Crowd Service Blog Series Part 2
With Millennials entering the labor market in full force, companies are witnessing a whole new set of expectations when it comes to work life. Millennials, born between the 80s and 90s, were exposed to technology at a young age. The Internet is their go to source for information. Being connected is so natural that the lines between work and play are blurred for them.
At the same time, there has been a growing talent gap for manufacturers engaged in field service operations. This has now become a C-Level priority, and has been identified by many service executives as their number one problem. And this challenge is compounded by the growing need for quicker response, higher first-time-fix rate, and the need to provide proactive service before a failure occurs.
The 2 biggest reasons for this talent gap:
An aging workforce:
Many established manufacturers have their most experienced field professionals approaching retirement, and this loss of 20, 30, 40 years of experience is impossible to replace.
Younger generations entering the workforce have chosen different paths in the New Economy and far fewer are following the traditional path into field service (trade schools, apprenticeships)
There is a huge case to be made to Millennials (as well as Generation Z for that matter) as to why a career in field service may appeal to them more than the careers suggested by their peers (and parents). And companies stand to capitalize from the Millennials intuitive use of technology and willingness to work differently.
This is a fortunate development for service companies. Because it is not just Millennials who are changing, it is also the entire labor market. And employment models, like Crowd Service, are poised to accommodate the kind of flexible work-life balance lifestyle that the younger generations are looking for.
1. Doing something important
Millennials often express an interest in pursuing professions that are meaningful. They want careers from which they can derive a sense of purpose. Though it might not seem so crucial at first glance, fixing equipment used in mission critical applications is in fact incredibly important to the companies relying on it. It could mean a world of difference when considering the hours of productivity and capital lost to even minimal downtime.
Is it more important than developing a new app? Often, yes. If you’re not going to be a doctor, one of life’s most impactful professions, why heal the machines doctors rely on? MRI, CT, OR robotics and vision systems are vital to doctors and patients.
The field service technician is seen as a trusted advisor to customers. So someone looking to be valued for his or work and to provide expertise on the front line directly to customers, will get both job satisfaction and high praise from customers and employers in the field service sector.
Is working on different challenges a desire? Ask any field service pro how many times they’ve had a boring day – no Groundhog Day here. Part of the fun is the challenge of asking “I wonder what I’m going to face when I walk through this door?” every day.
Millennials are collaborative by nature, and the constantly changing nature of field service work orders demands collaboration. Different machines, configurations, applications and environments create so many variables that collaboration is essential. In fact, this is an area many service operations are trying to strengthen by introducing collaboration tools. Something the younger tech savvy generation will quickly embrace.
4. Tech tools
Everyone loves new technology, but no one more so than younger generations. Most companies use tablets and iPads, and powerful apps and advanced cloud based software to help field service professionals get the jobe done quickly and accurately. Raised on smartphones and iPads, and persistent when it comes to instant access to information and solutions, Millennials are well-situated to understand the demands placed on service technicians. They are also in the best position to embrace the use of technology for solving the issues of the modern workplace.
5. Different office every day
When starting a career, many newcomers to the workforce are apt to insist “I don’t want to work in an office”. Well, field service provides a constantly changing environment with a consistently new set of issues and a regular need for novel solutions. On top of that, service technicians are not chained to the traditional “9 to 5”. They have the flexibility to determine their own hours while also being part of a contingent workforce.
6. Making money vs. owing money
When one takes the traditional route of a university degree or costly and time-consuming training vocational training, one thing that is virtually guaranteed is a sizable debt and a large time investment. One thing that is not guaranteed: a job after graduation.
With the high demand for field service professionals, it is almost certain that qualified candidates will land a job. And one that pays pretty well. All of that without the worries brought on by a future of debt and questionable earning capacity.
Instead of considering what degree path may or may not work, (and amassing a mountain of student loans), Millennials can choose to work first, gain invaluable skills, make a valuable impact, and have the time, flexibility, and economic leeway to consider the best career path. And even more attractive: many service organizations offer tuition reimbursement, training, and career counseling. On top of that you receive constant recognition for a job well done, daily challenges, job satisfaction, and most likely a secure position once you graduate.
Working in the field often requires on the spot decision-making. Without a supervisor hovering over you, one of the most essential skills field service technicians have to master is how best to solve problems. Armed with tools like augmented reality interfacing and video tutorials, service technicians are given the freedom and trust to reach the best conclusion for each customer.
This kind of autonomous work environment demands independent thinking, keen insight, clever workarounds, and confidence in one’s own abilities. Millennials, accustomed to seeking out information just within reach of their fingertips, are ideally suited to handle the pressure and reap the rewards of satisfying tough customer requests. And this in turn explains the trend towards a gig economy as outlined in Part 1 of Crowd Service Blog series "Maximizing your business with gig workers".
It is time for service providers to rethink their image. In order to attract the next generation of technicians, they have to truly understand what it is Millennials want. And they have to realize that a career in field service is able to provide exactly that!
For more information and deep understanding of the Crowd Service concept we suggest to read the following white paper:
Author: Manuel Grenacher, CEO Coresystems