What do your employees want (besides money…)?

Editor’s note: a guest post from Angela at Lifestyle Tradie!

I cannot stress this enough – your employees are your biggest assets! It seems they are hard to find, and when you’ve found a keeper, it’s devastating when they leave.

In industries with an abundance of employer options, such as plumbing, electrical contracting and pool cleaning, it’s easy for an employee to find a new, equally satisfying and well-paying job.

For this reason, you need to differentiate what your business offers so your employees want to COMMIT long-term!

But WHY should you go to all this effort to “differentiate” what your business offers your employees, you ask?

Well, you do this because…

1) Losing an employee is a WASTE – it’s a waste of precious training time, and it’s a waste of the money you can’t earn, from jobs you can’t do, because you’re “one-man-down” (and that’s just the start of the wastage).

2) Keeping an employee has endless value. In our plumbing business our newest plumber has been with us for 3 years, and two have been with us for over 10 years! The experience of these individuals has given us, as business owners, the flexibility to do whatever we want.

How did we manage to keep these employees for so long?

  • We found out what they liked about work and gave them more of it!
  • We found out what they didn’t like about work, talked about our options, and changed it where we could…
  • We found out what they wanted, that we didn’t offer, and added it.

It’s that simple!

Here’s the top two things they wanted:

#1 – Work-life Balance

This wouldn’t surprise you, but outside of a good salary package and incentive scheme employees want work-life balance. But when you own a business how can you give that balance without breaking the bank?


If you offer an emergency after-hours service, that requires an employee to answer the phones and go to emergency jobs, aid their work-life balance by outsourcing the phones. Sure, they still need to attend the emergency jobs BUT by outsourcing the phones they aren’t answering to 30 other people who realistically do not have emergency problems and can book in for the next day. By outsourcing the phones you are filtering out the unnecessary calls, trust me, it will make a huge difference.


Encourage your employees to take holidays, and no, this doesn’t mean their bi-monthly surfing trips… that said, it’s important to encourage them to take a break. They might accrue 4 weeks of leave a year, so its important for you BOTH that it’s taken.

For you as a business owner, it’s smart business practices to ensure the 4 weeks is used up within the year it’s accrued. Nothing worse than when an employee is owed 6 weeks and decides to take it in one foul swoop…

And for the employee, a break provides the much-needed ‘mental’ time-out they need to recharge the batteries.

You can definitely encourage and suggest the quiet times when to take this time off, and even have months, peak/busy months, where you state they’re not allowed to take time off.

#2 – Growth

Learning and Responsibility… yes, believe it or not, this was the 2nd most important request the team asked for – to achieve personal growth.


A lot of employees have a dream of running their own business one day, just like you did, so why not take the time to understand these ultimate goals and give them opportunities in your business to build their competencies.

When we tell this to our members some say, “why spend time training them, they’re just going to leave anyway”. But the truth is, wouldn’t you rather have a committed and motivated employee work in your business because of the lessons you teach? Or does an un-motivated and lazy employee sound okay to you? Of course not… The wise thing to do would be to teach them, get the most out of them while they are working for you and enhance their commitment through these opportunities.


Increase the responsibilities you give your employees the longer they are with your company. A stagnant work environment is just begging an employee to have a fresh start at one of your competing companies.

For example: Get long standing employees to train newbies, let them mentor the apprentice, get their help with the admin side of your business, or simply give them tasks they haven’t previous been exposed to.

To an employee, delegating responsibilities that are “important” is like giving them mini-recognition for their hard work and the good feelings associated with this recognition will build their commitment. Not to mention, it relieves you of certain duties so you can spend your time doing other tasks.

These are just some ideas for you… But the best advice I can offer is to ask your employees what they want! You may be surprised at what they say and just by considering an employee’s needs you will be earning their trust and loyalty.

We have developed a process called The Loyal Team Builder, which will be discussed in detail at our live event The Future Tradie. If you’d like to know more about this event, and your special ServiceM8 offer ($47 for 2 people!), CLICK HERE.

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Angela Smith

Husband and wife team, Andrew & Angela Smith, are the co-founders of the award winning business Lifestyle Tradie Group. A powerful and unique membership to inspire, energize, connect and educate tradesmen and their wives/partners, Lifestyle Tradie is dedicated to helping trade business owners fast-track business and lifestyle success!

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