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Employees want stability and a clear career path.

Contracting Business Magazine

Atlanta-based Bardi Heating & Air Conditioning has just been named among Atlanta’s “Top 100 Workplaces” by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in an independent survey based on employee response. Some 166 companies competed for the honor in their size category.

Nominations flooded in from Bardi employees, explaining why they have a fierce loyalty to the firm. Firm president Alex Bardi offers his top five tips to help ensure employee satisfaction and the long-term success of your contracting team.

1 – Give your employees a voice – Employees won’t share their information with you if they don’t see action. Bardi hosts an open forum quarterly, or monthly if needed, where all employees can address concerns. These “town hall meetings” help us uncover workplace issues in a timely manner. For example, in a recent meeting we learned that our technicians felt that we weren’t competitive when it came to benefits and paid leave. After evaluating their feedback, we discovered our benefit package was better than most competitors, but we had not properly communicated the advantages in a way employees understood. So we’re in the process of putting a dollar figure to each benefit, meeting individually with each employee, and explaining their total compensation package. We also discovered we fell short as compared to competitors regarding paid leave. Now, we’re establishing a program of paid time off during off-peak season – to ensure technicians get more family time when the phones aren’t as busy. While we can’t address everything immediately, we try to evaluate concerns, and, if feasible, roll out new programs within thirty days. Getting that immediate feedback will help employees stay engaged and open when the next town hall meeting rolls around.

2- Envision a career path – Don’t just hire people to fill a position. Hire to fulfill their passions. Our HR Director is in the process of meeting with every employee to understand what each wants to do in his or her life, and then makes sure the career path matches it. One commercial service tech applied for an opening in residential service because he thought he could provide greater value there. But after our Human Resources Manager met with him, we discovered his passion was really to be a Controls Technician. Listening to his concerns, she organized a meeting with his manager to discuss a controls opportunity for him next year. He’s remaining a commercial tech for now, with the knowledge he’ll have access to his desired career path later. “We believe the best thing we can do for any employee is give them total ownership of their job,” says Tracy Stone, Bardi’s HR Manager. “That starts at the coaching level. No more performance reviews, but ownership of their planned success for their future.”

3- Job Stability – A recent article from the professional organization Society for Human Resource listed top factors that employees consider in comparing jobs with similar salaries. “Benefits” was number one, while no surprise in this economy that “Employer Stability” ranked a close second. Of particular importance in the HVAC industry where technicians experience job hiring during peak seasons, only to be laid off when calls slow down after summer. We don’t operate that way. Instead, we plan ahead for low seasons as well as peak, to guarantee employees have job security. We utilize workload planning to make sure our employees are truly full-time, year-round. We also hire and train technicians to serve both residential and commercial needs. This allows them to move across departments as seasons change and the need arises.

4 – Ironclad Customer Satisfaction Policy– From the beginning, we differentiated ourselves with a 100% money-back guarantee if customers are not satisfied or equipment doesn’t perform as they expected. How does this translate into employee satisfaction? Armed with the knowledge that our clients are protected no matter what, our employees can generate business proactively instead of worrying about corporate backsliding or fine print. This allows our sales people to sell with confidence; and our contractors to trust we’ll do the right thing and live up to our guarantee.

5 – Honesty as a Core Value – Establishing and actively practicing core values takes the pressure off employees. It’s simply a given that our management will “always, always do the right thing,” our top core value. And in doing so, employees have no incentive to be dishonest. They’re never put in a precarious situation to “get all they can.” It’s not just a plaque on the wall, but we put our core values in action every day. We take care of our customers. We don’t sell them something they don’t need, and when we quote a price, it’s the real price. We make it easy for our employees to live up to this standard by supporting this commitment to our core values.

Bardi Heating & Air, Norcross, Georgia, is a family-owned heating and air conditioning company serving residential and commercial customers throughout Metro Atlanta since 1989. Bardi has been honored three consecutive years by the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce as a “Top 25 Small Business” and was awarded first place for “Customer Service” and “Community Service” recently from the Atlanta BBB. Bardi has earned both Silver and Gold Safety STEP Awards from ABC. For more information, visit www.bardi.com or call 1-800-BARDI-ON.