- SafeTouch (Jacksonville, FL / United States)29.Nov 2015
The company culture at the technician level seemed to be critical. Critical in the sense that feedback was almost always (or at least seemed like it was almost always) focused on how a job could have been completed faster / safer / more efficiently / etc. without sacrificing anything in terms of quality. For some individuals this can feel a little intimidating or exhausting; I thought it was one of the greatest advantages of the culture.
Support from management
The strongest leadership support was from the lead install and service technicians. Shortly before I left in early 2012 they had been making improvements in the support from direct supervisors by getting them more involved in the continuous training (communication of best known methods as well as necessary technical knowledge) of the technicians.
At the technician level (install/service) the degree of teamwork can feel pretty minimal at times since most jobs are individual responsibilities. However, when it came to sharing the best known methods, helping troubleshoot problems encountered on the job, and helping each other out (e.g. picking up a ladder or hand tool that was forgotten at a job site because they were in the area) the degree of teamwork was really outstanding.
Freedom to work independently
The workload was typically well distributed and technicians have a lot of responsibility and significant degree of freedom with regards to how the assigned jobs are accomplished. This isn't to imply that there wasn't a high standard expected of the work, the expectation was that we performed the work to the highest standards in the industry/region, but that which methodologies were applied to solve individual problems was an area where techs had a lot of flexibility while working with the customer directly.
Communication was a strength with respect to the Leadership Support, Teamwork, and Company Culture as I have mentioned. Yet, something I didn't notice while working there, was that there was a little bit of a disconnect on communications about the corporate level (i.e. monthly, quarterly, annual profits, record number of installs/service calls in a day, awards, recognition, etc.). If I had been more interested in these things it may have been something I could have requested more information on from the direct supervisors and this may be something that has changed since I have left.
In some respects this was extremely hard to gauge from a technician's level. The pay structure was as equal as I can possible imagine regardless of irrelevant factors (i.e. gender, race, religion, creed, etc.) and this was interesting. The downside of this equality was that it negated some of the drive to continually improve in one's trade since the equality severly limited the actual or perceived potential for increased earnings. Additionally, an advancement within the ranks of technicians typically meant that someone else lost their position as the lead or an advancement from a technician to supervisor could result in a significant pay-scale restructuring which may or may not be advantageous. It was one of the many situations where equality was detrimental to a company and its employees to some degree. This equality was one reason I sought employment elsewhere--inequalities are a powerful motivating force.
Attitude towards older colleagues
Typically the older colleagues have been there done that and tried a thousand different approaches to solving a problem until the figured out what worked best for them. These were often communicated as problems arose and team members needed assistance in recognizing the best solution. The long standing colleagues were highly appreciated by their fellow technicians and added a buffer between escalation to direct management that was beneficial for everyone.
As a technician I felt like this was the absolute weakest point of this company. Due to the issues of having too much equality (discussed in the equality section) there just didn't feel like there was any hope of making any headway with any notion of career advancement. There were a couple of changes to the pay structures (damn near equal for every tech) that felt detrimental and gave the impression (especially to techs that had worked there for many years) that they were effectively backsliding in their career (which they were highly open and vocal about). In contrast, when there was an opportunity to move into a supervisory role (potential for a management track) it would have been to my economic disadvantage (hours/pay) even though it may have been a significant stabilization/improvement with respects to the working conditions (in other words it came at far to high a short term opportunity cost for a company I wasn't sure I wanted to work for/with during the foreseeable future). This is of course something I think had the potential to be changing as I was leaving and could easily have changed in the years since I left.
Overall compensation for your work
In most cases I think that the wages and salaries matched the responsibilities. There were a few jobs that jump to mind from an install perspective which were significantly bigger than they were expected to be and felt like pay did not match the work required or responsibility assigned--this was something that was changing some in the months before I left (if an initial assessment of the job was wildly different from what the paperwork stated it needed to be escalated immediately and could have resulted in an extra hand, a doubling down on the expected completion time, etc.). Again, things were changing for the better in this respect when I was leaving. Pay was satisfying in most respects but the fact that there was so little potential for an increase in pay it was disheartening. Benefits were offered but I don't remember them being a selling or staying point. I don't remember any delays in pay or potentials for bonuses.
Office / Work Environment
In part, the working conditions are relative to the season, individual investment in specialized tools, and particular job site/task. During the summers it can get uncomfortably and dangerously hot running wire in an attic but this isn't always required. Specialized tools and applying the right methodology to solve a problem efficiently could sometimes significantly improve the working conditions (e.g. using push poles to send or grab wires to minimize time in an attic or reach locations that would otherwise be out of reach)
I have rated this as a three because it wasn't a huge consideration so far as I could tell at my level but it wasn't something where there was clearly room for improvement.
