Google co-founder Larry Page believes it is important that a company be a family—that employees genuinely feel like they are part of the organization and that they know executives care about them. It might explain why Google has taken the top spot in Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For list six times. Page has worked hard to create a culture that endears him to employees, as evidenced last year when he was named best CEO of a large company in a Glassdoor survey.
Page is like many employers who understand a company’s most important customers are its employees. As much as a business has an obligation to provide goods and services to clients, it should be committed first to fulfilling promises to its staff. This is even more critical for those with a field service workforce that relies on skilled labor. While customers are the lifeline for any business, a stable, dependable team is especially important to meet customer expectations throughout the service chain.
The conviction that Page shares is more imperative today than ever before. The Fourth Industrial Revolution is upon us. Its scale, scope and complexity are expected to be unlike anything humankind has previously experienced. In the near future we’ll see mobile devices with unprecedented processing power, storage capacity and access to knowledge. We’ll witness major advances in artificial intelligence, robotics, the Internet of Things, 3D printing, nanotechnology, quantum computing and other emerging technologies.
It’s all very impressive and exciting. It’s also very scary for those who see the exponential pace it is evolving. The disruptive technology of this revolution is already impacting systems and processes in every industry. However, its greatest impact may well be on the labor force.
That has world and business leaders concerned. At the World Economic Forum in January, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden warned that the fourth revolution could destroy the middle class, the consequences of such technologies displacing millions of workers. “So my call to action here is simple: embrace the obligation to your workers as well as your shareholders,” Biden said. “It’s good for workers; it’s good for your business; it’s good for your productivity; and it’s good for society.”
Stabilizing the Labor Force
There are ways to prepare your field service workforce for the oncoming revolution. Two ways an employer can help ensure the stability and at the same time show employees they are of value to the company include providing education and ensuring core protections.
Education and Job Training. Because technology is moving far beyond the ability to keep up with the basic education employees have, workers should be retooled and retrained for their jobs annually. This is of particular importance in fields like IT, advanced manufacturing, healthcare and energy, where some of the emerging technologies are making the biggest impacts. Providing affordable education and training is not only the obligation of governments, but also the responsibility of employers. Business leaders can invest in their workers by making upskilling part of their business models.
Basic Protection for Workers. Companies have an obligation to strengthen core protections—wages, payment of overtime and child care—by investing in their people. Over the last few decades, changes in corporate culture has led to 91 percent of profits going to the owners and shareholders, leaving only 9 percent for research, development, cash reserves, raises and employee training. This has added to the problem of stagnant wages and reduced productivity. Shifting more of those profits to employees will benefit all in the end by helping to improve employee confidence in their employers and reduce employee churn.
Showing Value Now
Of course, while employers must rethink their business models in light of the changes to come, continuing to show employees that they are valued now will help ease any fears they may have about what is to come next. It is the no-cost, simple actions that can make a difference in your relationship with employees.
Be real and transparent. Keep your employees in the loop as to any upcoming changes or challenges facing your organization. Allow them to contribute ideas and be a part of any solution. Employee morale reaches its lowest point when secrecy and distrust reign.
Offer encouragement. The most cost-effective way to inspire loyalty and increase productivity is to acknowledge performances and offer encouragement. Employees are human, not machines. A kind word here and there can mean more than you know.
Make time for employees. Be sure to make time for your employees, whether it involves a work-related or personal issue. By taking an interest in their personal lives and showing you care, you help to create a trusted environment that will enable to feel they are a valued in the company.
People and Values
Change has always brought with it new both challenges and perils, and the Forth industrial Revolution is certainly bringing with it changes that will impact everyone. In previous eras of technological change, past generations have been able to bend the shifts brought on by new technology to the benefit of all of society. That might be more difficult with this revolution due to the speed of its growth. Refocusing on corporate culture and core obligations now will show your workers you value them and are committed to them.
“In the end, it all comes down to people and values,” said Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum. “We need to shape a future that works for all of us by putting people first and empowering them.
Learn more about how field service management through FieldAware helps companies to improve customer relationships.