According to a recent survey, 58% of business leaders would describe hiring today as “difficult” or “extremely difficult.” Compounding these workforce issues are an unstable economic landscape and the lingering effects of the recent COVID-19 pandemic.
Deploying a “blended” workforce to overcome the field technician talent shortage is a strategy that forward-thinking organizations should consider. A blended workforce is a staffing model that uses full-time employees and contracted workers within the gig economy to help meet the fluctuating needs of a company.
It’s increasingly necessary to deploy a blended workforce to mitigate the evolving technician talent shortage — allowing organizations to stay agile and deliver high quality service. Organizations may consider deploying independent contractors in the field but are concerned about the need for more control and visibility over the quality of the work, the customer experience, and the brand’s reputation. Fortunately, strategically managing contracted workers and their deployment to maintain customer relationships and expectations can provide a solution.
A recent IDC report on field service customer experiences found that the “acceleration of a blended field service workforce is required to meet the dynamic needs of the service organizations and helps drive field service excellence and quality.” To successfully deploy a blended workforce, the following initiatives provide measured guidance.
Extend your workforce strategically
Using a network of contractors allows companies to expand their workforce and remain flexible as workforce and business fluctuations occur. Quickly hiring too many full-time employees while navigating the challenging global headwinds of economic changes, inflation, war and recession may not be an ideal investment. High-quality contractors can help meet needs while organizations take the time to look for full-time staff.
Additionally, as seasonal demand arises, a blended workforce solution allows field service managers to deploy contractors as needs arise strategically. 71% of companies who outsource field service technicians say it enables them to adjust quickly to fluctuating workloads.
Tapping into blended workforces is also a global trend. In North America and some European countries (i.e., the United Kingdom, Germany and France), contracted workers could deliver higher levels of quality service (39.0% and 29.7%, respectively) or at least the same level of quality (35.4% and 45.3%, respectively) as internal teams.
Empower the blended workforce with the right technology
At the end of the day, customers don’t care if it is a full-time employee or a contractor on the service call as long the job is completed. Adopting technology that allows your organization to manage the two workforces seamlessly is essential to meet customers’ needs. Deploying the right field service management software that helps oversee a blended workforce promotes greater agility and autonomy.
Organizations that leverage a blended workforce — with the right field service management technology in place — have more flexibility to deploy the right field technician, whether that person is an employee or contractor. For example, suppose a field service manager needs to find a field technician who can complete a job quickly. In that case, they must identify the best technician based on their skill, availability, and location. The right field service management tool allows the manager to select the technician with the tools and experience to complete the job in one visit — giving the organization more visibility and control over the workforce and service quality and, in the end, improving the customer experience.
Customer expectations are becoming increasingly important. The right technology for the blended workforce can help meet those customer service demands. For example, high customer demands may indicate a need to improve first-time fix rates to maintain brand loyalty. Strategies to augment first-time fix rates include improved inventory tracking, customer equipment service history, efficient technician selection and routing, and better communication between dispatch and the field technician.
Enhance the blended workforce technician experience
Improving employee and contractor workforce satisfaction and retention is another critical initiative for field service organizations managing a blended workforce. By selecting a field service management software optimized for mobile use, managers can efficiently select, schedule, and dispatch the best employed or contracted technician.
Equipping your blended workforce with modern mobile tools makes their job easier and enables them to deliver higher quality service. Identifying an easy-to-use and integrated solution can significantly impact field technicians’ user experience. The inability to access important documents and the added task of finding the best route to the job while cross-checking inventory and organizing jobs based on location can create major inconveniences for technicians. A mobile-enabled field service solution allows technicians to focus solely on delivering a high-quality service.
Succeeding with the right technology, despite the talent shortage
The relationship between technician and employee experience is closely tied. The future of a high-quality field service experience depends on identifying a solution that harnesses both employed and contracted technicians to meet customer demand.
Whether it is a technician talent shortage, economic fluctuations, or a global pandemic, strategically deploying a blended workforce with the right technology can better position your company to scale and succeed.
About the Author:
Brad Hawkins is a long-time veteran in the world of Field Service technology having been with ServicePower since 2004. He came to ServicePower from KeyPrestige as part of the acquisition of our Warranty Claims Management platform, giving him over 20 years of experience in work force management software.
Brad has held supervisory roles in Operations, Development and Product Management. Currently, he is responsible for the strategic roadmap of the ServicePower platform and driving the development teams to produce innovative and valued solutions for our clients.
He holds a BS in Business Information Systems from Long Beach State University in California.
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