In the Know: Propane industry faces employee-hiring issues

December 27, 2018 By and    
Employee hiring and workforce develop are one of the key issues faces the propane industry. Photo: Joe McCarthy

Employee hiring and workforce develop are one of the key issues faces the propane industry. Photo: Joe McCarthy

Q:Would you rank employee hiring issues as the propane industry’s greatest challenge? If so, why?



Issues with hiring are definitely at the top of the list when looking at the greatest challenges for the propane industry. Here are some of the hurdles we face in hiring (and retaining) quality employees:

    • Competing with larger non-propane companies’ salaries and benefits.
    • Competing with oil industry jobs that, on average, pay more.
    • It’s challenging to find employees who can pass a drug test, and the legalization of marijuana has made this even more challenging.
    • Finding skilled employees or applicants willing to go through training is nearly impossible. Young people are either attending college or not learning a service trade.

Let’s look at what can be done to turn the tide.

    • Assess your turnover rate. If it’s high, why? Is it the quality of candidates or does your company have a not-so-positive work environment?
    • Target seasonal and part-time employees to fill a void. Be sure to target those part-time and seasonal employees who you can hire back year after year.
    • Offer on-the-job training opportunities for employees.
    • Work with your local technical school’s placement counselor for recruitment. Even better, provide training/presentation opportunities to the school’s staff about different opportunities in the propane industry.
    • Be a leader. Be the company where people want to work.

When talking to prospective employees, relay the benefits of working in the propane industry and for your company in particular. What does an independent retail propane company have to offer its employees compared to larger companies?

    • You, the owner of the business, personally know your employees and their families. You interact with them daily.
    • Your employees are part of the team – not a number.
    • Your employees have your ear. Let them know through open communication they have the ability to influence change.
    • Your employees get to be part of the entire customer cycle: prospecting for new customers, getting the new customer, setting the tank, service and leak testing, delivering, invoicing, communicating and problem solving.
    • Flexible time off in the summer can really differentiate the propane retailer from many other industries.
    • Strive to hire the best staff possible, then follow the advice of Richard Branson, English business magnate and founder of the Virgin Group: “Train people well enough so they can leave; treat them well enough so they don’t want to.”

Tammy Day is director of marketing and communications. Tamera Kovacs is a consultant, trainer and speaker. They can be reached at 888-739-6732.

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