Where Have All the Technicians Gone?

Field Service News – November 21, 2021
In this article for Field Service News, Daniel Brebac, Director of Global Customer Transformation at a leading FSM publisher discusses why many service organizations are struggling to fill the gaps in their workforce right now and how they can improve their recruiting strategy.

A couple of years ago I was at a Field Service conference, engaged in the round robin style networking chats that we all know so well. Those are generally an opportunity for the companies that sponsor the show to chat with the individuals that attend. You have some nice banter about what the company or individual does, then you go on your way. On this occasion, two conversations stuck in my memory. One because I found it fascinating how their organization was attempting to turn the plant-based beverage market on its head, and the other because they seemed to have solved one of the largest issues that has plagued many asset service management companies – discovering the future of service techs.

For as long as I have been involved in service, my experience has led to a few truths:

#1 – Proactive maintenance is beneficial only if you are collecting and analyzing actionable data

#2 – Tracking parts can lead to one of the largest bottom-line savings in the service organization

#3 – Most service companies are still wrestling with how to counter the silver tsunami and attract the next generation of service talent to their organization

When trying to recruit more people to the abundance of career opportunities that exist in service, it helps to know what is important to your audience. I am reminded of a quote by Tracee Ellis Ross: “I am learning every day to allow the space between where I am and where I want to be, to inspire me and not terrify me.” The company that solved the issue around the future of service techs understood this. The Vice President that I spoke with had a connection to the local high schools and started his recruiting there. They shared the vision for where their target audience wanted to be in life, and how they could help get them there. As they joined the organization, these young adults received training, benefits, and were well compensated for the work that they did. Additionally, the company made sure to do annual resume reviews with the service techs, where they would help them to spruce up their resume to ensure they were prepared to take the next step in their journey if they wanted to look for growth opportunities in the future.

Let’s go back to the points of importance, because I don’t want anyone to miss the key takeaways when building their new recruiting strategy.

#1 – Compensation and Benefits

Let’s get down to brass tacks here – if a tech can make more money going somewhere else, or doing something else, there is a good chance they will leave. You must ensure that your compensation package is competitive in the market. Do your market research. I once spoke with a group of techs that jumped back and forth between companies for incremental raises. The companies spent more money on recruiting the service engineers back, than if they had just given them a raise in the first place!

#2 – Career Path

Many would assume that helping an employee with their resume will cause them to leave. In working with an employee on this, the company is demonstrating a couple things: they are committed to your growth as an individual, and they are recognizing your continued increased value over the years you’ve invested. Perhaps the tech doesn’t realize that they now have senior level experience on XYZ machine, and that qualifies them to spend some time training the new hires, instead of in the field. For techs with young families, this can be a huge benefit. Many techs spend a lot of time on the road, and the ability to spend a little more time at home with their family can lead to increased levels of employee satisfaction and retention. Expanding on that idea a little further, organizations must realize that there is not a singular path to becoming a valued part of the service team; multiple paths with varied career growth options is a must.

#3 – Emerging Technology

Generations that have grown up with the internet and cell phones in their hands have an expectation of utilization of technology to simplify their work. Many service organizations and solution providers have begun implementing Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Augmented Reality (AR) solutions into their service organization. Knowing they will be able to utilize future technologies in their workplace is exciting, has the benefit of making their job easier, and gets your techs in the field independently at a faster pace. If they have an issue with an asset, and a senior tech is available to coach them while working on the piece of equipment, the job is done quicker, the first time, and the need to return is reduced.

Many organizations are struggling to fill the gaps in their workforce right now; but the service industry has the distinct advantage in that it can provide on the job training, a shorter onboarding time, future careers opportunities, and strong compensation. Showcasing these strengths and understanding who you are trying to recruit will position your business for continued growth well into the future.

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About TimeLinx
TimeLinx delivers innovative project & service management software as a complete solution that perfects the sell-track-manage-support-bill cycle that services organizations must have to delight their customers; TimeLinx brings the cycle together in a single application that offers less frustration, better project management, complete reporting, and improved profitability – all specially designed for Infor and Sage.

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