Does it make a difference if your field services technicians are happy on the job? If they come to work enthused and motivated? Most managers would say, “Yes.” So they might be surprised to find out almost two-thirds of service workers (a group that includes maids, taxi drivers and repair workers) aren’t engaged in their work. In fact, 18 percent are actively disengaged, according to Gallup’s 2017 State of the Global Workforce survey.
That’s troubling for a number of reasons. If an employee isn’t happy or motivated, they’re less likely to perform well on the job. Also, actively disengaged workers may be a liability because they tend to act on their unhappiness. That’s not good in field services, where technicians visit customers throughout the day and thus serve as the face of the organization. If they aren’t engaged, they can negatively impact customer satisfaction scores. On top of that, disengaged employees tend to be absent more often and are less productive.
By contrast, Gallup found engaged workforces are 41 percent less likely to miss work and are 17 percent more productive. Additionally, companies with engaged employees earn a 10 percent increase in customer satisfaction and 20 percent more in sales.
What, then, can field services management do to better engage its workers?
“Businesses must recognize that an organization’s vitality and capacity for organic growth is inextricably tied to the everyday experiences of its employees,” Gallup said. The company described four types of needs organizations must meet: basic, individual, teamwork and growth. Here’s how investing in communications and collaboration technology can help field services managers address these needs to create a more engaged workforce.
Provide the right tools
One of the engaged employee’s most basic needs is having the right tools to do their job. For field services technicians, a robust communications solution is perhaps the most important asset. Mobility is essential. With their mobile device, technicians should be able to communicate with the home office and have easy access to customer data, scheduling details and directions. But, they also need access to subject matter experts and the ability to tap into other enterprise applications.
Emphasize employee strengths
Employees want the opportunity to do what they do best every day. There are plenty of reasons to dispatch technicians with the right type of expertise to handle a specific job, of course, but managers tend not to rank employee satisfaction ahead of lower costs or higher revenue. Maybe they should.
According to Gallup, when employees do work they’re inherently good at, they’re intrinsically motivated because it feels less like work. As a result, productivity and performance improve. Field services management can make it easier for dispatchers to match technicians to jobs by integrating field services management applications into their communications technology.
Businesses can also foster engagement by making it easier for teams to collaborate. In field services, technicians need simple access to subject matter experts who can help them resolve issues more quickly. With collaboration tools, they can connect via video conference, SMS or web chat with colleagues back in the home office.
Enable just-in-time learning
Since they work alone much of the time, technicians often operate more like entrepreneurs than employees. And Millennials, who make up a significant portion of the field services workforce, are problem-solvers who aren’t afraid to figure out issues on their own. But to do so, they need easy access from their mobile devices to support material, including internal documents, how-to videos and external resources. In re-imagining training in this way, field services management can meet their workers’ growth needs.
These efforts go a long way toward optimizing field services conditions to support technician productivity. Employees are happiest when they’re in jobs that make the most of their innate abilities, when they have the right tools, when they can collaborate easily and continuously learn. Field services management companies who make these things possible will be rewarded with more engaged and motivated employees. That translates into better customer experiences, faster resolutions of problems and an overall better reputation for the company.