Your Guide to Mobile Workforce Engagement

How to bring mobile workers and companies closer together

Time to read: 8.5 minutes

Employee satisfaction is on the line.

Many field service organizations struggle to retain their mobile workforce. The job is inherently solitary and unpredictable, which makes it hard for mobile workers to feel connected to their co-workers and the company. With the physical safety challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic presents to a mobile workforce, emotional support is especially critical to employee engagement.

When employees are disengaged, they’re more likely to leave for another opportunity. To add to this, legacy mobile workers are retiring and a new generation is cycling in, bringing high expectations for their employers.

To maintain top talent and nurture the new crop of mobile workers, field service organizations must prioritize employee engagement. Without it, employee satisfaction — and by extension, customer satisfaction — profitability, and overall productivity are at stake.

In this guide, you’ll learn how to identify gaps in employee engagement and discover ways to improve this metric. But first, let’s define what it means to be an engaged employee.

Traits of an engaged employee.

 
  • Has a caring manager or supervisor who encourages their development
  • Feels a positive connection with coworkers
  • Aligns with the organization’s goals and mission
  • Feels confidence and pride in the company and leadership
 
  • Has a sense of purpose
  • Goes above and beyond expected duties
  • Intends to stay
 
  • Knows what’s expected of them with readily available training and materials
  • Receives regular communication from leadership, feedback, and recognition
  • Feels appreciated by the company
 
  • Strikes a work-life balance
  • Has opportunities for professional and personal growth
  • Recommends the organization to friends or family
Now that you’ve seen the ideal state of engagement every field service organization should strive for, read on to find out how you can achieve it.

Contents

Understand current mobile workforce challenges

A tight labor market makes it hard to hire skilled workers.

 
Labor markets have changed — 54% of employers say they can’t find people with the skills they need to fill open positions. The hardest employees to find? Skilled trade workers such as electricians, welders, and mechanics. Technicians, engineers, and drivers are also in high demand.
Field service organizations have an additional challenge in that much of the existing mobile workforce is inching closer to retirement — and younger generations lack the experience since they've been less interested in a career in service. Overcoming these obstacles isn’t easy, but it’s critical to success. Service organizations whose employees rated their customer service as excellent were more than twice as likely to have recently hired more mobile workers compared to organizations whose service professionals rated their customer service as average or below.

It’s risky to have disengaged mobile workers.

Two out of three U.S. workers are either not engaged or are actively disengaged, and the numbers tend to be even worse among service workers. This can be costly. According to Gallup, U.S. companies incur over $500 billion in costs due to low employee engagement. In addition, poor employee engagement causes unwanted turnover.
 
As a result, companies spend more money on training and onboarding for replacement employees. Inconsistency in the mobile workforce can also damage overall morale and productivity, and lead to decreased customer satisfaction.

Welcome millennials and Gen Zers.

As the job market changes, it’s increasingly important to hire new talent, who may not have the exact desired skill sets but have the potential to learn and grow.

To successfully recruit younger workers, it’s necessary to understand what drives them. Good compensation is the number one way to attract new workers, but younger applicants also appreciate jobs with perks.

Popular benefits for younger workers include:

  • Paid maternity and paternity leave
  • Student loan reimbursement
  • Child care reimbursement
  • Tuition reimbursement

To further engage younger workers, consider the following:

Offer development opportunities.

Younger workers are eager to learn and determined to advance in their careers. They seek out challenging work that can increase their skills. And they may want to pursue independent project work, attend conferences, take classes, and join professional organizations. Give them the resources to do so.

Enable work-life balance.

Just as young people are embarking on new careers, many are also embarking on new life adventures — buying homes, getting married, and having children. With so much going on in life outside of work, they — millennials especially — care deeply about flexibility and schedules that allow for free time.

Build schedules around availability.

Sync scheduling with employees’ availability to plan around time off. If a mobile worker needs to work from home, they can play a consultative role to coworkers in the field and assist them remotely if they are unable to resolve an issue.

Involve a great team.

Connecting with colleagues, from managers to dispatchers to fellow mobile workers, can satisfy the desire to be part of a team. This can go a long way toward retaining talent, who may stay with the company out of loyalty to their work relationships.

Give workers a sense of purpose.

One of the biggest challenges in engaging younger employees is their emotional need to fulfill a higher purpose. Help them understand the larger role that the company plays in customers’ lives to drive retention.

Grasp the benefits of mobile worker engagement

Enjoy the ripple effect of strong employee engagement.

 
Field service organizations with an engaged mobile workforce are more likely to have higher-than-average customer loyalty, profitability, and productivity. In fact, companies that are the best at engaging employees achieve 4x higher earnings per-share growth than their competitors.
Better engagement can:
 
Improve employee satisfaction.
Mobile workers seek praise for good job performance and want to be treated fairly. In turn, they’re happy to help customers. If their company refuses to listen to their case for a raise, they won’t deliver the best experience to customers that day.
 
Keep mobile workers motivated.
Recognize employees for their achievements and reward them for accomplishments. This will give them a better reason to work hard and invest in the overall success of the company. This motivation translates to productivity, which also means more customers are satisfied with their service.
 
Instill confidence.
An employee who gets discouraged might question their ability to manage high-pressure situations. By instilling confidence, mobile workers feel better prepared to handle more difficult situations.
 
