The true cost to business can be far greater, thanks to low productivity across organizations, high turnover, and the loss of the most capable talent. Executives need to own up to their role in creating the workplace stress that leads to burnout—heavy workloads, job insecurity, and frustrating work routines. Once restoration owners confront the problem at an organizational level, they can use organizational measures to address it.


First, it’s a sure-fire way to get them to quit. With the employer challenge of finding good people, and keeping good people, we’ve resorted to hiring anybody with a pulse. Employee workloads have increased in many organizations in which hiring has not matched growth. Too many companies overestimate how much can be accomplished and rarely check to see if their assumptions are correct. The overload problem is compounded for companies because the best people are the ones whose knowledge is most in demand and who are often the biggest victims of overload.

Everyone knows the human toll of burnout. Unchecked work demands sadly create the conditions for burnout (and employees quitting) — but leaders solve this!


Lost jobs, disgruntled customers, job screw-ups, forgotten tools and equipment on the worksite, and I could go on with many more financial losses.  Today, more than ever before, employee burnout is a common happening.

I recently was told by an owner that he was going to give his key project managers a big raise, but then he was going to demand they produce far more work! That mentality is going to blow up in his face. His logic is: give them a 20% pay increase and demand 20% greater productivity! The owner just LOST, and he doesn’t know it yet.

Another restoration contractor (someone I had begged to pay his PM’s more money) recently called me all upset because three of his four key project managers just submitted their notice. To make matters worse, (or great for the opportunities), they had their biggest referral month ever! They have one marketer, which I coach, is now averaging more than 30 losses a month from plumbers and agents.

Both she and I are thrilled, except now they have lost two of their best sales-estimator closers. Worst of all, since she gets commission – she loses when jobs aren’t closed – or worse – turned down for lack of technicians! Sadly, she’s also re-thinking her employment with the company.


I strongly suggest that owners hire “helpers” to support their “lean and mean” technicians. Everyone understands that profit is crucial, and even more so, we understand that Xactimate pricing is not keeping up with the real labor rate issue that’s happening right now!  For the typical restoration company – having  two or three good project managers – today REQUIRES that you hire helpers to serve the role of “apprentice.”  These helpers get to learn many of the basics, so it’s not as costly or difficult when a key person quits. Reality: It’s Very Good Insurance.

We live in a new world. In addition, the “older staff” don’t want to do it anymore at the same pace they used to. And millennials want more money – for less work – with no stress – no overtime – and convenient hours. Over the next ten years, millennials will make up 75% of our available work force so we better accept that quickly!


It’s usually “good business” to run lean and mean with your workforce – normally. We are NOT in normal times! In this new decade of 2021 and the foreseeable future, it is far more expensive for your company to lose employees from burn-out than it is to lose a little profit by hiring some helpers for your key technicians! All restoration owners are very aware of being prudent, efficient, and making good hiring decisions.

But owners don’t have a crystal ball, so smart decisions must be based on recent historical data. FACT: Since about 2019, and especially since the ‘pandemic’  employers have been facing unprecedented  work-force challenges.


When fast food restaurants are starting burger flippers at $15 – $18/hour AND offering $500 sign-on bonuses – it IS a new world of hiring.  Why would a young person (or anybody for that matter, want to crawl around in sewage, nights, weekends, and Holidays for the same or less pay than they can get at a clean easier job at a fast-food restaurant?

It’s time restoration owners stepped up their game and quit trying to bully people into doing dirty work for less money – just so they can drive a big fancy truck or have a sleek boat.  If you don’t truly take care of your people, they won’t take care of you!

By Dick Wagner, Co-Founder The CREST Network, LLC   

Nationally recognized coach, consultant and trainer

Creator of the renowned PREP™ pre-disaster program

Owner of BLOG

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