Pay Probably Isn’t the Reason You Are Losing Techs

Dec 29, 2022

If you have recently had a tech or two leave your shop what reason did they give you? Was it pay? Even if the pay was a nice bump over what you were paying them, do you think that is the real reason they left?

As you’ve probably observed many times, when humans make a big decision there are often two stories – the truth, and then the story they tell you to make you feel better about it or to avoid a discussion about the truth. And most often, we are willing to believe the story because it makes us feel better and helps us avoid having to make hard changes.

In this case, if we believe the tech left because of the 20% pay increase it helps us avoid having to deal with the work environment or cultural issues we don’t want to face. We don’t have to address the sniping amongst employees or the way we don’t thank them for their work or that we don’t try to connect with them as a human or offer any flexibility in their work schedule.

We couldn’t pay them 20% more so they left. They just wanted more money. Right? Or is that the story we are telling ourselves to avoid having to face the truth?

bag full of money

Was It Really the Money?

The highly respected workplace research firm Gallup recently conducted an analysis that found that engaged employees need a 31% pay increase to even consider taking a job somewhere else. 31%!

The same analysis showed that employees who are not engaged, and even actively disengaged, want a 22% pay increase to change jobs.

Now the story is starting to become clearer. Our tech left for 20% more and if you compare that to the Gallup research that says actively disengaged employees want 22% more, it’s time to take a hard look at what life at the shop looks like and feels like for our employees.

Auto Repair Technicians Want the Same Things as All Employees

Sure, if you ask anybody if they’d like more money, nearly 100% of people will say yes. But in most cases if an employee is directly asking you for more money it’s to compensate for “poor management and a poor employee experience” as it says in the Gallup article.

What they are really saying is that you are going to have to pay them more money if you expect them to work long hours or put up with the people they work with or put up with the conditions of the shop. Or put in a not so gentle way, “these things suck about working here, if you want me to stay you are going to have to pay me more to put up with them.”

Unfortunately, once somebody has gotten to that point it’s a no-win situation. The exception is if you can find a way to fix the real problem. Gallup says the best predictors of employee retention are:

  • Overall job satisfaction
  • Organizational commitment
  • Work environment
  • Level of stress
  • Workgroup cohesion

If you don’t fix those things, your employee is likely to keep asking for more money until they realize that it doesn’t truly compensate for the stress and damage the job causes and then they will leave.

It’s also important to know that increasing base pay for an employee has been shown to have an insignificant effect on performance. If you want to increase performance focus on fixing the five elements in the list above.

Now Is a Good Time to Change

The end of the year is a time for many people to look back and then look forward. If your look back includes the loss of a number of good employees I encourage you to take a hard look at the work environment and culture of your shop.

  • Do you show employees your appreciation in small and big ways?
  • Do they know the shop is committed to their wellbeing and that you care about them and their families?
  • Do you or does their manager work to personally connect with each employee?
  • Does everybody treat each other well in the shop?
  • Is there a team atmosphere that helps lift somebody up when they need it?

Those are just some of the things that you should be considering. For more information check out:

Webinar – Recruiting and Keeping Talented Technicians (This is a recording of a live webinar from four years ago but it’s still just as relevant today)

Podcast – What Do Technicians Think Is The Most Important Aspect Of A Job With Jay Goninen from WrenchWay

Blog – Technicians Answer: What’s the Most Important Aspect of a Job?

Blog – Setting New Employees Up for Success

Change is never easy. But it’s only going to get harder to recruit technicians. Gain an advantage by making sure you’ve got a work environment and culture that helps you keep the good people you have. They can often be your best source for new employees.