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Pristine Blog

Technology, Millennials, and the Field Service Brain Drain

Posted by Lucas Schlager on Sep 16, 2015 5:19:13 PM

As times change, so do populations, and in turn workforces.

In the past, stable long-term career opportunities and the satisfaction of fixing something motivated young people to take hands-on jobs. But as millennials become a larger share of the workforce, motivations have changed.

Younger adults and recent college graduates are out looking for the most dynamic job they can find. Without the motivation to work 30 years for a pension, job tenures trend shorter and "company men" are rare. Further, young workers look for jobs where technology gives them the same advantages in their work that their iPhone does at home.

What does this mean for the field service team? Applying yesterday's recruiting methods to today's prospective employee base means a struggle to hire and keep workers.

Across industries, field service leaders express concern at the demographic shift in their workforces. Particularly in the heavy equipment world, prospective hires lack in mechanical ability what they bring in technological savvy. Combined with a growing demand for services and an "aging out" of seasoned experts, "brain drain" is a major concern among service teams.

To combat the brain drain, service teams must rethink not only the hiring process but the structure of the organization.

To attract great talent, service teams must look ahead to the millenial future. Millennials are are tech-native creatures. They understand the positive leverage technology can provide, and want to use this in their work. The service team must create a culture that embraces technology, and advertise that culture to attract young talent. Then, service teams must follow through on this advertised promise. They must tool up with technologies that make work faster, more efficient, and more accurate. Whether that's an iPhone for every technician or a robust IoT strategy, leaders in the space embrace the new. And they don't just do it to recruit from the millenial workforce, because...

Upstream technology investments pay downstream dividends.

Yes, a brand new iPhone for every technician makes for a nice job perk. But beyond the shiny metal and glass handout at employee orientation, a robust mobile strategy brings other benefits. Consider this: A technologically-connected workforce protects against brain drain. An example follows:

Seasoned technicians are the "brains" of a field service operation. They draw on their accumulated knowledge and experience to not just solve problems, but also mentor junior staff. This second component of their charter is the service team's best protection against brain drain, and must be emphasized. Luckily, most service teams already have informal workflows by which junior, less mechanically savvy techs ask their senior colleagues for help. Forward looking service teams take these existing practices, and enhance them, trading out phone calls in favor of live video. Using the camera on their iPhone, a junior tech can give a senior tech "eyes on" an issue, receive guidance, and solve the problem fast.

So to those with an eye toward the future and a healthy skepticism of the status quo, the path is clear. A strong embrace on new technologies serves each stage of the team's lifecycle, from hiring to mentorship to service operations.

What does your service team's technological roadmap look like?

Topics: The Pristine Story