One of the biggest problems facing industry today is one of recruitment and retention. Across numerous manufacturing and sales operations, older technicians are retiring, and companies are struggling to find sufficient replacements for them. Worse, because younger workers are accustomed to job-hopping, retaining those techs can be a major challenge.
To address this, we recently held an Industry Expert Panel Discussion on Service Tech Recruiting, Training and Support Best Practices, which is still available for free replay here. This hour-long roundtable featured a panel of expert speakers from Universal Technical Institute (UTI), Carolina Tractor & Equipment (CTE), Daimler Trucks NA, Altec Service Group, and Meritor - all sharing their insights into technical recruitment, training, and retention. It was an informative, productive hour and we strongly encourage everyone to view the recording.
To give you a taste of what's in the webinar, let's look at the presentation given by Jody Adams, Manager of Service Training Operations at Daimler Trucks NA. As a truck company, technical and mechanical support is a major facet of their business, and he had some amazing insights into how to improve technician retention.
Increasing Technician Morale And Retention The Daimler Way
1. Give your technicians a career path
One of the most interesting insights from Jody was on the matter of what technicians are looking for. Many companies focus on wages or benefits - which are certainly important - but according to Jody, there's one thing the technicians at Daimler want more than anything else: a career path.
In his view, techs job-hop as a way of advancing their careers when they don't feel like they have a clear-cut career path at their current job. So, he makes sure that Daimler's technical staff have well-defined road maps showing career progression, while giving techs plenty of opportunities to improve themselves and advance in the field.
2. Rewards programs work
Rewards programs aren't only for customers! According to Jody, Daimler maintains a points-based rewards system aimed specifically at technicians, awarding points based on training classes taken and their success at those classes. The rewards offered range from specialty job tools that can improve their performance, to fun items for the home.
To add to his insights, we'd also note that "gameifying" training in this way creates engagement, and can also create a 'sunk cost' situation where techs don't want to give up their points.
3. Make techs part of the decision-making process
Another unusual process Daimler deploys is bringing their high-level technicians in to be part of business meetings, when issues affecting technical support are being discussed. On one hand, this allows the techs to contribute genuinely useful "ground level" information, improving the decision-making process. On the other hand, this builds enfranchisement and a sense of investment in the company, as well as telling those techs that their insights truly matter. This is excellent for morale-building.
4. Be aware of generation gaps causing management issues
One warning Jody presented had to do with age gaps between older managers and the younger, tech-savvy techs being hired. This can cause friction, since the generation gap between the "digital generations" (Millennials and Zoomers), and their predecessors, can be fairly significant.
Managers should have some training or awareness of how younger workers prefer to work, and at least be able to work with them. Obviously, some give-and-take is needed on both sides, but if management has an understanding of younger workers' mindsets, it becomes much easier to bridge that generational gap.
Again, this is just the tip of the iceberg. The entire webinar was full of useful information, and we've only touched on one expert's insights here. If you're having difficulty recruiting and hanging onto techs, click here to see the full free webinar!
Top image from Daimler Trucks North America