How to Recruit and Retain
Field Service Talent in Utilities
Utilities can’t do their mission-critical work without the right field service workforce. Find out how to appeal to the teams you need and keep them.
Editorial Lead, Senior Manager, Salesforce
Understand each utility worker’s motivations
Consider different generational preferences
What employees want may depend on where they are in their career. Are they just starting out or nearing retirement? Understanding each generation can help you with utility worker recruitment and retention in field service.
- Gen Z: The newest arrivals to the workforce might view utilities as old-fashioned, lacking innovation, and slow to adapt. This generation gravitates toward exciting and fast-paced experiences.
This is easy to find in field service at a utility company, so show them the possibilities during recruitment. They can fix state-of-the-art equipment, operate drones, or drive all-terrain vehicles through thick vegetation for an installation. In every field service role, they use digital tools to solve problems.
- Millennials: With experience under their belts, they now seek more interesting work and increasing responsibility. They may already have digital skills that apply to power systems, including IoT, energy storage, and sophisticated transmission and distribution systems. They can use these skills and develop new ones as they advance in their field service career.
- Gen X and Baby Boomers: This generation currently makes up more than half of the utilities workforce. They are often motivated by employee training and leadership opportunities. They also may enjoy passing their wisdom along to other workers. It’s critical for them to do so before they leave for another opportunity or retire.
“Whatever their generation, every utility worker in field service wants to feel valued.”
Senior Director, Industry Product Management and Strategy - Energy & Utilities, Salesforce
Offer strong baseline compensation, benefits, and rewards
Express your appreciation
Boost morale and motivation by praising your field service technicians’ accomplishments, both privately and publicly. Share supportive and appreciative words among colleagues and supervisors. You can do this one-on-one, through email, through a company performance portal, or in company-wide meetings.
Another way to show how much you value your field service workforce? Make sure they have the technology they need to do their work efficiently and get great results.
Cultivate a digital-first company culture
See how your utility company can supercharge field service
Set up utility workers for short- and long-term success in field service
Every utility worker in field service should start their day with the tools they need to do their work most effectively. Be sure to also provide them with access to support for more complicated challenges. Ongoing exposure to and training on new technologies as they are adopted is also a must.
Here’s how to help your utility workers handle today’s challenges and prepare for what’s ahead in field service.
Make field service digital-first
Digital-first field service helps utility workers solve problems faster. Mobile capabilities enable utility workers to access knowledge articles, videos, and tutorials and solve problems, even if they are offline.
Utility workers can also update the job notes in real time. All the information syncs into the platform, with duplicates resolved, once they are back online. Data captured on each visit is normalized and can be used for reporting and analysis to improve operations going forward.
Automation frees utility workers from time-consuming tasks, like manually logging service ticket details after a field service visit. Automated workflows guide them through steps to complete the job and post-visit follow-up. They can also engage with the system’s more sophisticated features to solve more intricate problems.
Customers also benefit from automation. An automated appointment assistant capability sends them a pre-arrival checklist and information about safety protocols at the job site. It also sends them real-time updates with the field service technician’s estimated arrival and name.
Offer visual remote assistance
Adopt innovative digital tools
Staying on top of technology can transform your business. Consider what happened when some utility companies started using drones in field service. They now send these unmanned aerial vehicles to inspect areas that are challenging to visit in person. The drones send back data for real-time analysis.
These utility companies get a jump on vegetation management, which is their single largest budget line item. They can also more quickly assess damage from storms or other events. They also attract drone enthusiasts to their company — nearly a quarter million people are FAA-certified remote pilots. Every new technology will tap a new pool of interested job candidates.
Map clear career paths to build field service employee loyalty in the utility industry
What does your newest trainee need to do to advance to the next level? How can a seasoned utility worker in field service switch to a different department if that’s their goal? If a field service technician wants to move into a dispatcher role, how can you help them? Map out the paths to new career destinations.
Most career evolution springs from new skills and deeper experience. Provide robust learning and additional training opportunities to all employees. It’s critical to their growth and engagement, yet many organizations are falling short.
Just 61% of service professionals say they have access to on-demand training. Trailhead, Salesforce’s free online learning platform offers anytime access to modules that help employees stay up to speed.
Utility companies can also develop customized training programs to upskill utility field service workers. This might include a combination of in-person and virtual classes, digital learning resources, and more. Upskilling increases retention, creates a more flexible and adaptable workforce, and improves employee satisfaction.
Teach utility workers how to use a comprehensive field service platform
Your experienced or highly skilled employees can share their wisdom with novices in formal or informal sessions through chat or video. This way, one expert can help train dozens of workers around the globe. Encourage ongoing mentoring relationships or set up a shadowing program as well. This keeps important knowledge within your company, even when employees leave.
Finally, give employees opportunities to apply their skills on new projects or in new departments. This adds breadth to their knowledge and experience, a process known as cross-skilling. By practicing existing skills in new situations, they can prove they are ready for their next opportunity, whether it’s an upward promotion or a transition into a different role.
Build your field service workforce in utilities for today and tomorrow
About the Author
Editorial Lead, Senior Manager, Salesforce
Jill Wagner is an editorial lead and senior manager at Salesforce. She joined Salesforce through the ClickSoftware acquisition. Jill is an award-winning marketing communications professional, experienced in conceptualizing and creating marketing content for leaders in the SaaS and manufacturing spaces. She has a Bachelor of Science in Marketing from Bentley University and a Master of Arts in Advertising and Marketing from Emerson College. Connect with Jill on LinkedIn.