This is part 2 of our 4-part series on field service talent. Last week, we spoke about the growing concern of a talent shortage in field service from an aging and retiring workforce. You can find the piece here.
In today’s discussion, we’ll focus on those worrisome Millennials, or is it Gen-Y ers? (Generations defined here) We’ve all seen the headlines, “Watch out for the Millennials.” As years go by, the term ‘millennials’ gets replaced by another generation. Right now the generation of choice is Gen Z. These newer generations are documented to be entitled, finicky, addicted to technology, and have no respect for social or leadership structures in organizations. What’s more, they have no loyalty to their organizations and move from role to another as it pleases them.
We’re beginning to see some of this rhetoric fade away (see fantastic work done by Amy Gallo). More and more organizations are realizing that they need to rethink how they appeal to a multi-generational workforce, now and in the future. The perceived differences between generations can be strengths and opportunities. The best organizations are those that are tapped into the needs and desires of their entire workforce and are creating growth opportunities for all. These growth opportunities might differ for different workers at various stages of their careers, but the support of these can still lead to a more diverse and fully productive workforce.
In 2013, the team at Ernst and Young polled 1,215 respondents belonging to different generational groups (Boomers, Gen X, Gen Y) to understand the perceived strengths and weaknesses of these groups. The expanded findings can be found here. To summarize, Boomers were seen to be/have:
- Executive presence
- Cost effective
- Relationship builders
On the other end of the spectrum, Generation Y employees were seen to be/have:
- Tech Savvy
- Social Media Opportunists
- Brand Ambassadors
The blend of these characteristics looks like a winning formula for an organization looking to differentiate itself with its quality of work and distinction of brand. To me, it also seems like there are numerous collaboration and mentorship opportunities across the groups given the general lack of overlap of characteristics.
Let’s talk about the younger/newer generation for a little bit. In The Service Council’s field technician-oriented research, we found the following to be true of those with less than 5 years of field service experience:
- They were at ease with the technology demands of their work
- They were interested in the career and learning opportunities provided at work
- They weren’t as perturbed as others by the sales demands of field service work
In the figure below, we see the aspects of their day-to-day work that these younger workers enjoy the most. For the most part, these aren’t very different from those in other age groups.
From a technology point of view, these workers are positive towards emerging technology trends hitting the field service space. They see these tools in their consumer lives and quite often wonder why they can’t have the same level of access to tools and experiences as they do in their personal lives.
Therefore, field service organizations must focus on nurturing the following characteristics of a younger field service workforce.
- They Are Digital/Technology Native: Younger workers demand the mobile and digital experiences in their day-to-day work and will have no time or patience for outdated paper-based tasks or information look-up protocols. As organizations focus on new technology initiatives to drive efficiency and business growth, they will find ready champions in their younger service workers.
- They Are Eager to Grow: This is true of all generations, but younger workers take a great deal of interest in learning and development opportunities. They also take a keen interest in understanding innovative ways to deliver value to their customers and to the organization. It’s up to the organization to provide learning and development opportunities in various formats (classroom, online, self-help) while recognizing the contribution and development of these individuals.
- The Like to Collaborate: The perception is that younger generation workers aren’t the best problem solvers, yet they are keen to collaborate with others to resolve issues. This is beneficial when it comes to the management of field service issues. It also creates a more connected field service workforce which can deliver engagement and safety benefits.
- They Want to Promote Your Brand: The perception that younger workers aren’t brand loyal is false. When fully engaged, they are eager and anxious to promote their organization’s brand. This is especially true when the brand aligns with personal or social values that are prioritized by these workers. Brand enthusiasts become incredibly valuable in promoting the service organization to current and prospective customers. What’s more important is that brand enthusiasts drive new talent into your service organization.
Over the course of the coming weeks, we will begin to document and highlight some of steps and practices that can be relied on to get the most out of a multi-generational service workforce. At the end of the day, its key that organizations work to grow with the capabilities of a combined workforce as opposed to choosing to become paralyzed by the characteristics of one generational group.
Our next posts on Field Service Matters will focus on:
March 22: Prioritized Actions to Deal with an Aging Field Service Workforce
March 29: The Role New Technology Will Play in Solving the Field Service Talent Crisis
If you’d like to chat with me about our research or if you’d like to tell us how your organization is dealing with the talent crisis, please contact me at email@example.com. Most of my research and work can be found at www.servicecouncil.com.