Improving Employee Engagement Among Field Service Teams

An engaged employee isn’t the same as a happy employee. Believe it or not, there is a difference. Companies can’t possibly have control over an individual’s happiness level. But being engaged at work is quite different.

Let’s start with some basic definitions. A quick Google search unveils keywords such as “the right conditions” or  “to give their best each day”… “committed to organizational goals and values” and words like “motivated to contribute”… or having an “enhanced sense of well-being” come up. I think we’ve all read reports that tell us employee engagement is directly correlated to productivity levels, which in turn translates to satisfied customers. According to Gallup, only 32% of employees claim to be engaged in the US which is pretty sad if you think about it.

Engagement requires more than the basics.

Obvious ways to improve engagement levels include better onboarding and training, providing regular company updates and a forum for feedback on a consistent basis. But what about employees that spend an entire day away from a corporate desk or those who are in front of customers? Arguably one of the toughest jobs in the business. How do you keep these lone-wolves (aka “road-warriors”) engaged?

Clearly, they need more than just a mobile device and a way to move from one customer to the next. Arming such employees with the right technology can make the difference. How can organizations do better at providing direct access to the relevant people and information when on the job? How does a company provide full support when teams are under tremendous pressure to complete jobs quickly and at the highest quality?

How to improve employee engagement for field service teams.

Let’s go through some of those key points outlined in our definition.

1. Creating teams that “give their best each day”

In a recent survey conducted by The Service Council, one question posed was: “What’s the worst part of your day” which yielded a 44% response claiming “paperwork and admin tasks” and a third stating “pressure to work faster and be more productive”.

Most businesses want more for less but that often backfires. The trick is to make the so-called paperwork (albeit digital) second-nature and remove burden or friction that comes with those tasks. Most technicians prefer to actually do the work rather than spend hours updating systems or digging around to find the right information required at that specific moment.

At Zinc, we are intensely focused on streamlining how technicians get work done so they can clock off at a normal hour or in the words of our partner ServiceMax, “get your Friday back”.

Our recent integration with ServiceMax from GE Digital moves the needle on productivity levels but also makes the admin part of the job much more streamlined. With just a few clicks a technician now gets immediate answers from relevant team members because the app-to-app integration gives context to what is being sought out at that point in time. Depending on the use-case, it could be a conversation with the technician who worked on that install previously or the exact team member who knows all about that particular model.

2. Ensuring employees are “committed to organizational value and goals”

The first step in cultivating commitment is to make sure teams have a true understanding of organizational values and goals. A common complaint from teams who work away from an office is that they feel disconnected. You further exacerbate this when employees operate on different platforms and systems making information silo-ed and fragmented. If one team is using WhatsApp and another team uses Facetime – not only is it risky from a security and compliance standpoint – it’s extremely ineffective and corrodes the sought-after efficiency level.

If corporate support teams use the same communication platform, they can quickly keep field teams up-to-date as changes in the organization happen. This is done through a one-to-many Broadcast that pops up on the employee’s mobile device, where you can immediately see who has opened, clicked or read it. Arming the team with the best mobile application to better communicate with corporate counterparts so they are fully supported should be the #1 goal.

3. Inspiring employees to be “motivated to contribute”

This may sound a bit softer and more elusive for field service management. Creating a culture of connectivity can be difficult without physical facetime but is absolutely possible using a mobile communication app. Field service technicians are problem solvers and generally want to help fellow team members when issues come up while on the job.

By using established groups in a communication platform, you essentially communicate with those that are relevant at that point in time. Email is useless when you need an instant answer from the right individual who has the right knowledge. Sitting on hold for 15 minutes is not only frustrating but completely avoidable when you can get an answer in seconds by messaging on a secure communication platform. Field teams will contribute to the greater whole when they are armed with a solution built for their own purpose.

I don’t think anyone would argue the importance of supporting field teams who are out in front of customers. Reading between the lines and listening to employees’ specific needs is what will make the difference. I urge you to start listening so you fully understand team engagement levels.

In fact, having a visual analytics chart that shows you communication patterns across your teams will uncover tremendous insights that will help you improve over-time as well as roll-out best practice protocols for how everyone on the team can communicate in unison and stay fully engaged.