The work life balance was one of the things most complained about at the technician level. Vacation days did not always appear to be available at just any time or without a few weeks prior notice and approval. On the plus side, working hours were not set but entirely dependent on proficiency at completing the assigned tasks. On some days this might mean that the physical work lasted 3 hours (add in an hour or two prior to the physical work to meet at the shop on most mornings for training/parts refills/paperwork filing). On other days the assigned work might last longer than a twelve hour work day--and these were work loads that were not always recognizable at the start of the day. It was unclear if families were taken into consideration or how they were if so but it wasn't something I was paying much attention to or cared about. There is some peer pressure in terms of working hours but it usually matched the individual pressure techs placed on themselves to complete jobs as efficiently as possible since it maximized the amount of money that could be earned per hour invested at work in any given day.
Most of the times the corporate image was seen as being pretty favorable with respects to quality and customer service. Typically I thought that the image reflected reality very closely--from the few customers that call me periodically even years after I left the company they seem pretty happy. Yet employees were not always fond of the working conditions while feeling trapped at the company--fond talk on these topics (the company as an employer) was not always common.
This was an awkward point. In one respect there was a sense of job security so long a tech was performing at a successful level. Unfortunately, performance reviews between techs / supervisors / managers was darn near if not entirely non-existent when I worked there. This lack of feedback created a sense of insecurity which was compounded by the equality of pay and lack of clarity in regards to career development paths.
I am rating this a three but I don't really know how to answer this since it didn't clearly apply to the job roles I worked in or directly (in person) with. Since the job sites for technicians were in the homes, businesses, and offices (perhaps a significant portion of which being in an attic or basement) of other people this would be impossible (or at the least infeasible and cost prohibitive) for any company to do.
The company dedicated a lot of time to training employees for OSHA compliance at job sites. This is particularly important since the employee had a great degree of autonomy and responsibility to ensure they complied with the regulations and stopped the job when unsafe work conditions existed (most common probably being the need for a taller ladder). Given that the most common was ladder related (need for a taller ladder at a job site) the company was making the sales team assess this need and document the need for taller ladders (those greater than 6 or 8 feet). Additionally, at least some members of the sales team were shadowing the technicians on some job sites during initial training / periodically per supervisor / customer request which was giving them a better sense of when these tools were needed and what limitations existed when pitching (perhaps a very crude word choice given that a sales pitch really isn't required in many instances where the customer already knows what they want) to customers.
The technical aspects themselves were not always what I would call challenging but it was pretty basic low voltage electronics. On the other hand, the amount of variation between technologies used could add a degree of difficulty at times and require a significant amount of technical expertise (i.e. reference materials, phone call to a systems expert, additional training prior to undertaking a job, etc.). Additionally, each job (due to job site variations, customer preferences, equipment used, season of the year, etc.) offered unique problems and opportunities. Solving those problems to complete each job definitely gave me a sense of accomplishment and I was almost always proud of the work we were doing (there are a few jobs that I would have loved to have re-done having known some of the tricks I picked up as I spent more time with the company--specifically with regards to aesthetics)
Inclusive / Diverse
I have rated this as a three of five but honestly it wasn't something I paid any attention to or cared about. If the company cared about diversity it wasn't so over-reaching as to prevent me from doing and /or enjoying my job as has been the case with a couple other companies I have worked with and for. Diversity (as it is most commonly applied) does not add or take away from business goals at the technician level. Diversity of opinions and ideas (a less common application) was kind of negated (thankfully) by the open communication of the best known methods which helped to standardize the methodologies applied to solve individual problems. Where some diversity was notable and beneficial was with regards to customer service when a customer was agitated for any reason (e.g. were robbed the day before they hired us to come install an alarm system) in which case there were definitely times when specific individuals were assigned to the job due to the diversity they brought with them (i.e. caring/comforting appearance/personality, integrity beyond reproach, etc.)
What I like about the company
The company culture of continuously learning from jobs and each other made for a greater sense of community (team work and communication) and accomplishment (when applying learning successfully) at times.
What I dislike about the company
The equality of the pay structure at the technician level and lack of clear career development paths or communication about these paths were the primary issues I had with the company which ultimately resulted in me deciding to seek employment elsewhere in 2012 (things could have change significantly since then).
The following benefits were offered to me
- CompanySafeTouch (Jacksonville, FL / United States)
- CityJacksonville, FL
- Are you a Current or Former Employee?Former job since 2012