If you’ve been keeping up with the news over the past year or so, you’ve probably heard a lot about employers struggling to fill open positions. While the magnitude and causes of this purported labor shortage can be debated, it’s undeniable that qualified applicants for certain occupations are becoming increasingly hard to come by.
As it relates to the fleet industry, technicians are a prime example of this phenomenon. Despite the fact that the industry will increasingly require technicians to maintain fleet vehicles as it grows over the coming years, trend data shows that finding enough people with the necessary skills will be an uphill battle. Compared to past decades, far fewer people are interested in becoming a fleet technician. On top of that, a worryingly high percentage of technicians leave the line of work after just a few years due to various frustrations.
Because of this, fleets should take proactive steps to retain the technicians they employ. By implementing a few incentives, compensation adjustments and workflow changes, fleets and their technicians both end up benefiting.
Steps you can take to retain fleet technicians
Let’s take a look at three tactics fleets can use to retain their technicians more effectively.
Invest in career development
Whether it’s developing new skills or attaining new titles, people in all lines of work aspire to continually advance in their career. Technicians are no exception to this.
Fleets can show they value this drive by asking technicians about their goals and developing personalized plans to help them realize those ambitions. For many, achieving their desired results will require additional education or training. By covering education-related expenses, providing internal training or setting up mentorships, fleets can nurture technicians as their skill sets expand.
As a basic example of this, many fleets offer wage bumps to technicians upon receiving relevant certifications. These fleets also often pay for registration and testing fees associated with attaining those certifications.
By actively supporting the career development of their technicians, fleets benefit twofold. First, more skilled technicians are often more productive technicians. And second, technicians who receive such support are far more likely to stick around for the long haul.
Cover tool-related costs
For entry-level technicians, purchasing the tools they’ll need on the job can be a significant financial hurdle. Fleets can alleviate this concern by lending new hires a startup toolbox on their first day. After a set milestone has been reached (e.g. three years at the job, attaining an agreed-upon number of certifications, etc.), fleets can give full ownership of these toolboxes to their technicians as a sign of appreciation.
Additionally, at some fleets, technicians are expected to replace their worn out tools and other equipment at their own expense. In addition to being a non-insignificant financial burden on technicians (especially when inflation is high), this can also become a safety concern over time. To avoid this, fleets should consider providing their technicians with a tool allowance specifically designated for replacement purchases. While this approach might require some supervision from managers to confirm that tools are being replaced as necessary, sparing technicians from having to worry about the cost of replacement tools should ultimately prove well worth the investment.
Eliminate pain points through digitization
Most technicians enter the profession because they simply enjoy working on vehicles. To them, wrenching is the best part of the job. And for many, anything that gets in the way of them working on vehicles for long is an annoyance.
By digitizing their operations with fleet maintenance software, fleets can eliminate the cumbersome paperwork that technicians often have to endure. With software, printing out work orders and pencil whipping become things of the past. Digital work order tracking dramatically streamlines how technicians receive, document and review their work. As a result, technicians spend less of their day fussing with paper forms and more time wrenching.
Additionally, fleet management systems (FMSs) make it easier for managers to measure any individual mechanic’s performance. This can help managers identify technicians who might benefit from mentorship or additional training. By eliminating obstacles that get in-between technicians and their favorite part of the job, fleets can significantly improve technician satisfaction and retention.