Your FSO Can Use Technology to Meet the Aging Workforce Challenge

5/29/2019 / Workforce Trends / Katia Loboda

aging workforce

The field service industry is undergoing major changes in workforce demographics.

A growing number of career technicians are preparing for retirement. Replacing this aging workforce is a big concern for 53% of field service companies, according to Field Service News.

Unfortunately, skilled labor jobs are increasingly going unfilled.

To help your service-centric organizations build a workforce capable of delivering excellent service now and in the future, we at Astea want to offer some guidance on:

  • Expanding your labor pool despite challenging workforce trends.
  • Capturing and using your retiring technicians’ knowledge and expertise.
  • Leveraging technology to recruit and train new staff and contingent workers.

Understand the Challenges of Today’s Changing Workforce

Consistently, skilled trade positions have been the most difficult to fill, according to research from WBR Insights. In fact, 45% of mid-sized companies have difficulty filling these roles.

Companies experience this skill gap for a number of reasons:

  • Skilled trade roles have been largely filled by baby boomers, who are retiring in greater numbers every year.
  • Younger workers aren’t stepping forward to fill these roles. For every worker entering a skilled trade profession, reports Career Explorer, five workers are ready to retire. In a study we at Astea completed, we found further evidence of the industry’s labor crisis: 67% of millennials would not choose a field service job as their first career choice.
  • More workers are setting up shop for themselves as independent contractors.

To overcome these changes in the workforce, field service companies like yours must leverage technology to preserve retiring workers’ knowledge, recruit a new generation of field techs, and make use of a contingent workforce.

Keep reading to find out how you can achieve these goals!

Capture Retiring Workers’ Knowledge

With their decades of experience, your veteran workers are arguably your most valuable asset. It’s imperative you not lose their skills and knowledge when they retire.

aging workforce

Because 93% of field service organizations (FSOs) use experienced workers as mentors, mentorship programs are common elements of aging workforce solutions. And field service management (FSM) software such as Astea’s Alliance Enterprise can enhance mentorship programs with digital tools and mobile applications’ “green” workers can use to reference job notes, checklists, repair scenarios, and more. In addition, senior technicians can use augmented reality applications to remotely train their less experienced colleagues.

To encourage your senior staff to participate in mentorship programs, you may want to offer such incentives as cash rewards, “Best Mentor” honors, and hardware like tablets or smartphones. (Using devices as perks can also speed up technology adoption in your field service operation and delivery.)

Leverage Technology to Build Your Future Workforce

A major reason the industry is having trouble replacing the aging workforce with younger workers is the perceived low-skill, low-tech nature of skilled trades jobs.

To debunk this perception, companies like yours need to adopt more modern technology into training and operations.

Tech for Training

Young people joining your team will be digital natives who expect modern technology in the workplace, including the means for swift communication through multiple platforms. Field service organizations will benefit from keeping in touch with employees via text and instant messages, email, and mobile scheduling applications that send automatic alerts and sync with technicians’ calendars.

In addition to modern communication infrastructure, the technology you integrate should also include employee portals. Just as customer portals provide a place for clients to check service history, request maintenance, and receive status updates, employee portals are a centralized platform through which workers can access all their payroll information, company and job wikis, scheduling info, professional education opportunities, and more.

Employee portals also create opportunities for off-site training when used to host on-demand training videos and forums in which workers can ask questions and exchange knowledge.

Tech for Contingent Workers

The growing number of skilled tradespeople opting to work as independent contractors has prompted some 77% of FSOs to use contingent workers to meet field service demand.

Quickly arming contingent field service technicians with skills needed to deliver excellent technical and customer service can be difficult. But with a comprehensive FSM solution, you can successfully expand your workforce and still achieve important field service management KPIs like first-time fix and customer response time.

Learn how to refine your KPIs as the world of field service evolves.

Using field service mobile apps, new technicians can easily access customer and job histories so they arrive to each job knowledgeable and prepared. In addition, scheduling features like Astea’s Dynamic Scheduling Engine use time-of-day and real-time traffic data to provide techs with optimal routing. Additionally, customer-facing applications can keep your clients in the loop through technician location tracking and job status notifications.

Make Technology Integration Part of Your Solution

Many FSOs are already grappling with the realities of retiring workers and an aging workforce. Building a workforce for the future of field service presents challenges, but the right technology solution can help you not only preserve retiring workers’ knowledge but also diversify your workforce with young, contingent technicians.

Want to learn more about how FSM solutions can help you overcome aging workforce challenges? Contact an Astea representative to schedule a demo today!

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