From The Editor | January 22, 2016

How To Prepare As Millennials Invade Field Service

By Sarah Nicastro, publisher/editor in chief, Field Technologies
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Sarah Nicastro

There’s a common challenge creeping up on many field service companies, and that is the fact that the majority of their seasoned, tenured field service technicians are reaching retirement age. Replacing those workers with newer, younger techs is complicated for a few different reasons — the departure of tribal knowledge, the transfer of that knowledge to the new workforce, the ramp-up period that is unavoidable, and so on. But the issue I want to talk about today is the difference in the nature of these new millennial workers.

How Are Millennials Different From Your Current Workforce?
Millennials are generally perceived as more self-centered — but that generalization doesn’t really help you to understand what they need and how that may be different from what you’re used to providing. Let’s take a look at some of the specific differences that are known to exist between your aging workforce and the millennials who will ultimately replace them:

Millennials want to be informed and included. Where your existing workforce may be happy to follow orders they’re given as long as they’re generally happy and collecting a paycheck, millennials want to feel like they’re a part of something bigger. They want to feel more informed and included in the larger company vision, goals, and path, whereas your existing workforce is happy to simply get their job done.

Millennials expect opportunity to advance. One of the biggest and most important differences among the aging workforce and millennial workforce is the turnover rate. Where your existing workforce may, again, have been happy for many years to do a job they’re familiar with, take home a check that pays the bills, and leave it at that — millennials will not be happy with this arrangement. They feel a constant need for advancement and the opportunity to grow into different roles.

Millennials use and love technology. This can be a big benefit! Instead of cajoling your workers to use the latest technologies, millennials will embrace automation. That said, the trade-off is that they may also have stronger opinions on what tools you should be using and how.

Keys To Success For Recruiting And Retaining Millennials
So what can you do to have success recruiting and retaining millennials? In terms of recruiting, make sure your company’s image and communications are up to par with what a millennial expects. Does your website present well? Can they apply and submit a resume through the website, LinkedIn, etc.? Are you using social media? You won’t find and attract these workers the same way you did those who are about to retire, that’s for sure.

Make sure to keep millennials informed, and provide a sense of inclusion — give them opportunities to interact with the team and to voice their opinions. Share the company’s goals and objectives with them so that they feel a part of the bigger vision.

Decide how you can foster an environment of advancement. Are there opportunities for progression in roles? Can you set up a variable pay structure they can advance through to continue to reach new heights? Make sure they feel challenged and as though they have the ability to progress at the company.

This is really just the tip of the iceberg, because this is such a complex topic and one we’ll be covering more. But I hope this at least provides some thinking points if you’re in the position — like many are — of needing to tackle this major transition.