Many companies state their employees are their greatest assets. These companies implement benefits and reward systems to attract and retain the best people. Many demographic changes are affecting the available labor pool. As a result, the workforce is aging, younger workers demand more from a job than just a paycheck, and younger workers have more employment options. Good employees are difficult to find, so companies need to do more to create a desirable work environment for the employees. Because of changes in the U.S. workforce, it’s critical for companies to ask and answer the following question:
Does my spray equipment strategy support my human resource strategy? Here are some considerations to help evaluate spray equipment to see if it’s up to the challenge of protecting and retaining your employees, specifically spray technicians.
Is the equipment as safe as it can be?
The first and most obvious consideration is safety. Have all the equipment hazards been minimized? Have you closely looked at your equipment to identify bump, scrape, abrasion, cut and burn hazards? Are all moving parts protected? Is the load secure, balanced and appropriate for the truck’s capacity? Are chemicals building up in the truck, creating an exposure or slip hazard? Has the equipment been designed to eliminate unnecessary reaching and awkward actions that can cause back strain? This last question is particularly crucial with an aging workforce. Remember, employees may have other employment options with fewer potential hazards.
Three ways to find the answer to these questions are:
1. ask the employees;
2. spend a day riding with employees and observe the actual use of the equipment in the field; and
3. management should occasionally use the equipment to identify hazards and annoyances.
Is the equipment reliable?
Most spray technicians want to do a good job servicing customers. They can’t do that if equipment is unreliable and breaks down often. Employees with some component of variable compensation are particularly sensitive to equipment reliability problems. Unreliable equipment can be a leading cause of job dissatisfaction for spray technicians.
Has the spray equipment been designed for reliability? Are key components readily accessible for preventive maintenance? Can spray technicians access key components such as the line strainer (filter) to prevent problems from occurring? Are high-quality components used? When analyzing component quality, don’t just consider expensive parts such as engines and pumps. Even low-cost items such as fittings and clamps can be reliability killers.
Does the equipment help boost productivity?
Is the equipment designed for productivity so spray technicians can meet company and personal objectives? Are extra steps required for simple activities because of the way the equipment is laid out? Are commonly accessed components strategically placed for productivity?
Again, observe how employees use the equipment in the field. Ask employees for ideas about improving equipment productivity. Some equipment upgrades might be justified through productivity gains. Some companies use electric-rewind hose reels, not just as a productivity improvement, but as a way to retain employees. Rolling up 300 feet of water-laden chemical hose in the afternoon sun can be tiring and unpleasant. One additional residential service per month will more than pay for the incremental cost of the electric reel. Look for equipment productivity efficiencies to improve operating results and employee satisfaction.
Scrutinize your company’s spray equipment to determine if it’s helping or hindering attracting and retaining employees. Involve employees and vendors in this review. Employees will appreciate the interest in their safety and well-being and will likely be excited about contributing. Safety issues should be addressed immediately. Other improvements can be built into future equipment designs as equipment is replaced. Conduct this review regularly until you’ve designed the optimal pest management equipment for your company and employees.