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  • Writer's pictureSimon Cooper

The Silver Service Tsunami. Will you Sink or is there a Lifeline?

Updated: Oct 13, 2020

The Service Workforce is Aging

The field technician and service workforce in general, is aging. These folks are approaching an age and time in their lives where they want to retire and move on to their next chapters in life. “So what” you might say, that’s natural and anyway I have other middle aged and junior technicians already in the team. Great but what about the skills, knowledge and experience gap left as your older team members retire? It’s all in their heads and when they retire it disappears to.

Senior field technicians are an incredibly valuable asset familiar with so many aspects of products and service within an organization. These technicians have honed not only their technical skills through experience and collaboration over time, they have also developed deep knowledge of the customers they serve, and the assets deployed across the field. Furthermore, they are relied on by other team members for their knowledge, how many calls, emails or other requests for help do the senior field technicians get each day?

Will You Sink?

The world population aged 60+ is increasing faster than any other age group. According to the United Nations’ 2019 World Population report, by 2050, 1 in 6 people will be over the age of 65, up from 1 in 11 in 2019. Research from Field Service News reports that 73% of organizations have identified an aging workforce as a potential risk to their field service operations. A survey run by Service Council reported that 70% of respondents were concerned about the knowledge loss from a retiring field workforce. The Manpower Group surveyed approximately 40,000 employers about talent shortages and found that 45% of employers have difficulties with recruitment.

If you don’t have a plan as your silver technicians retire, then it may be hard to stay afloat.

Is There a Lifeline?

The good news is there are several strategies which can act as a lifeline, some strategies can be implemented as part of your overall HCM lifecycle, others can be achieved through leveraging existing technologies or new technologies such as Collaboration Platforms or a Service Enablement Platform.

Going Part Time

Talk to your silver service technicians and discuss options around retirement, perhaps they are willing to work part time instead of retiring to help bridge the gap, or even switch to being 1099 contractors setting their own hours. This approach buys additional time while you implement other strategies.

Remote Support

Perhaps your silver service technicians would prefer less field work and switching them to remote support, acting as a technician help desk for the junior team members. Having the right technology to help remote workers collaborate over video, or even augmented reality to provide a virtual hands on approach is important, and makes adoption and operation simpler. Equally important is implementing a solution for capturing these one-to-one interactions and the knowledge gained and making it available to the wider team. Using a service enablement platform allows the sessions and knowledge to be curated, tagged and then delivered to the relevant groups so everyone gets the benefit.

Coaching and Mentoring

Implement a coaching and mentoring strategy to pair junior team members with senior team members. The seniors get to pass along knowledge and skills, and the juniors can absorb it. Focus on setting goals for both to help drive the knowledge capture, curation and transfer. Knowledge and skills don’t have to be transferred in-person when using a service enablement platform. Senior technicians can curate and publish real-time job aids, while also reviewing and coaching junior members on their field recorded submissions. Imagine your team with the ability for junior technicians in the field to quickly record videos from their phones and submit those for feedback by the seniors. The juniors get coaching and mentoring advice and all of this is done inside a single enablement platform.

Use More Contractors

Adding additional contractors to you team can help alleviate any resourcing issues you have. Contractor utilization is growing, but so is the competition for their time and contractors are more difficult to train on policies, procedures, service and products. If you don’t have the right technologies in place, supporting contractors can prove difficult. Most organizations don’t have a specific training environment for contractors, and company resources get locked away in internal HR systems and data stores. Adding a service enablement platform gives you the ability to expose the right training, education and product information to contractors without exposing anything they don’t need access to. Plus, collaboration between internal technicians and contractors becomes possible.

Don’t be one of the ones that sinks, grab a lifeline and get high and dry when the silver service tsunami arrives.

Simon Cooper

Field Service Industry Professional (25 Years)

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