Restoring Success: He’s Making a List (And Checking it TWICE!)

restoring success, restoration management

Why does Santa check his list twice? If we consider the practice of checking the list twice, we could speculate that there is a drive towards excellence and a desire to deliver legendary service. The list needs to be accurate and thorough; the list allows him to honor his commitments efficiently, and list is what is used to make sure that nobody is disappointed; so, he checks it twice.

Mistakes happen! Sometimes things go wrong and it’s not even human error, it just happens. When something goes wrong and we apply root cause problem solving which unveils that if we had checked our work, we could have avoided the issue, perhaps, there is a simple solution. Can problems be reduced with a little checking? Yes!

As a casual observation, when work habits include self-checking and processes that account for double checking things, the result is fewer errors, mistakes, and problems. As an ability, we may call it conscientiousness. Considering that errors, mistakes, and problems can have a ripple of disastrous consequences in our restoration organizations; it is deserving of some attention.

Have you ever wondered how someone gave you a message with the wrong phone number? It is likely because the number was not read back to the person who gave it to them. This is an example of a very basic self-check that everyone should be trained to do in the organization. When someone gives an email and/or phone number, you always read it back to them to make sure you recorded the very important contact information perfectly.  Being just one number off can make the difference between your ability to respond to a loss and/or honor the commitment to call a person back or not.  It’s a big deal and can be proactively managed by the work habit to double check.

True Story

As I walked into work one morning, I complimented a coworker on the speed and quality he executed in the reconstruction of a bathroom that experienced a water loss. He thanked me and qualified his response by explaining that he needed to go back that morning. He explained that the tank of the toilet leaked, and it needed a few parts. He had removed and reset the toilet. Since I had been pondering about an individual’s work habits and the ability to self-check work, as well as the supporting processes in the organization, I began to question him.

“How did you know the toilet was not working properly?”

“I flushed it to make sure it was working after I re-installed it.”, he responded.

“Why did you do that?”

As he looked at me with some dismay at my line of questioning, I answered for him, “Because you always check your work!?”

As I pondered, in over five years, I could not recall a defect or workmanship issue regarding the work of this individual.

I don’t know if he was specifically taught these work practices, if it is innate to him, or if he learned from mistakes; but I do know that I thought, what if everyone did that?

  • Equipment: Equipment would never be left behind. Even with the application of the software that tells you a piece of equipment is left on-site, if the person who installed it failed to scan it to the site, it can be left behind. A quick walk-through in the spirit of double-checking that all equipment is pulled can eliminate the call, “You left an air mover here.”
  • Repairs: Some trades lend themselves to easy checks. Install a faucet? Check that it works properly and is not leaking by turning it on.  Some trades require the detailed eye of a craftsman: is the drywall paint ready?
  • Instructions/work orders: Verify and review that all instructions were followed. We know that bad things happen When People Don’t Follow Instructions in their entirety and properly.

How do we improve by “checking”?

The examples of problems that can be reduced by checking are endless as are the potential solutions. It applies to everything from field execution to office, administration, marketing, accounting, etc. Here is a brief list to get started on helping our organizations and teams to improve with a little checking:

  • Organizational processes can support and contribute to checking in the spirit of reducing errors. A simple example is a co-worker double checking, inspecting (and signing off as “inspected”) contents before they get packaged for storage and/or returned to the customer.
  • Reconciliation is a concept that is often associated with accounting functions. A bank reconciliation is a check and balance that everything that is recorded in the accounting system is in perfect alignment with the bank system. Any discrepancy is identified and corrected. Reconciliation as a process can be applied to many areas within your company. As a simple example:

10 water losses to be monitored
10 monitorings are scheduled
10 readings/maps get submitted at day end
0 Steps were missed

  • Culture and Training always have a global impact in our operations and outcomes. We can incorporate checks (self-regulation) into the training of skills and tasks within the organization. Culturally, we should celebrate and hold people accountable to their level of conscientiousness in the performance of their work and be prepared to coach and develop them on improvements.

A little time in double-checking can have exponential value in time wasted and service-related issues.

Happy Restoring Success!

Lisa

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Burnout in the Restoration Industry | Part 1

employee burnout, restoration management, restoration management software

Editor’s Note: 

This is the first article of a multi-part series on employee burnout in the restoration industry.  Part one introduces the nature of burnout and summarizes findings from a study on burnout in the restoration industry. Part two begins a discussion on things restoration companies can do to manage one of the most complicating factors for burnout among restoration professionals – workload. Part three advances the conversation and discusses what restoration professionals can do at the individual level to manage workloads more effectively.   


Since the 1990s, experts have been declaring burnout levels are reaching epidemic proportions among North American workers (Maslach & Leiter, 1997). Since that time, most people would probably agree that work-related stressors have only intensified with the proliferation of metrics, technology, and the need to be “on” all the time. A recent study by Gallup (Wigert & Agrawal, 2018) surveyed 7,500 full-time employees in the United States and reported that 67% of the respondents experienced feelings of burnout on the job. Another study by Deloitte (2018) surveyed 1,000 full-time professionals in the United States and reported that 77% of respondents said they had experienced burnout in their current job. In addition, the World Health Organization announced it would be revising its definition of burnout in the 11th Revision of the International Classification of Diseases, effective Jan. 1, 2022. One of the primary changes will be how burnout is classified—this revision will involve a change in classification from “a type of psychological stress” to a “syndrome.”

