Before you get started, ask yourselves these questions.
- Do you need help finding the required skilled technicians for your field service business?
- Do you notice any changes in identifying skilled technicians in the past few years?
- What steps do you follow to find skilled technicians?
- What measures have you taken to address the skill gap among technicians?
In an article by Lowe’s to promote the trade industries, there will be 3 million unfilled jobs in the skilled trades by 2028. The demand for technicians is slightly higher than the number of technicians available—resulting in a combination of an aging workforce and fewer younger workers. The skill gap will continue to widen the gap if the younger technicians do not enter the field service industry at the same rate as the demand
Regardless of what your particular industry is or the size of your field service team, you have probably noticed the impact. Most field service companies need help to fill open jobs. They are aware of the widening skills gap. Field service companies need to focus on attracting millennial workers and implementing strategies to close the existing skills gap.
7 best practices for filling the talent gap
Acting proactively and investing in the development of your technicians can not only help bridge the talent shortage—but also create skilled workers that exceed customer expectations, boosts overall productivity, and contribute to the growth and success of your field service business.
1. Provide on-the-job training
Encourage your service technicians to understand their duties, responsibilities, and customer expectations. Off-the-job training methods may work out, but in the longer term, it may not. It consumes time, and not every employee will be able to commit the knowledge to memory.
Unlike off-the-job training, which uses presentations and assignments to familiarize employees with a work scenario, on-the-job training methods guide them with practical, real-world applications. Contrary to that, on-the-job field service training helps employees to get an accurate idea of improving their skills.
On-the-job training helps identify performance issues and where technicians are struggling. It offers real-world procedures and solutions based on experience in the field—invaluable to your new field service technicians. Working with old hands can help new technicians feel more competent and confident in tackling more complex jobs.
As on-the-job training is a shadowing period, they can get an accurate idea of their roles and understand the expectations, as well as what is needed to provide the best quality of work. Such practice helps to improve first-time fix rates and overall customer satisfaction.
2. Help embrace new technology
Adapt new technology, like field service mobile apps. Many productivity apps and IoT technology are out there in the market to help inexperienced technicians to work more productively. Millennials and Gen Z technicians have grown up in the digital era. They are not just open to adopting new technologies to ease time-consuming tasks like scheduling and dispatching — they are expecting it.
Providing technicians with a mobile app to access information in real-time and keep an eye on their daily schedule helps them to work more efficiently and be more productive. Many field service management software packages come with a field service mobile app that helps technicians on the go to access their schedules, customer information, job checklists, and more.
Encourage your technicians to use apps to improve their subject knowledge and improve their productivity to look up solutions on the job and fix issues immediately while on a job site.
3. Implement a blended workforce
Implementing a blended workforce is a strategy recently embraced by many field service businesses hoping to fill the talent gap. Adopting a blended workforce is nothing but combining full-time field service technicians with gig workers to meet service demand and the changing needs of your business.
With a blended workforce, you can utilize gig workers who have specific skills and experience that match your business requirements, giving you access to a larger talent pool. This is made possible using an online gig workers network or software product.
Did you know that 71% of companies agree that outsourcing field service technicians enable them to handle fluctuating workloads more quickly and with greater efficiency?
By blending the gig-economy workforce with full-time workers, field service businesses can hire gig workers as needed and use full-time experts for high-priority jobs. Hiring freelance technicians will provide you with flexibility and scalability. When dealing with specialized tasks, your business can simply assign the right skilled freelance technician for it.
4. Conduct regular performance check-ins
Look for ways to conduct performance check-ins to get an overview of where technicians are lacking. The performance check-ins don’t need to be usual formal meetings—have a coffee, chat, and listen to your technicians.
Start the conversation with,
“How did your weekend go?”
“Are you finding anything stressful?”
“Do you find anything difficult at work?
Ask what’s bothering them when it comes to performing their daily operations in the field. Find out if there are any stumbling blocks you can help with. What started out as stumbling blocks for a tech could turn into roadblocks for the company, so try to be mindful and get ahead of potential problems.
In the same way, you can share your feedback and suggestions—informally. Guide your technicians in a friendly manner. Discuss their success or failure—help them identify their strengths and weaknesses. Present a clear idea of what they are doing well and what things they need to work on. Help them make a plan for their performance improvement with clear goals and objectives.
Before your technicians, weak spots turn into real issues. Make sure your managers are in a position to spot those—and step in to help. The takeaway for your technicians? They get to benefit from the insight of someone with years of experience, and they get to feel cared about. It becomes much easier for them to reach their full potential and solidify their skills and knowledge.
5. Offer personalized training
Personalized training may seem like a luxury. But the fact is, each technician has a different set of strengths, and the skills and training they bring with them are equally unique. Each job role demands a distinct skill set. And also, their learning approach differs from one technician to another. In such cases, a common training method cannot be sufficient. Many companies have considered giving personalized training to technicians to help them address existing skill gaps.
So, how do you start? First, conduct a performance analysis from time to time. A periodic performance analysis will give you a good sense of what areas need improvement. Based on that, you can set up individual training goals that are unique to each technician.
Not everyone learns in the same way. By creating a variety of resources to deliver the same information but matched to different styles and preferences, you will be able to maximize your chances of training employees successfully. By tracking their performance and monitoring their progress, you can get a good sense of where additional training is needed and where they excel—potentially able to tutor less experienced technicians.
6. Provide career growth opportunities
Upgrading their skills is something that most employees want. When they have been given the right guidance on career advancement, they can get an idea of acquiring the skills and knowledge they require.
Show your technicians that they have your company and managers’ support in their desire to grow. Help them outline a career path in your industry. Mentor them with experienced field service technicians who can offer hard-earned insights and professional guidance to your technicians.
Encourage them to explore various career opportunities and work towards it to enhance their skills, knowledge, and certifications. Help them evaluate their skills themselves and set realistic goals.
Consider setting up a career advancement program to help them ramp up faster. With such a program, you can make sure that your field teams stay up-to-date with the latest advancements in the FSM industry, acquire the required certifications, and even collect and maintain a record of customer recommendations. Taking a proactive approach to help them build their career can keep your employees motivated while meeting your business needs. You can also encourage them to build a professional network that they can call on now and in the future.
7. Facilitate upskilling and continuous learning
Helping technicians grow their skill sets is a reliable way to reduce the skill gap that your company may be facing. Offering the opportunity to build new skills relevant to their jobs while honing existing ones is a way to invest in your technicians.
The survey also emphasizes that facilitating learning programs and upskilling opportunities are helpful in improving their engagement and retention rates—and contribute to a business’ long-term success.
Getting practical knowledge and learning new skills in the flow of the job can be an efficient way to make your technicians feel valued and more invested in the job. It also helps them to sharpen their skills and apply them to their role. To start, develop a learning plan. Help your technicians gain valuable insights from mentors and industry experts. And provide constructive feedback whenever it is needed.
Field service technicians are the face of any field service company. They are an invaluable resource and a key element to your field service business growth. The widening skill gap may alarm you, but you can use different strategies to improve your technicians’ skills. We hope we conveyed the importance of addressing the skill gap issue and provided useful strategies to overcome it. Would you like to stay tuned for more field service industry news and tips? If yes, then get everything in your inbox by signing up here.