Staffing for the snow season is one of the most critical aspects of managing a snow and ice management business effectively. Through the combination of technology, partnerships, and tried-and-tested practices, businesses can not only ramp up quickly for the snow season, but also maintain a stable, effective workforce throughout the busy months. Let me delve into the details of our approach at CrewTracker.
Ramp-Up and Maintenance:
Segment roles into varying skill levels—plow truck drivers, snow shovelers, field supervisors and more. This allows the implementation of tiered training programs.
Partnerships with Local Organizations
Build alliances with trade schools and local job centers to have a pipeline of trained crew personnel ready to deploy.
Include an onboarding system that includes safety training modules, role expectations, and equipment tutorials. This helps to get new recruits up to speed in record time.
To ensure retention, offer performance-based incentives and end-of-season bonuses. Perks like meals and transportation during heavy snowfall days when the workforce is stretched thin are always welcome.
Use a robust scheduling, routing system (like CrewTracker Software) that considers services, routing, weather data, vehicle availability, and labor hours to optimize shifts. This ensures no one is overworked while maintaining peak performance levels.
Maintain a 10-15% surplus of critical equipment to ensure that equipment failure doesn't halt operations. Track equipment health.
For a portion of your business, negotiate fixed-term contracts to ensure staffing levels remain constant.
Using a mobile app, crew personnel can update their status, request backup, or additional supplies. This keeps everyone in the loop and helps address issues in real-time, thereby improving job satisfaction and retention.
Recruitment starts early and provides time for background checks, training, and any certifications.
Depending on the size of the organization, not everyone may need to be onboarded at once. The initial team is trained and prepped by early October. Additional staff is then trained in multiple phases to coincide with expected surges in demand.
Use advanced weather data that is integrated (like CrewTracker Software) into your system, to forecast the severity of the upcoming season. This also helps to modulate hiring strategies effectively.
Recruiting for the Snow Season
In the snow and ice management industry, the work is indeed challenging but enormously vital, often making the difference between a community paralyzed by winter storms and one that can function safely. This vital aspect forms the cornerstone of our pitch to prospective employees.
First and foremost, highlight the social importance of their role. The team is responsible for making roads, driveways, and public spaces safe and navigable. This is not just a job; it’s a public service that can save lives.
Offer intensive training programs that certify our team members as specialized snow and ice management professionals. These certifications can be valuable career assets that set them apart in the labor market.
Using a digital platform offers real-time analytics, route optimization, and other advanced features that reduce manual guesswork and elevate the job into a tech-savvy role, appealing to a younger workforce.
A lucrative pay structure, including performance bonuses, makes the financial aspect equally enticing. Offer competitive hourly rates and end-of-season bonuses for retention.
Demonstrate the opportunity for advancement. High-performing employees have a clear path to supervisory or managerial roles.
Community and Team Spirit
The nature of the work creates a strong sense of camaraderie. Foster this through team-building events and recognition awards.
By framing the job opportunity in these terms, you offer not only a paycheck but also skill development, a sense of purpose, and a community. This multi-faceted approach has been highly effective in attracting committed, long-term employees to our seasonal roles.
Communication with Snow Removal Employees
In a snow and ice management operation, real-time, accurate communication is absolutely crucial, and it's also a challenge. Workers are often out in the field under extreme conditions, where normal methods of communication can be unreliable or unavailable. The urgency of snow events means that plans can change rapidly; a delayed update can mean a critical route remains untreated, with potential safety implications.
To overcome these obstacles, consider leveraging a multi-modal digital communication system:
Use a mobile app (like CrewTracker Software) where employees can view their routes and services - which is updated in real-time. GPS integration shows upcoming assignments and weather alerts to keep them informed on-the-go.
For urgent updates, texting with employees is excellent to ensure immediate attention.
Supervisors have access to dashboards that provide an overview of worker locations, job status, and available equipment, enabling them to make informed decisions quickly.
In the case of major events or changes in operational strategy, a quick all-hands conference call can ensure everyone is on the same page.
By using a blend of modern digital tools and traditional communication methods, we strive to ensure that our workforce is as informed and prepared as they can be, no matter what Mother Nature throws our way.
Show Appreciation and Recognition
Appreciating the hard work of snow and ice crew personnel is not just good ethics—it's good business. The nature of snow and ice management work is physically demanding and often carried out in harsh conditions, making recognition crucial for morale and retention.
Through targeted recognition programs, you can convey a clear message to the workforce: their hard work is seen, valued, and essential to the success of the company and the safety of our communities.
Here are some effective ways to show gratitude:
Offer performance-based bonuses tied to the number of jobs completed, or hours worked, especially during peak times. This not only incentivizes hard work but also tangibly rewards it.
An end-of-season event, with awards for ‘Employee of the Season’, ‘Most Reliable’, etc., fosters a sense of community and publicly acknowledges outstanding contributions.
Spot Bonuses and Gift Cards
Immediate rewards like spot bonuses or restaurant gift cards for exceptional performance can have a significant impact. They serve as instant gratification and encourage others.
Offering to upgrade equipment for the most efficient teams not only shows appreciation but also makes their work easier.
Sometimes, a simple thank you note or message from the management recognizing individual efforts goes a long way in making employees feel valued.
Provide Relevant Perks and Benefits
In a challenging industry like snow and ice management, perks and benefits can make a significant difference in employee morale and retention. Offering these perks shows employees that the company sincerely cares about their well-being and values their contributions, thereby making a demanding job a bit more manageable and fulfilling.
Here are some tailored benefits we've found effective:
Weather Gear Subsidies
Provide quality winter gear or subsidies for purchasing them ensures workers are well-equipped to handle the elements.
Hot Meal Programs
On long shifts or severe weather days, a hot meal can be a comforting morale booster. Occasionally, have meals delivered to the job sites.
Utilizing a Digital Services Platform like CrewTracker Software, workers can opt into shift/services that work best for them, promoting work-life balance.
Health and wellness packages, including free flu shots and physical therapy sessions, help keep our workforce fit and ready for demanding tasks.
Given the early or late hours, offering transport options or fuel allowances can make commuting easier.
Learning and Development
Access to online courses or skill-upgrading workshops related to machinery, safety protocols, or leadership development can be a valued perk.
Family Event Tickets
Providing seasonal event tickets, like a summer amusement park pass for their family, can bring a sense of work-life balance and familial inclusion.
For more expert advice on managing staffing for your snow season operations, read this roundup of pro-tips from our partners and customers: Recruiting, Hiring & Retaining Snow Management Staff, or download our free job description templates below.