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Delivering the best service from today’s blended workforce

Ensuring today’s multigenerational, gig economy presents an opportunity not a threat.

Workforces have undoubtedly changed over time: in recent years, the generational divide has become increasingly prominent. From Baby Boomers to Gen Z—also known as iGen or Centennials—several generations are now mixed in the workplace, each having their own skills and strengths, as well as stereotypes. For example, employees of the older generation are typically deemed more loyal, and the younger generations increasingly concerned with workplace wellbeing.

The question among employers is how to manage and optimise the strengths of each generation to best suit the business as well as motivate the individual to best represent the brand. Add to this the advent of the Gig Economy, where by 2020 34% of field service will be delivered by contractors, employers have their work cut out in ensuring they deliver a consistent service quality and customer experience.

When it comes to the field service industry, one of the biggest concerns for business leaders is closing the skills gap and the sharing of knowledge between older and younger generations. Technology has a huge role to play in addressing this challenge, shaping and supporting the blended, multi-generational workforce. Unlike their older colleagues, Millennials and Gen Z cannot imagine a world without the internet and are motivated by technology.

Considering the ever-evolving, blended nature of the workforce, what can business leaders do to optimise their service delivery, regardless of age or generation, employee or contractor status?

1/ Manage the skills mix

Combining mixed skill sets of several generations into a single team should be the prime objective. The older generation has years of skilled labour and knowledge, whereas younger generations have had less exposure to vocational courses and less time in the field. By mixing generations together, the employees can pass on and teach each other skills and strengths. Establishing an infrastructure that supports knowledge transfer from older to younger and full-time to part-time through management and technology should be high on the agenda of service organisations.

2/ Engage your employees

Typically, younger generations are more tech-savvy than older generations, and employees need to use this to their advantage. Employers are having to adopt and integrate an increasing amount of technology to retain their younger workers. Business leaders should continue to invest in new technology to entice the new generations entering the workforce, while also supporting the older generation and ensuring that they are receiving the right training for new technology. By doing this, business leaders can ensure that Millennials and Gen Z are utilising their strengths, and are motivated by their environment, while older generations aren’t left behind. And more importantly, an engaged workforce is more likely to represent the brand in a positive light.

3/ Enable teams through technology

Building on from point 2, as older generations move away from physical onsite work, introducing technology into the workplace can allow employees to work together and better share knowledge. Using technology, including augmented reality and wearables, older employees can share their experience without being onsite, while younger generations can learn quickly on the job—gaining experience as they work.

4/ Focus on the flexible workforce

According to The Service Council: 76% of service organizations have used third parties for service delivery. With on-demand apps like Fiverr, Uber, Postmates and TaskRabbit paving the way, new definitions as well as regulations for the remote, freelance worker or contractor are critical for compliance as well as creating a consistent level of customer service, regardless of resource type.

5/ Create a service marketplace

The concept of service crowdsourcing, creating a network or service marketplace to ensure service elasticity, where the workforce can grow when demand spikes is a tremendous advantage for business. However, the challenge will be to manage and optimise this virtual network with only a positive impact on service quality and customer experience. Tools that enable visibility and resource location optimisation in this type of disparate workforce will be essential.

The new blended workforce brings sizable benefits to business through its flexible, agile model, but also represents a very different management and service challenge over the traditional resource infrastructure. The imperative will be to ensure service and brand consistency no matter how the workforce evolves, delivered by a mix of visionary thinking, training, and technology. In summary, a new mind set as well as a new toolset is the imperative for businesses to bring out the best from the blended workforce, to win in customer service.

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