Report: Why technicians are leaving the industry
From Aftermarket Matters
MOUNT HOREB, Wisconsin — On a recent episode of Beyond the Wrench by WrenchWay, three former technicians discussed what struggles they experienced working as techs, why they think techs are leaving the industry, and actions shops can take to boost technician retention.
“If you think everything is all roses and rainbows, go look at a Facebook message board sometime, and it’s a pretty consistent message over and over and over again,” said Jay Goninen, co-founder and president, WrenchWay.
The group of former technicians started the discussion with the top issues they see in the industry that are causing technicians to leave and explore other career options.
Some of these issues include:
- Work environment
They agreed that a top reason for leaving the industry was due to compensation. A lot of technicians are leaving within the first 5-7 years because they see other opportunities with better pay, insurance, and retirement plans.
Work environment in the shop was also a common answer among the group. They discussed that it is important to have a work environment where you can have open and honest conversations with management about the issues that are going on.
Not being able to see advancement or future opportunities was brought up as a big issue as well. They felt that being stuck in a position with no future advancements makes their passion for the job slowly fade away, eventually leading techs to not enjoy going into work and dread going to the shop everyday.
Feelings About Working as a Technician
When discussing their feelings toward working in the industry as a technician, most of the issues come down to how techs are treated in the shops. It’s not just one thing that is causing technicians to leave, and shops need to realize that. Yes, compensation is one of the big issues, but just raising the compensation in the industry isn’t going to fix all of its underlying problems.
Technicians want to feel accepted and respected in regards to the work they are doing. They also want to work with managers who will take the time to listen to them, address their grievances, and communicate openly.
Moving outside of the shop, the former techs also expressed that society tends to demonize the technician profession, and it is up to shops and schools to start making the industry inviting and appealing for people to join. It is important that people see the skill set it takes to be a technician, and not look at it as a negative career choice.
“The industry has given me a skill set that is really unrivaled in a lot of aspects, like I don’t have any trepidation now at all about really approaching any type of project,” said Lunden Herndon, automotive technician, Rob’s Automotive & Exhaust.
How Shops Can Keep Technicians in the Industry
“Half of the problem with the industry is people are beating around the bush and just not having really open and honest conversations about what the real problems are,” said Bob Higgins, service adviser, Northwest Imports.
Shops need to work with schools.
It’s easy for technicians to talk about all the issues, but the difficult part is for shops to take the necessary steps to make these improvements.
Unfortunately, many guidance counselors today treat a career in the skilled trades as a choice for a student who isn’t excelling in academics. Shops need to work with schools to break down the stereotypes and help show students at an early age why being a technician is a desirable career choice.
Showing employee appreciation goes a long way
Shops also need to take time to do small acts of appreciation. Taking employees out to lunch every now and then is an easy way to for shops to show appreciation for them.
If a shop notices that a technician is having a bad week or has been working especially hard, give them a random day off or the opportunity to leave early on a Friday. It’s the small gestures like these that show technicians a shop or manager really cares and values the work they’re doing.