Traditionally speaking, we cover a few topics per newsletter, but this month is different. We’re dedicating this one to HVAC talent.
The reason: HVAC industry professionals at every level is something we should all be thinking about.
At the AHR Expo, there were whispers of the fast-growing HVAC and IAQ industries, baby boomers retiring, dwindling interest in HVAC careers, and how all of these elements are coming together to create the perfect storm.
Basically, competition for talent is about to heat up, so what are you going to do to get ahead of this?
This month, we’re covering the:
- Current and future challenges of HVAC talent
- Action items (and programs) you can put in place to get ahead of it
- Benefits of retaining your talent and thoughts on how you can reduce turnover
1.) Fast Growth, Lack of Interest
Do you know what the number one regret amongst most HVAC businesses out there was prior to and immediately after the pandemic started? It was not recruiting enough.
Nothing has changed, and actually, the pandemic has only made our industry recruitment problem bigger – faster, and more problematic… Let me explain.
Currently, the HVAC and IAQ industries are forecasting significant growth over the next 4 years:
- IAQ alone is projected to jump from $4 billion today to ~$6 billion in 2026
- HVAC is projected to jump from $250 billion to just over $300 billion in 2026
So why is this growth great but also worrisome? It’s because, in order to support the growth, our industry needs people. And by people, I mean 45,000 trained, licensed, and experienced HVAC industry professionals. And that, my friends, is where the biggest challenge lies.
Here’s what’s happening right now:
- The industry is growing at a rapid rate
- More people are working in the industry now more than ever
- Baby boomers are scheduled to retire between today and 2030 – at a rate of 10K per day
- Millennials aren’t exactly super-interested or excited about a career in the HVAC field
Here’s what’s going to happen in the not-so-distant future:
- Competition for talent is going to be FIERCE
- HVAC industry jobs will grow by 15% through 2026
- Innovation will only continue to drive the industry forward
What can a majority of HVAC companies do right now?
The big picture, broad-spectrum answer is, you need to step up your recruiting, hiring, development, and retention strategies – today. Every level of our industry will need to get creative, or you won’t have the people to help you meet and exceed those lofty goals you’ve set.
But let’s get a tad specific with one big idea… Shall we?
2.) Be the Local Launchpad into the Industry
Imagine a world where instead of just posting what you’re hiring for right now, to meet the needs of your business right now, you flip the script.
You put yourself in the shoes of someone who:
- Is looking for a job, but has never considered a career in HVAC
- Is still in high school and not set on attending a 4-year university
- Is interested in starting a business, but not sure what that business is yet
Take some time to think about:
- What are these people looking for?
- How can you bring them value?
- Why should they consider a career in HVAC/IAQ?
- How can you position your manufacturing, distribution, or contracting business to be the launchpad they didn’t know they were looking for
Once you’ve taken some time to think through these answers, start posting about them.
Actionable, Digestible Steps you can Take to Make this a Reality
Consider creating your own local program. If you’re any type of HVAC or IAQ business, you can create a training, mentorship, or apprentice program. Start out small and build it out as you go.
- Interview people in your training/mentorship/apprenticeship program
- Film the program
- Record interviews with the people in your program to get their story, specifically:
- how they found your program
- why they chose you
- what they want to do after your program
- Share their stories on social media, blog posts, and your website
- their stories will relate to others in a similar position
- Show them what’s possible with a career in HVAC
- Show them what’s possible through your program
Make it your job to bring the most value to your local community. If their goal is to start their own HVAC company, become a manufacturer’s rep, territory manager, HVAC tech, etc, show them how you can help set them up for success.
The Perks of Creating your own Program
- You have complete control over who you allow in
- You find the right personalities for your program
- You can teach them what it takes to not only be a great HVAC industry professional, but a great employee
- You have a consistent pool of talent coming through your program
2.) A Blurb on Retention
It’s always cheaper, no matter the industry, to retain an employee. It’s the same benefit you get with a return customer. In every metric imaginable, it costs less to keep people than to hire and train new candidates.
Turnover is a real problem. Moreover, in the tech industry, it’s financially beneficial for the employee to move to a new company every 2 years.
The HVAC industry is not too far away from this happening. Already, top HVAC talent is being poached by competitors who are offering better pay, signing bonuses, and relocation assistance.
Here’s a post on Indeed right now 🔽
If that isn’t enough, you have work reform and subreddits like Antiwork demanding better pay, hours, and work-life balance.
The bottom line is: it’s a tough landscape for HVAC businesses to navigate. The HVAC companies that adopt some of these strategies are the ones who will win.
So… What Can You Do to Retain Your Talent?
If you Google retention strategies, there are over 3.7 billion results to choose from. Pic for proof 🔽 We won’t bore you with a top 8. 🙂
We will, however, leave you with this:
You need people to succeed. They are the most important element of your business, so choose wisely. One bad apple (in the form of an employee, or worse, manager) can send your best employees to your competitors, so learn how to quickly identify them and get them out.
If you want your employees to stay, you need to give them a reason to. It could be recognition, purpose, professional development, more money, a promotion, or something else. Everybody’s different, so find out what their motivations are by talking to them, and then help them to achieve their goals.
Doing these very simple, but often overlooked, things will be the difference between retaining talent and having a nightmarish turnover rate.