January 26, 2022

field agents do not feel sufficiently connected to their company (study)

They are called “frontline workers” or “frontline workers”. They are intervention technicians, installers, delivery people, home nurses, salespeople in stores, flight attendants or stewards, storekeepers, farmers, mechanics, inspectors, or even security agents or repairers. Their professions are very different. Some are in contact with customers, others are not. But they all have in common that they are on the move, “in the field” (hence the concept of Field Service in English), far from offices and administrative premises. Hence the need for them to create a specific link with their business.

However, a Microsoft study on this category of employees (“2 billion people in the world” according to the editor) shows that on the contrary they feel apart – insufficiently connected – in all senses of the word (HR, communication and IT).

Microsoft surveyed 9,600 people in 8 countries (but not France) and in 8 sectors of activity (Automotive, Energy, Finance, Health, Industry, Media, Telecommunications, Retail and Hotel-Catering).

The corporate culture often forgets the field agents

First lesson: many field agents do not feel included in the culture of their organization. “Most field workers believe that corporate culture is not a priority for their management,” says Jared Spataro, Corporate Vice President for Modern Work at Microsoft.

Frontline employees – Source: NetworkRail

“76% of them say they ‘feel very connected to their colleagues’ due to the common stress caused by the pandemic. But their links with the management and the culture of the company are insufficient, ”summarizes the study. “62% of all frontline workers say their company is not about creating a corporate culture [qui les incluent eux], and this percentage rises to 68% in management positions in the field (such as department heads, store managers or workshop supervisors) ”.

This state of affairs comes from a communication problem, analyzes Jared Spataro. “63% of these employees say that messages from management do not reach them, and a third of them believe that their voice is not heard when they report workplace issues,” says the manager. Microsoft.

Microsoft obviously invites organizations to resolve this communication gap by equipping themselves with tools such as its Teams, Viva Connections – some of which can even be integrated into PoS and specific rugged terminals.

More and more Field Service Management tools

The world’s number 1 publisher – which also offers operational Field Service Management tools (comme Dynamics Remote Assist) – is not the only one to look closely at this problem.

This market segment is growing. It is of particular interest to ERP history (in the first place Oracle Where the IFS specialist), most also the champion of CRM, Salesforce.

To add to the competition, more local alternatives are being formed, like Nomadia in France. And videoconferencing players see it as a promising growth driver (such as WebEx with holograms and augmented reality).

Frontline workers in demand of adapted IT tools

Still, according to the Microsoft survey, a third of frontline workers believe they are still poorly equipped.

“For decades, technology has been seen as a threat, [mais aujourd’hui] 63% of frontline workers believe technology is an opportunity. ”

Jared spataroCorporate Vice President for Modern Work chez Microsoft

Another sign of this imperfect tooling: 58% of Field Service agents think that the stress of their work will remain the same or will worsen in 2022. And to improve their condition, they call for, in order, a better salary, more paid vacation, and more efficient IT tools (“in third place, ahead of social benefits”, underlines Microsoft).

“For decades, technology has been seen as a threat [par ces employés], rather than as a boon. From automation to AI, many field agents feared that these tools would replace their jobs, ”summarizes Jared Spataro. But things would change. “This idea that technology can support or enhance human ingenuity is starting to gain ground. 63% of frontline workers are convinced that technology creates new opportunities. “.

A weak point: support and training in tools

Another weak point is raised by this study. Well-equipping field agents is not enough. Many organizations would still struggle to realize the importance of properly supporting users of new tools.

55% of frontline workers say they have had to train themselves in new technologies without having received dedicated training. An additional stressor when we know that “46% [de ces employés] fear losing their job if they do not adapt to new technologies ”.