Customer Service and the impact of Millennials, part 2

“…The Millennial Generation will entirely recast the image of youth from downbeat and alienated to upbeat and engaged—with potentially seismic consequences for America.” — Neil Howe and William Strauss from “Millennials Rising.”

This is the second article in the series where I was asked to take part in a discussion on the impact of the Millennials on the service industry by the Field Service Magazine []. As part of the interview series, I was asked a number of questions and asked to provide answers. They are as follows:-

Across many industries we are hearing about the threat of an ageing workforce, but how much of this hyperbole or are we really facing a potential crisis here?
You’re right that we do have an aging workforce. In today’s climate it is inevitable. With a lack of expansion in the job market over the last five years and experienced people being made redundant, there is an imbalance between available jobs and experienced individuals. A person with 20 years’ experience is lot likely to be hired than a person fresh out of university with no experience as they don’t require such a large overhead in training. However, a person with a long history of work, will also more likely to be set in their ways nd be more expensive. So there needs to be a balance between young and old.

There was a Time Magazine front cover not that long ago that describe the millennials as the Me, Me, Me generation. [ ]. They have this unfortunate stereotype of being a needy bunch who expect promotion every two years just for turning up to work. From your experience, is that stereotype fair?
In part yes, though I don’t believe it is just restricted to the Millenials. I believe that it is common now to think you are entitled to more than you have – it is far more prevalent across age groups. The recent talk I attended by Matthieu Ricard highlighted that selflessness to be the current growing trend across generations.

So what are the key qualities of the millennial and most importantly are they a good fit for field service? The point above highlights the drive and ambition that millennials bring to a role. They are also native to modern technology which again is an advantage for field service work. They are adaptable, open to change, are flexible in their approach

So how do we go out and get them? What kind of programs are you running to attract millennials? Have you had to reconsider how you approach recruitment, for example using social media more and traditional routes like the local paperless? The millennial generation are now longer interested in the old style of recruitment. They need glossy websites, videos and campaigns through social media. This after all is the generation that grew up on the internet. They want to feel connected to and engaged with, not just a feature on a job advert.

When do you think companies should be looking to engage with the future workforce? University? High School? As early as possible. We are actively looking to sponsor programmes at school to help students get into the work environment early.

Of course this is a generation that is native with today’s technology. Two questions here – as the millennial workforce grows do you think we will see field service operations and the technology that empowers those operations ever more integrated? There will be a change. This is the generation that no longer calls or texts. They use instant messaging services and video calls through their smartphones/ tablets/ laptops. Field operational technology will no doubt shift from the traditional means. One company that is trying to stay ahead of the game is Amazons with its new video chat help system for the kindle.

And secondly do you think having up to date technology will play its own part in attracting millennial to an organisation? Technology might draw them in, getting their attention, but it’s not what will win them over. The company itself, the role, colleagues will still play a large part.

Perhaps one of the biggest difference between baby-boomers and millennials is the notion of ownership of knowledge. What is your take on this? It’s kind of been ingrained in us for many years that knowledge is power and there is a lot of kudos and potential gain in being the engineer that has the deepest knowledge. However, for millennials knowledge is not something to be hoarded away but something to be shared. This is the generation that grew up with Wikipedia just being there, remember. This is the generation that has no walls when it comes to information. Every part of some people’s lives is shared with thousands through social media daily.

Now surely for field service this is a good thing but there are two challenges that I see. Namely how do we stop the knowledge stored in our ageing engineers leaving when they do. And secondly how do we facilitate a culture of open sharing amongst our new workforce? There will always be a sense of withholding information. People need to be seen as important and master of their trade. However, this might be a result of job instability and the constant threat of redundancy. Perhaps this will change in the future. In the meantime mentoring and buddying is the only effective solution to sharing information especially with a remote workforce.

I leave you with this quote….

“Although they are better educated, more techno-savvy, and quicker to adapt than those who have come before them, they refuse to blindly conform to traditional standards and time-honored institutions. Instead, they boldly ask, ‘Why?’” — Eric Chester from “Employing Generation Why?”

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