Disaster restoration professionals operate in a niche of the construction industry that is inherently stressful. Their work often demands being on call and working long hours under stressful and dangerous conditions following fires, floods, earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, and a variety of other catastrophic events to structures. In addition, there are performance demands driven by metrics related to response times, project completion rates, customer service, and many other factors. Such conditions make restoration professionals more susceptible to burnout; therefore, it is important to understand the nature of burnout and how the effects may be mitigated.

“Burnout is defined as a crisis in a person’s relationship with their work, as well as a syndrome of three distinct feelings that comprise the dimensions of burnout: exhaustion, cynicism, and professional efficacy (Masiach & Leiter, 1997)”.

The reasons for burnout can be complex and are addressed at length in many studies and books that have been published on the topic over the past few decades. Many have debated the reasons for burnout, whether occasional feelings of burnout can be good for someone, the complexity of burnout and the degree to which non-work factors may contribute to feelings of burnout on the job (and vice-versa), and where future inquiries into the subject should focus—among other topics. While many of these factors are still being debated and explored, there are many things scholars and professionals have come to understand about burnout and agree upon. Specifically, it is important to understand that some industries have higher burnout rates than others and that contextual factors such as organizational culture and the capacity to cope with stress within individuals vary widely.

Regardless, there is much for an industry to gain by having a deeper understanding of employee burnout among professionals and to explore strategies for improving the health and lives of its members. The primary goal of this article is to discuss the nature of burnout, share findings from a recent study on burnout within the restoration industry, and begin a practical discussion related to how we, as an industry, can seek to thrive with the inherent challenges the industry faces. We hope many productive conversations develop from this article.

Restoration is a great industry that does great work for the great people of our society. It is inherently challenging and stressful, but rewarding for those who enjoy working hard and doing good work for good people in need. This article seeks to candidly discuss the challenges of burnout for restoration professionals and begin a productive conversation on how we, as an industry, can do our work in a rewarding, enjoyable, productive, and effective manner.

Burnout

Burnout is defined as a crisis in a person’s relationship with their work, as well as a syndrome of three distinct feelings that comprise the dimensions of burnout: exhaustion, cynicism, and professional efficacy (Maslach & Leiter, 1997).

Dimensions of Burnout

The three dimensions of burnout help us understand the primary characteristics of burnout and provide insight into the nature of the burnout experience.

employee burnout, restoration management, restoration management software
  • Exhaustion: The feeling of being overextended and physically and emotionally drained. “[It] is the first reaction to the stress of job demands or major change” (Maslach & Leiter, 1997). When someone is feeling exhausted, they lack energy and are unable to unwind and recover (Maslach & Leiter, 1997).
  • Cynicism: Leads to people developing a distant attitude toward work and the people surrounding them at work. In a sense, it is a defense mechanism that is deployed to protect oneself from exhaustion and disappointment (Maslach & Leiter, 1997).
  • Professional Efficacy: Relates to feelings of effectiveness and adequacy regarding a person’s work. Accomplishment is vital and it is important for professional development and self-confidence. As someone loses confidence in themselves others lose confidence in them (Maslach & Leiter, 1997).

Worklife Context

(Sources of Burnout)

Equally important to understanding the components of the burnout phenomenon it is essential to examine the primary sources that influence exhaustion.  There are six sources of burnout that mediate feelings of exhaustion:

Summary of Findings from a Recent Study

A recent study on burnout conducted by two of this article’s authors, Dr. Avila and Dr. Rapp, sought to explore the nature of burnout and worklife context (sources of burnout) among restoration industry professionals (Avila & Rapp, 2019). We distributed a survey that consisted of a demographic questionnaire, the Maslach Burnout Inventory, (MBI), the Areas of Worklife Survey (AWS), and a set of exit questions that gauged respondents’ turnover intentions. A total of 318 respondents completed the entire survey.

employee burnout, restoration management, restoration management software

The results on burnout revealed that, when compared to other industries, restoration professionals were experiencing higher levels of exhaustion, cynicism, and professional efficacy. The researchers had not anticipated this interesting finding. The model, as discussed in earlier in this article, suggests that as exhaustion increases, cynicism increases, and professional efficacy decreases. Why would restoration professionals have increased professional efficacy when the mediating factors suggest they should be experiencing the opposite? Is it their resilience? While years could be spent studying this to find an explanation we aren’t going to be doing that.  It is time for a practical discussion. We know restoration professionals experience burnout so it is imperative for us to discuss why we think this is the case and what we (professionals and employers) can do to mitigate the effects of burnout.

“Results of the six sources of burnout found that workload was the only source having a statistically significant effect on exhaustion for restoration professionals.”

