Is highly trained, drug free, and felon free still the standard for employment?

By Todd Liles Is highly trained, drug free, and felon free still the standard for employment?
ex convicts in the trades

The highly trained, drug free, and criminal background free employee has been the golden standard of the retail residential contractor for the last 20 years.  But is this standard changing?  Will the pressure of the recent labor shortages and political movements create a new standard in the residential trades?  RELATED – Classroom Training

Let us explore this question together.  I hope that this conversation starts here, and then spills onto Facebook, LinkedIn, and into your company.

The Highly Trained Employee

Every client deserves a highly trained plumber, hvac tech, or electrician to take care of their problems.  This is an easy thing to agree upon. 

What’s more challenging is to define what the term “highly trained” actually means.  Surely the consumer will have one opinion on the subject, and the business owner will have another opinion.

There are no clearly defined lines that are universally governed by a 3rd party.  Yes, there are organizations like NATE to define this standard for HVAC Techs.  However, a NATE certification is not an absolute requirement for most areas (Nor is it an agreed upon standard for perfection.)  Many states require an apprenticeship program and testing procedures to prove competency in the field of plumbing and electrical.  Yet again, this is not required by all states, such as California.

I’m not advocating a federal standard be instituted to define “highly trained.”  I’m simply pointing out that the system as it exists is flawed.  There is no clear definition of what it means to be highly trained.

Question:  How do you define highly trained?  Share on Facebook and LinkedIn.

The Drug Free Employee

Alaska, Washington, and Colorado have legalized marijuana.  This trend is sure to carry over into many other states soon.  Business owners in those states are having to ask themselves a new question:

“Do I hire the tech that smokes pot on the weekend?”

The answer to that question was easy when the law defined pot as an illegal drug.  Illegal drugs are always off limits.  What about the legal drugs?

Think of it this way, would you fire an employee for drinking alcohol on a Friday night? 

I think most business owners would not fire someone for the occasional weekend of “good times” when it comes to alcohol consumption, but what about marijuana?

I encourage all of you business owners to think about this topic now.  Put into writing what your policy regarding employment will be related to drug use.   Define the off limit drugs by name, not just with the term “illegal.”  Don’t wait for the political environment to change before you get your thoughts together.  RELATED – KRA:  Key Results Area

Question:  What is your stance on the drug free employee?  Share on Facebook and LinkedIn.

The Criminal Background Free Employee

This is the topic that most of you will be faced with sooner rather than later.  There is a very good chance that you will interview someone this week that has served time in jail.

“The number one trade taught in the prison system is plumbing, followed by hvac, and then electrical.” 

I have heard that line used so many times to differentiate between companies.  The implication is, “A crook can’t be trusted!  Therefore, you should do business with me, because I don’t employ crooks.”

I’ll be the first to admit that I have used those techniques, and I believe in the power of those techniques as well.  RELATED – Overcoming the “You’re too expensive” sales objection

However, I have a strong personal struggle with this topic.  It goes like this:

  • I am a Christian.  I am called to forgive, and believe in the power of redemption.
  • I have worked with released convicts in the past.  Some were completely redeemed, and could be trusted with any assignment.  Some were just waiting for their opportunity to commit another crime.
  • I am a skeptic.  I distrust overnight transformations of behavior.  You have to take the time to prove to me that you are a changed person.

Not all crimes are equal, but all indicate a serious lapse in judgement.  How do you weigh into your hiring equation the person’s previous situation?  Perhaps they were young, and under the deep influence of bad examples.  Would that make a difference in whether or not you would hire someone?

Question:  Would you hire someone with a criminal background?  Share on Facebook and LinkedIn.

All of these questions will become more critical with each passing day.  Each question deserves serious contemplation and planning on your part as a manager and owner.  I recommend that you make your decisions today on how you will handle the current changes our industry is facing.

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