There’s no sugarcoating it – the field service industry isn’t glamourous. Swing by your kid’s classroom and take a quick poll on what everyone wants to be when they grow up. Video game guy, Google employee, astronaut, firefighter, and on the list will go. If you find even a single child interested in being a field service tech, I’ll – well – I’ll be impressed, at least.
It may surprise you, then, to find the average age of techs is 32 and that 20% of the workforce is under 30. On the other end of the age spectrum, 8% of the tech population is over 60. As a manager, you’re in an odd spot, trying to manage folks across the age range.
Millennials as digital natives
Rachel Burger, Capterra’s resident Millennial expert, pegs the Millennial cutoff at 1982. Born before then, and you’re Gen X, Greatest Generation, Lost Generation, or Star Trek: The Next Generation. With an average age of 32, the typical field service tech is a Millennial, born in 1983.
These are people raised on technology. The internet was around for most of their adult life, school papers were composed on computers, and by the time they graduated from college, they could buy an iPhone. As field service businesses take more technology to the jobsite, having employees who are comfortable with the technology is going to be invaluable.
In a perfect world, you’d be able to transfer some of that knowledge around your organization. Say hello to your perfect world.
Using employees to train other employees doesn’t have to be the awkward scenario we’re all envisioning. The clichéd setup of the young whippersnapper teaching the crotchety old guys how people are doing things now is not what you want.
Instead, just make it easy for techs to talk to each other in the field. Maybe you have one of your strongest techs ‘on call’ for other employees to get in touch with. Maybe you use an internal social network, like Salesforce’s Chatter. Maybe you just pair the tech-savvy with the technophobes. Whatever you do, take advantage of that knowledge transfer.
Retaining younger talent
The field service industry doesn’t seem to have any trouble attracting talent. It’s full of new tech, creative problem solving, and offers plenty of autonomy – what’s not to love? But just because you reel them in doesn’t mean you can keep them in the boat.
Millennials are coming to your business with lower average wages, more debt, and a whole host of unique social and personal issues. Addressing those needs can help you keep them around. For the payment and debt issues, you’ll have to get creative.
Many Millennials have been burned by the traditional success ladder. They did well in school, went to college, and came out with no job and unprecedented student loan debts. To help attract new talent, some employers have added student loan payments to their benefits packages.
You can also help your employees understand and manage their debt by using some of that old-timer wisdom. Plenty of your employees have paid off houses – let them teach the younger generation how to budget better.
If you can reward them in the ways they need and keep them happy with solid benefits, you should have no problem holding on to younger talent. The job hopping Millennial theory has been debunked. Millennials are different – but they’re not aliens.
The benefits of having younger employees on your staff are hard to overstate. They’re eager, smart, and loyal. They want to be part of something bigger, and you can offer them that bigger ideal to strive for. You’re going to be seeing more and more of these folks in your workforce, so it will pay to get ready.
Rachel also put together some great tips on hiring millennial construction workers, and many of the points apply to field service. Good luck!
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