Why Your People Are Leaving and How To Prevent It

High turnover can be a major factor holding your company back from growing. The higher your turnover rate the more time and money you need to spend on recruiting which takes you away from your core business. Also new staff can take time to get up to speed. The longer your team works together the more they jell and can produce efficient results.

In the 2019 Mercer Report Turnover at USA companies was at 22% (combined voluntary and involuntary separations plus retirements) and within Canada the turnover rate was 21%. About 1% is due to retirements meaning that the rest could potentially be reduced. 12 – 15% is from people quitting with 5-7% is employees that are terminated.

Reducing your number of terminations is about improving your recruitment and screening process as well as investing in training and mentoring your existing staff. This is achievable but in reality there is always going to be a certain percentage that do not work out and reducing your number of terminations is often just saving your bottom performers. Where you really want to spend your time is preventing that 12-15% from quitting.

To reduce your turnover you need to act like a mechanic, Diagnose and then repair. Too many companies rush to provide solutions without stopping to figure out what the actual problem is. What you think the problem is and what is actually going on may be different. It is important to stop and listen to your staff to figure out exactly what the issue is. This can and should be done on exit interviews but usually that is too late and is the equivalent of shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted. Have ongoing discussions with your staff, foster an environment where everyone is encouraged to voice their opinion. You do not need to give in to every demand but at least hear them out and do what you can to accommodate.

Below are some of the biggest reasons that employees leave and are all fixable. For the purpose of this article we will be focusing on Turnover with skilled trades positions, specifically HVAC Technicians, Mechanics, Fire Protection Technicians, Millwrights and Plumbers. I am sure that a lot of these are going to be similar with other professions as well but we do not pretend to be experts outside of our niches.

Below are the top 4 reasons why your staff might be leaving.

1) Money

Money is the most obvious reason why a technician would leave a job. In most trades technicians know other technicians in their field, this could be people they went to school with or previously worked with. When meeting up they will often talk about work and hourly rate almost always comes up. If someone finds out they are getting paid less than their colleague while doing the same job they are likely to start looking for a new opportunity.

Surprisingly though money is not the most common reason why someone quits a job. Only between 30 – 40% of people that leave a job say that the reason was due to base salary/wages. Pay rate is usually a key factor in recruiting but not so much in retention. A high pay rate brings your staff in but working conditions will keep them.

2) Working Conditions

Working conditions can be one of the most obvious and easy fixes and often has the added bonus of increasing efficiency if taken care of. When we speak to candidates one of the first questions we ask is why they are looking for a new opportunity and working conditions is almost always one of the key reasons.

We had a Diesel Truck Mechanic recently looking to leave because the shop did not have enough air lines. This could have been a simple enough fix for the shop and would have resulted in greater productivity but instead they chose not to fix it and were losing staff.

For Field Technicians including HVAC Techs/Installers, Field Mechanics, Fire Protection staff the service truck is important. Make sure it is well stocked and in good working order. If your Service Truck is breaking down all the time they are likely going to leave. Also, take some pride in your trucks, these are driving all around your city and are a mobile advertisement make sure they look good. This may sound foolish but we have had techs leave a job because they were embarrassed to park their junky looking service truck at home. Techs want to be proud of where they work, not embarrassed.

3) Management and Support Staff

The people that your technicians and installers report to and work with are incredibly important. We have had so many HVAC Technicians that have left a job because they couldn’t stand their dispatcher. Or Mechanics that had issue with their Service Advisors or Parts staff. These relationships are important, if the interactions between the two are causing headaches then your staff will leave. Do what you can to make sure the process is smooth and the relationship is respectful.

Equally important is the relationship that techs have with their Supervisors and Managers. It is a common expression that People Don’t Leave Bad Jobs, They Leave Bad Bosses. If you have a higher than average turnover rate, look at who you have in leadership positions. Sometimes it is more effective to replace a manager than it is to lose your staff.

A lot of managers in the skilled trades world are former technicians that have been promoted into management. Often it is the best tech promoted, not the one with the best leadership skills, this can often lead to someone being promoted into a role they are not qualified for, often referred to as the Peter Principle. Be careful who you promote and be sure to train them, the worst thing you can do is promote them and just leave them to figure out this new job on their own.

4) Room For Advancement

The #1 Reason people cite for quitting is for a better opportunity. If you can’t offer any sort of advancement then your people will look for it elsewhere. Advancement does not always have to mean a promotion or a management role. The term ‘better opportunity’ is vague and means something different to everyone. Talk to your people, find out what they want. Some just want to receive factory training (this could be a win/win situation) some want more diversity in their work, others want to take on training etc. You will be surprised at the ambitions of some of your staff. A lot of time your staff knows where their strengths are and what they want to do could actually be very helpful for your business. Listen to them and accommodate if possible.


Retention is important but no matter how good your shop is and how awesome your managers are you will always have turnover. Some of it is out of your control such as retirements or relocations. In these situations if you need a hand hiring mechanics, HVAC Technicians/Installers, Millwrights, Plumbers or Fire Protection Technicians/Installers give us a call at 1-833-937-3546, e-mail at [email protected] or visit our website at https://rockstarrecruiting.ca

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