107017697 | Welcomia | Dreamstime.com
667028d1aebdbe708384499e Dreamstime L 107017697

Clark: Maintenance managers can impact diesel tech retention

June 17, 2024
Providing a pathway for advancement is the only way fleets can ensure they have the technicians they need.

When you find qualified employees, specifically qualified diesel technicians, you want those techs to stay with you as long as possible. At a recent NationaLease meeting, Andrew Adeniyi, CEO and founder of AAA Solutions, informed attendees that “research has found that replacing an employee can cost anywhere from 30% to 200% of the departing person’s salary.” He also related that, according to Gallup, voluntary turnover in the U.S. results in business losses of up to $1 trillion annually.

There are numerous reasons why employees decide it’s time to move on: better pay, more benefits, and flexible schedules, to name just a few. In addition, younger workers have made clear that company culture has a great deal to do with their reason to stay or leave. Adeniyi cites Deloitte research that shows “94% of executives and 88% of employees believe a distinct workplace culture is important to business success,” yet “only 12% of executives believe their companies are driving the right culture.”

If employees don’t feel engaged, it can be costly, since lost productivity can equal as much as 18% of that employee’s annual salary. Culture alone can only do so much to keep employees engaged and loyal. Everyone an employee encounters needs to embody that culture, and no one is more important in doing that than the manager who works closest with the technician, specifically the maintenance manager.

See also: Strategies to implement during driver recruitment that make turnover less of a 'big deal.'

Leadership is a critical component in employee retention

If you’re unsure about the value of a manager, here’s an important statistic. According to Adeniyi, “52% of exiting employees say their manager or organization could have done something to prevent them from leaving.” He cited Gallup, which is, in fact, four times as important to employees as the policy of remote, on-site, or hybrid work. Of course, technicians have to be on-site to do their jobs, but this statistic does emphasize the effect a manager can have on an employee.

Here are some practices maintenance managers should undertake:

  • Make everyone feel as if they are an integral part of the team (because they are).
  • Have regularly scheduled one-to-one meetings with an employee. These meetings should align on length of time and focus on goals and action items.
  • Offer training and development, especially considering all of the new truck technology.
  • Recognize and acknowledge a job well done.
  • Provide feedback when necessary, but always present it as a way to help, not criticize.
  • Delegate when appropriate, as this shows that you trust the technician’s ability to do the task assigned. 

Ultimately, train your techs to take your job—at some point. LinkedIn recently posted, “A significant portion of the current diesel technician workforce is nearing retirement age, and there are not enough young professionals entering the field to replace them.” This issue has been plaguing the industry for quite a while. The only way to ensure fleets have the techs they need is to show a pathway for advancement. Today’s maintenance managers should create the path for tomorrow’s maintenance managers.

About the Author

Jane Clark | Senior VP of Operations

Jane Clark is Senior Vice President, Operations for NationaLease. Prior to joining NationaLease, Jane served as Area Vice President for Randstad, one of the nation’s largest recruitment agencies, and before that, she served in management posts with QPS Companies, Pro Staff, and Manpower, Inc.

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of FleetOwner, create an account today!

Sponsored Recommendations

Going Mobile: Guide To Starting A Heavy-Duty Repair Shop

Discover if starting a heavy-duty mobile repair business is right for you. Learn the ins and outs of licensing, building, and marketing your mobile repair shop.

Expert Answers to every fleet electrification question

Just ask ABM—the authority on reliable EV integration

Route Optimization Mastery: Unleash Your Fleet's Potential

Master the road ahead and discover key considerations to elevate your delivery performance

Leveraging telematics to get the most from insurance

Fleet owners are quickly adopting telematics as part of their risk mitigation strategy. Here’s why.