In a highly competitive labor market where it is increasingly difficult to recruit field service technicians, retaining technicians is more important than ever for field service companies. They need to put strategies in place to show technicians they are valued, offer them more attractive career prospects, and develop their sense of loyalty and belonging in the company.
The problem is not new
For several years now, field service companies have been struggling with a shortage of field service technicians. Competition for available technicians is high. Many positions remain unfilled. And technicians can often choose among multiple job offers.
As far back as 2007, industry publications were highlighting the challenges of recruiting technicians in the field service industry. In the last 11 years, the situation has become even more challenging. As a result, it’s more important than ever for field service companies to retain their current technicians.
A 2017 report published by the Aberdeen Group shows that technician aging and turnover is one of the four main issues facing service companies.
Source: 2017 Aberdeen Group report: Use Best-In-Class Service Management to Drive Operational Efficiency
Why technicians leave for another employer
According to the results of a technician survey published by the recruitment agency Page Personnel in 2015, there are three main reasons that technicians leave their positions:
- Job roles and responsibilities
- Salary levels
- Career development prospects
Today’s competitive job market gives technicians the upper hand in their negotiations with employers. Here are five tips to help you make sure technicians don’t leave your organization for another that’s ready to meet their requirements.
1. Pay your technicians properly
Attractive compensation is a major incentive for technicians to stay with your company. You don’t have to overpay, but in a competitive marketplace, you do have to ensure that your compensation packages are aligned with the market rates in your industry and geographic region.
Underpaying technicians is short-sighted and detrimental to business. Companies that consistently pay their technicians at rates that are below the current market wages experience higher turnover. The best technicians will quickly abandon your organization for more attractive offers, leaving behind only the least qualified and least productive technicians. In a challenging market, the lowest paying service companies are perpetually looking for new employees.
2. Offer training
When you invest in technician training, you’re investing in the long-term success of your company.
Most technicians want to evolve to take on more advanced roles and responsibilities. If they can’t expand their knowledge and grow within your organization, they’ll move to a competitor that offers better opportunities. The best strategy is to establish training plans that keep your teams educated and informed about the latest advances and best practices in your industry.
With the right training, your teams will feel more fulfilled and confident. They will have the skills and expertise needed to take on more complex and profitable jobs. And you will be able to improve first-time fix rates to increase customer satisfaction.
3. Offer career development opportunities
While training is an extremely important way to retain technicians, you need to go one step further and give technicians the ability to advance their careers.
In recent years, waves of retiring babyboomers have been gradually replaced by younger technicians with different expectations. Along with competitive compensation, this new generation of technicians is looking for positions that offer good work/life balance and strong career prospects. To retain these technicians, you need to implement career development plans that are logical extensions of your training programs.
4. Provide the right technologies
The new generation of field technicians is much more comfortable with technology than their predecessors. They hardly use paper at all. They grew up using mobile devices, apps, and other technologies that enable faster and more efficient communications and task completion.
Your new workforce wants to adopt a modern, rewarding and more effective approach to their job. Providing them with a mobile field service app, such as the one available from Praxdeo, helps your field teams work more efficiently and productively, whether they’re involved in maintenance, aftermarket service, troubleshooting or other field service roles.
With paperless processes, your teams can provide field service reports electronically, access their schedules in real time, travel on more efficient routes, and easily carry all of the information needed to complete service tasks.
Gone are the days when pounds of paper piled up in vehicles. Instead, technicians can access everything they need on their smartphone or tablet. Moving to more technology-driven operations will have great appeal to new-generation technicians. And it will help you improve your field service management to increase the overall quality of service delivered to your customers.
5. Make team spirit part of your corporate culture
Implementing measures that help field technicians develop an attachment to your company is key to keeping them.
It’s well know that if technicians are not happy with your company, they will leave for the competition. And the loss is even greater when an experienced technician leaves.
Field technicians lead a solitary existence, spending the vast majority of their time alone in the field. To help them feel part of a team, it’s important to develop a corporate culture that fosters engagement and team spirit:
- Maintain regular communications with field technicians and ensure there are times when they can have in-person exchanges and contact with other team members
- Take into account their feedback on how their service calls went
- Ask them what they like and do not like about their job
- Put measures in place to reduce on-the-job frustrations and, when this is not possible, talk to you teams to make sure they understand the reasons