Do you have a plan to deal with technician brain drain?

Advice on how vehicle maintenance shops can address the challenges from an increasing age profile of technicians.


DeLong recommends focusing on the threat of lost knowledge instead of staffing shortages. However, even when managers recognize the problem, most don’t know what to do about it, he points out.

KNOWLEDGE-SAVING INITIATIVES

One organization that has been taking actions to address potential negative effects of the aging workforce is Florida Power & Light Company (FPL), the largest electric utility in Florida. Several years ago it began some initiatives in four key areas:

  • Workforce planning. FPL established a formal workplace planning function to improve the capability to analyze and forecast resource needs.
  • Talent management. It implemented formalized succession planning across the organization, developed a formal talent assessment process and enhanced its performance management process.
  • Knowledge transfer. Efforts were made to formalize knowledge transfer to supplement and enhance existing informal methods.
  • College partnerships. FPL partners with high schools, trade schools and colleges.

EMPLOYEE DEVELOPMENT AND RETENTION

FPL employs various programs to aid in the development and retention of its highly-skilled employees and to ensure that it has the requisite talent to meet operational goals.

One program is an employee information system that captures key information on career interests, educational background and internal and external experience, among other criteria.

The program includes an annual manager assessment where each employee’s potential is evaluated, competencies are assessed and an overall talent rating is assigned. Employees may be identified as “high potential” for development and succession planning purposes, and as “critical” or “high risk” from a retention standpoint.

The program provides a key mechanism for identifying talent and resource inventory gaps and retention risks, whether from an aging workforce or other reasons, and for developing plans to ensure that training and knowledge transfer plans or retention vehicles are put in place.

Florida Power & Light’s training programs, which include a corporate university, assist with effectively coaching and developing employees and with providing sufficient development opportunities. The leadership curriculum within the university includes formal training in the selection process, performance coaching, driving performance management, managing individual- and team-performance, and overall leadership development.

REWARDS PROGRAMS

A comprehensive total rewards package, including competitive salary and benefits, incentive compensation and development opportunities has enabled FPL to attract, retain and engage employees and has facilitated efforts to mitigate the risks of an aging workforce.

The utility also uses formal retention programs to assist with retaining highly-skilled employees deemed “critical” or “high risk.” These awards are structured to require continued employment for a designated period of time.

Additionally, FPL has an annual process for identifying and retaining key talent. It also performs a comprehensive benchmarking analysis of its pay rates to determine “position to market” for all employees and to maintain a competitive wage and benefits package.

KNOWLEDGE RETENTION

Various means, both formal and informal, are used by FPL to ensure the capture of knowledge from retiring personnel for retrieval when needed. These methods include:

  • Mentoring and coaching.
  • Documentation.
  • Knowledge transfer checklists.
  • Cross-training.
  • Interviewing/surveying.
  • Job rotations.
  • Job shadowing.

FORMAL SUCCESSION PLANNING

There is a formal succession planning program in place at FPL to fill key leadership positions and other positions identified as “critical.” The objectives of the program are to:

  • Identify employees with the potential to assume greater responsibilities of key positions.
  • Make sure there is the creation of development experiences required for success.
  • Engage leaders in supporting the development of potential successors.

An explicit succession planning template is used to identify position requirements, potential candidates and development needs and plans. Formal meetings are held at least annually to complete and/or update the templates and to formulate associated development plans.

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