Need to find Another New Employee… again? Is Re-hiring Becoming Routine? Here’s How To Make Your Employees Stick Long-term

If you’ve hired an employee (or many) in your time as a trade business owner, you’d be well aware that finding the right person isn’t always that simple. A lot of time and money is involved in the process. So ideally, once you’ve found the right person, you want them to stay with your business long-term.

The downside of hiring in the trade service industry is that, for prospective employees, doing their trade is the same no matter whom they work for. What I mean is that plumbing is plumbing, and building is building, so as a trade business owner, it’s important that you do something differently to encourage employees to stick with your business over another.

To help with this in our business, we developed and implemented what has now been dubbed as ‘The Tradie Team Transformer’. It’s a process that promotes long-term employee loyalty using four key areas. We discussed this recently at ‘The Future Tradie’ live event and received fantastic feedback. One of the four areas of ‘The Tradie Team Transformer’ is the ‘onboarding process’ of new employees.

A structured and specific onboarding process is a must in promoting employee longevity. The onboarding process for a new tradesman, for example, isn’t just about handing over contracts, tools and a uniform, then sending them out into the field.

What you communicate verbally and visually, and how you make a person feel coming into their new role will shape their thoughts and behaviours going forward, and will have a huge impact on whether or not they will stick with your business long-term.

In order to get these communications right you need a structured and specific onboarding process.

The benefits of a structured and specific onboarding process are that employees are much happier at work, far more committed to their job/the business, produce a higher quality of work and as a result are far more satisfied with their job. The major consequences of these benefits for your business are two-fold – you’ll save time and money (because you aren’t continuously replacing employees) and you’ll develop an excellent business reputation because employee satisfaction is often reflected in the quality of work they produce.

A structured and specific onboarding process is a combination of giving your new employee the necessities to do the job, empowering them with both training and understanding about the business, and encouraging engagement.

Provide The Necessities

Naturally, the onboarding process of a new employee usually starts with a call to inform them that they got the job. In this call let them know what the next steps are in their employment, the paperwork they need, when their first day is, what time to show up, where to go and what to wear, etc.

All paperwork, forms and compliance letters need to be given to them either in person or via post.

On the first day, collect their paperwork and give them any uniform, tools or technology (iPad, phone, car) requirements. In addition to this, provide them access to a copy of your flowcharts so that they can read and understand the correct way to carry out tasks.

Performing these steps makes your new team members employment official, creates clarity and sets up their expectations. This aids their confidence going into their first day.

Empower With Training

Adequate training is paramount for new employees.

For the first couple of weeks, it’s a great idea to have a new tradesman in the truck working alongside the leading hand or business owner.

In this time they should learn how to refer to flowcharts and gain practical hands-on experience of the tasks involved in their role. Employees should be taught not only ‘how’ to do things correctly, but ‘why’ this is the correct way of doing it.

Over the course of these two weeks, introduce any additional responsibilities slowly to avoid overwhelming the new employee (you don’t want to scare them off!).

Empowering your employee through training gives them a deeper understanding of their job requirements and reduces the potential for errors. This increases their job clarity and thus their confidence. With confidence comes higher job satisfaction and motivation.

You and/or your leading hand should try your best to develop a rapport with the new employee in the first couple of weeks spent together. Ideally, this relationship should pave the way for open conversations, honesty and give them someone to turn to when they have any questions or concerns.

This “no-blurred lines” style of work environment is not only refreshing for employees but it makes them feel that they are valued as a human being and not just an employee. Who wouldn’t want to work in a supportive environment like that?

Empower With Understanding

Hand-in-hand with practical training comes employee understanding about their role and the business they’re working for.

During the onboarding process explain to your new employee their role and the importance it has in the business

Give them some information about the business itself – its history, why you started it, the culture, your goals and anything else you feel will help them become connected and inspired.

Be clear with your employee about your expectations of them.

This is a crucial step in connecting new employees to the core values and ethics of the business. An understanding of your background and why you started the business edifies you as a business owner, which will in turn increase their respect for you.

How does this promote long-term employment you ask?

A belief in the business and respect for you as a business owner is like a magnet for employees. Not only will they do a better job, but they’ll also WANT to work for you.


One of the biggest challenges for a business owner is maintaining their employee engagement. Employees are generally most engaged at day one, so the aim is to maintain this engagement for as long as possible. This is particularly important throughout the onboarding process because your employee is acquiring the experience and understanding that will assist them in moving forward confidently.

A great way to initiate this engagement is to coincide a new employee’s first day with your team meetings. By doing so, you are immediately giving them the opportunity build relationships with the whole team. These relationships will engage employees through camaraderie.

Not only this, but as a business owner you should check-in with new employees regularly. When you talk them, give them genuine credit when they’re performing well and listen attentively to any concerns they have. This will make them feel important and heard. Having the permission to voice their concerns is important in keeping them engaged because it shows mutual respect. When employees feel respected, they are more motivated to work at their best.

Take the time to understand your employee’s work-related goals and think about ways you can realise these within the business. This will not only make them feel valued, but it will increase engagement and commitment to their role because you’re helping them achieve something that is important to them in the grander scheme of things.

Engagement is important in the onboarding process because it encourages involvement in the learning process of their role and the business. This in turn, helps with employee performance, confidence, connectedness and perception of their job.

As mentioned earlier, a new employee onboarding process is only one of four key areas involved in promoting long-term employee loyalty. In this one area alone, there are thousands of dynamics that encourage an employee to stick with your company over another. If you would like to learn more, come along to ‘The Future Tradie’ live event.

At the end of the day, the message is simple. Employing someone new and handing over a contract is not enough. If you have found the perfect fit for a role, you have to have processes in place to keep them. Design a repeatable process to onboard your new employees that makes your business one that’s hard to leave!

What’s next?

  1. Join our Kick-Ass Tradies Facebook Group, for access to trade business specific conversations, tips and resources, plus a like-minded community of tradies.
  2. Book a 15-minute Game Plan Call with Andy, owner of Dr. DRiP plumbing and co-founder of Lifestyle Tradie, to clarify your priorities and get clear action steps.