Moving forward, an important part of the discussion on burnout should explore the reasons restoration professionals would experience burnout in a manner that is so unique and different from other industries. What factors do we think are contributing to this dynamic? Could findings on the sources of burnout help us understand how and/or why restoration professionals would experience burnout in the manner the study has revealed? Could the amount of hours restoration professionals work be contributing to them having a high sense of professional efficacy? Could factors related to the number of years they have worked in the industry influence their sense of professional efficacy?

employee burnout, restoration management, restoration management software

Results of the six sources of burnout found that workload was the only source having a statistically significant effect on exhaustion for restoration professionals. From this point, the researchers had to look to answers respondents provided in the demographic questionnaire at the beginning of the survey. There were two primary data points in the demographic questionnaire where the researchers discovered correlations to workload:

  • Number of hours worked: Respondents self-reported the number of hours worked and the average was 52 hours per week; however, some respondents reported working more than 80 hours per week. As the number of hours increased, the respondents were move likely to report a heavier workload.
  • Number of subordinates: Respondents self-reported the number of subordinates supervised and this finding was negatively correlated with perceptions of workload. As the number of subordinates supervised increased the respondents were more likely to report a heavier workload.

While workload, in itself, can involve many factors, we will explore ways in which it can be managed effectively at the company and individual levels. In the second part of this series, we will start to discuss how to manage the burnout.

Special Thanks

The authors wish to extend special thanks to the members of Business Networks who have graciously shared their experiences, NextGear Solutions who opened the door for public discussion on these topics among restoration professionals, and other industry professionals who have engaged us on the development of the study throughout the entire process. Thank you for the support, feedback, and valuable insight.

Lisa Lavender, Contributor and Co-Author

iRestore’s Referral Chart Reference Guide

To get the most out of your iRestore reporting system and features, it is critical to collect thorough and accurate information at the onset of the job. We have designed a Referral Chart Reference guide that can be adjusted to track based on your company’s needs. Check it out below:

restoration management, restoration management software

Tips on how to use your Referral Chart Reference Guide:
1. Train your team to collect the right information with the use of the chart.
a. Consistency is key.
b. Ask the right questions of your customer at the right time.

2. Utilize the reporting features to constantly evaluate the results and sources of your revenues.
a. Share reports with the appropriate team members.
b. Have a routine meeting schedule. For example, evaluate key reports once a week.

Managing Contracts And Documents With iRestore

restoration management, restoration management software

 

iRestore helps you manage and execute your documents and contracts without the burden and expense of multiple part forms and paper juggling. Your job contracts are integrated into your system and can be easily executed and shared. When you are on the go, your contracts and documents are with you via your ipad.  The extensive document feature allows all your company contracts and documents to be easily stored and accessible in the proper location. It goes beyond job specific documents. Document organization tools can be found in Job Files, Company Files and Employee Files. Whether it is a contract you sign with your phone company or a subcontractor agreement with a paint sub, don’t buy more file cabinets! Simply scan and upload to the “DOCUMENT” tabs in your system and never hunt for a document again.

Rest assured that when you execute contracts from your iRestore system signatures are date, time and GPS stamped for maximum security.

Ryan Smith, President & CEO

Contracts and Legal Documents: A Breakdown

“The purpose of a contract is to establish the agreement that the parties have made and to fix their rights and duties in accordance with that agreement. The courts must enforce a valid contract as it is made, unless there are grounds that bar its enforcement.”

restoration management, restoration management software

Although contracts may not be the most fun part of running our operations, they are necessary to protect our companies, customers and business partners. They are also part of the legal landscape in which we do business. It is part of our everyday operations to execute a variety of contracts and legal documents during the rendering of our services. Some of our most commonly utilized contracts include, but are not limited to Emergency Service Authorizations, Repair Contracts and Certificates of Satisfaction. Since many contract laws are dictated by your state, it is advisable to have your legal documents reviewed to ensure compliance.

The following list includes some considerations to review in your day to day operations:

  • Right of Rescission: In many states there is a “Right to Rescind” a contract, which is often three days. When executing an Emergency Service Authorization, evaluate the need to also execute a Waiver of the Right to Rescind due to the fact that the services and completion typically happen immediately or within the time allowed to rescind.
  • Change Orders: This must be executed consistently on repair contracts or you may impair your ability to enforce and protect the company.
  • Waiver of Liability: It is good to have a template with some language ready so that the company is prepared to execute in a variety of circumstances that you may encounter in your day to day.

restoration management, restoration management software

 

  • Waiver for Water Losses: Consider giving access to a Waiver for Water Losses form that is ready to go during the monitoring process of your water loss. View a sample waiver for water losses here.
  • Subcontractor Contracts: It is important to have contracts with your subcontractors that establish a legal basis for responsibilities, expectations and liabilities in the execution of work with your company.
  • Employment Contracts: Review and evaluate the need for employment contracts and agreements.
  • Other Contracts: “Always read the fine print.” In the juggle of our fast-paced worlds, it is tempting to skip the step of reading contracts that we sign in their entirety. I can tell you from personal experience; it is best to read and fully understand all contracts that you execute.