5 Ways to Retain Your Solar Talent
9 out of 10 Americans say they support solar, yet this is one of the most challenging times to be managing a company in the solar industry. Why? Half of solar industry jobs were lost to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association, many of which can be attributed to the industry’s 19% job cancellation rate and 53% job postponement rate.
Despite these hardships, solar job growth is actually back on the rise. By 2025, existing coal plants will be more expensive to operate than solar and wind plants, leaving skilled energy workers in need of jobs they can find in solar. What’s more, many workers are more belief-driven than ever before, something that is likely to attract new talent to the solar industry. Yet all the interest in the world can fall flat if companies don’t have a solid talent retention strategy in place.
As the solar industry continues to grow, organizations should support and invest in the workers they do have while still being intentional about finding new talent. Here are five ways to get started.
Reward Employees For Their Hard Work
Belief-driven employees may find satisfaction just by working in an industry they’re passionate about. But that doesn’t mean organizations should stop rewarding employees in more tangible ways. Competitive compensation, retirement benefits and health insurance are all great ways to provide value to your employees, but so are opportunities for overtime for those who want to add a little more padding to their paychecks.
It doesn’t have to be all about money, either. Even with solid benefits in place, employees still like to know that their hard work doesn’t go unnoticed. Put together an employee recognition program, offer small gifts or rewards any time an employee meets or exceeds a growth goal, or even give employees the proverbial pat on the back any time you notice their successes.
These are all small ways you can keep your employees engaged with solar and excited about not just the job but also about your organization.
Prioritize Training and Continuing Education
Solar employees come from all different backgrounds. Some might be excited about the opportunity to work in renewables but are otherwise new to the power industry, while others might be transplants from coal-powered plants with tons of energy skills in tow. Regardless of where they’ve worked before, providing thorough training can show employees that you take both their safety and their professional development seriously.
Ensure your team is well educated before they hit the job site, but also be sure your training evolves along with the industry and their skill level. Start with the basics (like how to operate a forklift), but also go over the finer details like panel installation, which you can demo using a “wall” that simulates working with an electrical main and the associated wires.
Create a Brand Employees Can Buy Into
You might think a brand is just for your customers. But your internal brand matters, too! Your internal brand tells employees what your organization is all about. Think about Google: primary colors, a bikeable campus, and a casual, inclusive work environment are all hallmarks of the tech giant’s internal brand, something that attracts employees around the world.
You don’t have to be a silicon valley icon to do the same. Build a brand your employees can get excited about; the more invested they are in your organization, the more likely they are to stick around. Once you’ve established a brand, use it to fuel your employee initiatives so that everything ties into your ethos. Burt’s Bees, for example, offers an employee subsidy for purchasing hybrid cars, reminding employees that sustainability is a central value.
Promote Career Progression
The solar industry is a mobile industry by trade; employees often move states and even countries to get in on new, exciting projects. Since opportunities abound, it’s important for organizations to put in the work so that employees see that the grass at other projects or companies isn’t actually greener.
Though organizations should ensure that employee salaries keep pace with their expanding skill set, managers should also create opportunities for employees to share skills. Since one benefit of moving locations is exposure to different people with different abilities, providing mentorship opportunities or transfers within the company can be a great way to satisfy employee ambitions.
This might take time to develop in the short term, but in the long term it’ll save you time and might even make you money since you’ll be able to grow alongside your most valued employees.
Find Appropriate Lodging Near Job Sites
Employees in solar may be used to (and even love being!) on the road, but that doesn’t mean they’ve lowered their lodging expectations. Your employees deserve to be safe and comfortable no matter where they are, especially for longer contracts. But safety is just the start.
Finding lodging close to the job site to cut down on their commute is crucial, but so are the amenities. Extras like laundry, coffee makers in the room, and simple details like access to streaming services can turn a stressful project into a welcome experience. Make sure they have all the comforts they’d have at home, and perhaps even more if they’re spending a high percentage of their working hours on the road.
Though finding satisfactory lodging for an almost constantly-traveling workforce can feel daunting, tools like Hotel Engine make it easy to find and book hotels at affordable rates. With Hotel Engine, you can search a network of more than 700,000 hotels (including rural locations) and save up to 60% on your team’s lodging. You can also filter your search based on location and the amenities that matter most to your team, then visualize all of your booking activity in one easy-to-use dashboard.
As the world continues to put a big focus on renewable energy, solar is bound to keep thriving. By putting these retention strategies in place, you can ensure your company continues to thrive as well.
Audrey Fairbrother is the Content and SEO Manager at Hotel Engine. She spends her days writing about all things business travel, researching topics that are important to Hotel Engine’s audience and cultivating the company’s brand voice. When she’s not working, Audrey enjoys spending time with her family, and hiking in the nearby Rockies with her dog, Albie.