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Attracting Millennial Talent in the Modern Field Service Industry
(Image source: zedrecruitment.com)
The sustainability of the field service workforce is a growing concern for all involved in the industry. How then can field service ensure that they are attracting the right talent to fill these roles?
In a 2017 (most recent statistics available) poll, 70% of respondents expressed concern about the loss of knowledge and skills from a workforce rapidly approaching retirement. As members of the baby boomer generation near the age of hanging up their hardhats, one would hope that a deluge of fresh young talent would be pouring into the industry to take up the mantel. However, this is not proving to be the case.
Millennials are simply not being recruited in high enough numbers to fill the gaps left by their more aged peers, and the whole industry is being threatened with a talent crisis as a result. Drawn to more modern industries such as tech and marketing, something needs to change to make the field service industry more appealing to Millennials.
Those people populating the younger generations are not a big mystery, they are normal people, just like anyone else. And, like anyone else, they have their own hopes, dreams, and desires when it comes to their careers.
One of the core differences between Millennials and preceding generations is they tend to be far choosier when it comes to the companies they seek employment from. Therefore, the key to attracting Millennial talent, is understanding what they want from a company they work for.
Millennials understand, maybe more so than their predecessors, that companies need employees as much as people need jobs. They are far more comfortable asking a business what they are willing to do for them and diving a little deeper into the company’s ethos. They want to work for businesses with a strong moral compass which aligns with their own and are more than willing to walk away from potential employment if it does not. Therefore, field service companies would do well to find ways to volunteer and give back to their communities if they want to attract Millennial talent.
They also tend to be far more likely to leave a job for greener pastures and are always on the lookout for the next big opportunity, so it never pays to be complacent and think you necessarily have an employee for life.
Millennials have grown up with digital technology all around them, with the vast majority not remembering a time before the internet was widely available. Most have also never known a world without smartphones – at least in their adult/working lives.
It’s no surprise to learn then that these young adults naturally gravitate towards those companies which have adopted the very latest in modern technology. Living in a world where digital tech is always at their fingertips makes it difficult for them to understand why a business would forego its use.
Field service has a load of exciting technology available to it. From robots and drones designed to facilitate inspections, digital devices which assist with fault identification and repairs, to IoT powered components able to self-diagnose and arrange engineer visits, Millennials are going to be drawn to field service businesses which employ the most exciting modern tech.
Huawei is making great roads in this area by employing artificial intelligence powered machine learning in its HR process. However, whereas this technology is often used to locate talent and fit them to ideal roles, it is also helping to bridge the communication gap between employer and recruit.
AI powered bots can create job descriptions, search for potential recruits, vet CVs, and, finally, initiate first contact with them. Candidates can often feel in limbo during a recruitment process, so having a chat bot on their smartphones to communicate with can help them to relax while hunting for work.
“Of their own volition, all the people in this generation have learnt how to use a smartphone,” said HR Director at Huawei Technologies, Vinod Nair. “They’ve learnt that skill without any significant external pressure within a very short span of time. The good news, therefore, is even though there is a lot of disruption in technology, from a skill perspective, the adaptation is going to get easier.”
Millennials are far more into collaborating with their colleagues than working completely independently. They want to have huddles and meetings where they can thrash out ideas and get involved. Millennials place a high value on having a sense of community at work and would rather be coached than bossed around.
While the nature of field service tends to involve a lot of independent working, there are ways to incorporate increased collaboration into the day to day running of your business. For example, beginning or end of day huddles are a great way to get everyone together and start fostering those interpersonal relationships. Regular work excursions can also give your staff a way to let their hair down and get to know each other better.
"Perhaps never before has there been such a significant difference between the generation leaving the workforce and those that are just beginning their working lives," reports Kris Oldland for Field Service News. "From the way knowledge is gained and shared through to the key motivational drivers, Boomers and Millennials are often chalk and cheese. One of the key challenges for field service companies of all shapes and sizes is how they adjust to this shift in thinking within their workforce and, for many, time is not on their side as they endeavor to make this adjustment."