According to a WBR Insights study, 37% of field service organizations (FSOs) have experienced some difficulty in recruiting qualified technicians over the past 12 months. Meanwhile, as baby boomers retire, service organizations can expect to lose their most seasoned workers in greater numbers over the next ten years. These two points are indicative of a shortage of skilled technicians in the field service industry.
Other labor market conditions contributing to a workforce skills gap: a growing number of skilled trade professionals who prefer freelance, and insufficient interest in skilled trades of people entering the workforce.
Digital Solutions to Bridge the Workforce Skills Gap
To overcome these workforce challenges while meeting ever more rigorous customer demands, field service organizations need to integrate digital solutions into their knowledge management, workforce management, and field operations.
As experienced technicians retire it’s important their years of expertise doesn’t leave your organization when they do. To the greatest extent possible, FSOs need to pass this invaluable knowledge on to the next generation of workers. Digital knowledge management tools can greatly assist in this endeavor.
The process of knowledge transfer should include documenting repair scenarios with written instructions and video tutorials that can be stored on a centralized digital knowledge base. These will become valuable training resources for your organization. New technicians should also have digital access to product-specific manuals, repair checklists, and job notes on a searchable knowledge base.
Immersive technology can also help service-centric companies address the workforce skills gap. Some FSOs are already recognizing this, with 44% already implementing AR, VR, or MR solutions.
Augmented reality solutions bring a new level of detail to technician training and remote support. This technology enables technicians to practice realistic repair scenarios before they try their skills in the field. In addition, with smart glasses that generate digital overlays of real-world equipment, onsite technicians can reference step-by-step instructions or receive support from a remote expert.
Workforce management starts with recruiting and includes every process from scheduling service calls to paying workers.
Millennials now comprise the largest segment of the American working population and recruiting them will be key to building a workforce for the future. Millennials are digital natives, and 36% of young technicians found their first role via online listings. To reach this segment of the workforce, FSOs need to:
- Expand their online presence
- Use of digital tools
- Post job ads on platforms like Indeed and Glassdoor
- Interact with prospective workers on social media platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn
Younger workers value swift access to information, opportunities for learning and growth, and flexible work arrangements. Your digital transformation strategy needs to be designed to deliver on these job expectations. This can come in the form of employee portals through which workers can access:
- Payroll information
- Company and job wikis
- Scheduling info
- Professional education opportunities
- And more
To provide flexible work arrangements to both new hires and third-party technicians, FSOs need to implement digital solutions for flexible scheduling and remote training and support. To help our customers manage more complex workforces, Alliance Enterprise partners with WorkMarket, a contingent workforce solution. The resulting integration enables customers to source and schedule talent both internally and externally, track share inventory information, and make payments — all from the same platform.
This type of digitally-enabled workforce management will help FSOs to better attract and onboard both new hires and third-party contractors.
Greater Connectivity in the Field
Better connectivity for both human and equipment assets is increasingly expected, and can help you make better use of limited resources.
According to the WBR Insights Talent Gap Report, 27% of FSOs have already fully integrated sensor-equipped products, while another 37% are reviewing IoT solutions for field service over the next 12 months. By collecting live data from the equipment in the field, your team can monitor asset health and flag potential performance issues before downtime occurs. Furthermore, by collecting and analyzing field data, you will be able to notice failure patterns and schedule maintenance, as well as conduct inventory planning accordingly.
Similarly, technicians with more information and digital tools can produce better performance results. Mobile applications built for field technicians should connect them with asset and customer histories, parts availability, and job notes. With these tools at hand, your technicians will be empowered to do what they do best — keep equipment up and running and customers happy.
Close the Workforce Skills Gap With Smart Technology Investments
Changing workforce demographics are posing real challenges to field service organizations. Luckily, the availability of digital field service solutions provides the means to overcome them.
By investing in a field service platform that provides digital tools for knowledge management, workforce management, and field connectivity, FSOs gain a number of benefits including:
- The preservation of knowledge of retiring workers and streamlined employee training and onboarding.
- The workforce agility to complete more service calls and cover a greater service area, helping to boost revenue.
- The ability to predict equipment failure and maximize equipment uptime.
Ultimately, the right field service solution helps FSOs cut costs by achieving leaner operations and surpass customer expectations.
To learn more about how digital solutions can help your FSO conquer the workforce skills gap, contact us to request a demo today.