Ensure exceptional customer service.
The customer experiences that stand out are the ones in which mobile workers are willing to share their knowledge and remain with the customer until they are satisfied. Engaged workers take pride in solving problems and ensure they always leave customers feeling happy and helped.

Boost customer satisfaction.

 

Eighty-four percent of customers say the experience a company provides is as important as its products and services, and 66% are willing to pay more for a great experience.

To be truly successful in field service, companies must invest in their mobile workforce. Seventy-one percent of service decision makers have already made significant mobile investments, both in improved technologies and increased headcount. Mobile workers are the face of brands because they have direct contact with customers. By improving their engagement with their work, companies ultimately:

Protect profits.

Engaged workers are more productive and have higher first-time fix rates because they care about their work. This satisfies customers and boosts revenue. In addition, companies avoid a higher turnover rate, which means less cost to onboard and train new employees.

Improve brand reputation.

When a customer has a great experience, they might share that fact on social media, which enhances a company’s reputation and drives future business. Or they may recommend the company to others through word-of-mouth.

Increase employee morale.

Bad energy spreads rapidly, but so does positivity. When mobile workers are openly and visibly happy, it will affect the attitudes of other employees.

Measure engagement to ensure progress

There are many ways to measure employee engagement on an ongoing basis. Communicate results and set an action plan to address employee feedback. To do this, consider the following methods for collecting valuable feedback.

Conduct surveys.

Many organizations distribute an annual employee engagement survey, but that’s not frequent enough. Pulse surveys are short, frequent questionnaires distributed on a regular basis — either monthly or quarterly.

Start by sending out an initial survey with a mix of qualitative, quantitative, and scaled questions with free response prompts to gather benchmark data. Ensure that all feedback is anonymous and be transparent about the results.

Include agree/disagree statements, such as:

  • I see myself working at this company two years from now.
  • The leaders at this company keep people informed about what’s happening.
  • I have access to the learning and development I need to do my job well.

Measure employee NPS.

Service providers are familiar with the Net Promoter Score (NPS), the 1–10 scale that measures customer loyalty. The same scale can be used to measure employee loyalty. Ask questions like “How likely are you to recommend working at [your company] to a friend?” Follow up with an open-ended question like “What’s the reason for your score?” to get valuable insights on how to improve.

Hold one-on-one meetings.

A more informal and potentially more valuable way of measuring employee engagement is through regularly scheduled one-on-one meetings. These private meetings are a great way to get a sense of what employees think and how they feel about their job.

Create an environment in which employees feel safe sharing details regarding issues or concerns they have. Talk about career development and professional growth, too. Since meeting in person is challenging due to the current environment, hold mobile video conferences.

Host “stay” interviews.

Most service organizations know (and practice) exit interviews to collect feedback from employees before they leave. While these can be effective, the downside is that they are too late to fix the problem. A stay interview allows for an open discussion with current workers on why they continue to work for the organization. This signals what’s going well and reveals ways to improve and retain mobile workers.

Guide a one-on-one conversation with specific questions:

  • What’s on your mind this week? Any challenges?
  • How confident do you feel with where the company’s going?
  • What has gone well — or not so well — with you [over a period of time]?
  • What are some skills you’d like to learn on the job?
  • What’s one thing you would change with your role?
  • How’s your relationship with your manager?
  • What makes a great day of work for you?

Leverage technology to improve engagement

Brighten mobile workers’ days.

Front-line employees tend to have lower overall engagement than those in management and leadership positions. This is because they often feel disconnected out in the field. By providing online and offline mobile capabilities to mobile workers, service providers address these daily challenges

Automate paperwork and administrative tasks.

Mobile workers would rather stay focused on what they do best: solving customer problems. Unfortunately, record-keeping is also part of the job. Make it easier for them by digitizing records that are easy to update onsite with a mobile device.

Minimize time spent looking for information.

Mobile workers have multiple jobs to get through each day. Keep all relevant information, including technical manuals, training videos, and customer information, accessible on the worker’s mobile device through their field service app. The app can also provide useful information like on-the-go directions with route optimization.

Connect with colleagues.

It’s easy for mobile workers to feel isolated from the rest of the team. Most of the day, they’re on their own, traveling to customer sites. Sometimes they need backup but there’s no one around to help. Mobile devices provide easy access to — and communication with — the home base. Live video support, augmented reality, and wearables provide a way for mobile workers to connect remotely with an expert.

Recognize mobile workers’ accomplishments.

Workplace recognition motivates employees and gives them a sense of accomplishment. It can also increase productivity, loyalty to the company, and retention rates. Not to mention, it’s a very easy — and inexpensive — way of improving engagement.

 
Public recognition:
Give mobile worker awards or certificates for their achievements or praise them in front of the team.
 
Mentoring:
Create a program where experienced employees help those who are still building their careers.
 
Private recognition:
Take mobile workers aside and personally praise their achievements.
 
Customer evaluations:
Give customers an opportunity to review mobile workers and share positive feedback.
 
Promotion:
Reward mobile workers by allowing them to grow within the organization.

Attract and retain the best talent

Not only does improved employee engagement boost profitability, productivity, and customer satisfaction, it can also help attract and retain new talent. (Everyone reads the Glassdoor reviews before joining a company.) Nurture growth and provide the lifestyles field service workers desire, both on and off the job. One simple way to get started is to provide them with a connected device that makes every workday better.

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