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In our first and second digital guides, we looked at how you can improve productivity and give your customers ‘moments of magic’ if you have high quality data, employ advanced operational analytics and commit to continuous improvement processes.
But whilst all of these things are necessary, they are not sufficient to ensure that you will consistently achieve excellent results.
Field service is not just about IT and processes, nor is it just about parts and engineering. It is about people. That’s why we have devoted this, the third and final of our digital guides, to employee engagement – we believe that flawless field service depends on it.
So what do we mean by employee engagement? If you Google it, you’ll get any number of definitions, but we like this one from not-for-profit organisation Engage for Success:
"Employee engagement is a workplace approach resulting in the right conditions for all members of an organisation to give their best each day, commit to their organisation's goals and values and contribute to the organisational success, with an enhanced sense of their own well-being."
It’s also important to say what employee engagement isn’t. It isn’t manipulative. It’s not a cynical attempt to wring productivity from employees with spurious benefits. It isn’t an annual employee engagement survey – although it can be measured - and it should only be measured if doing so leads to positive change.
This means that employee engagement must be win-win for employees and their employers. It can’t be imposed from above. It's about creating a cultural shift in the way organisations behave.
In the UK, only around a third of employees are ‘engaged’. Engaged employees tend to be happy in their jobs, enthusiastic about their work, committed and driven. This matters, not only for the wellbeing of the remaining two thirds of UK workers, but also because study after study has linked employee engagement to improved productivity, customer satisfaction, growth and profitability, as well as a whole raft of other business metrics, including employee retention; innovation; safety incidents; product quality and defects; shrinkage and theft; and sickness and absenteeism.
And whilst engaged employees can bring business benefits, the reverse is also true. A US study found that there are 51% of US workers who are not engaged, and a further 16% who can be defined as ‘actively disengaged’; whilst workers who are ‘not engaged’ tend to be indifferent – they are just showing up for their pay-check - those that are actively disengaged can be resentful and disruptive, taking up managers’ time, seeking out ways to ‘cheat the system’ and even sabotaging the work done by others.
You will have detailed performance data which you can use to understand how best to manage, motivate, incentivise and develop your people so that they feel engaged.
Cognito iQ Mobile is a cloud-based mobile workflow solution, that connects workers in the field, such as engineers and technicians, or drivers and couriers, with the back office, in real-time. Cognito iQ Mobile guides field workers through each shift, helping ensure that the basics – SLA compliance, first-time-fix, on-time-in-full delivery - are right first time. The mobile application gives workers access to information and updates and gives back office managers unrivalled visibility of the mobile workforce, enabling them to anticipate issues before they arise, and proactively fix any problems that do occur.
Cognito iQ Mobile is our starting point for connecting with and engaging field workers, but we are seeing the most exciting results from adopters of our flagship product, Cognito iQ Operational Performance Analytics (OPA). Cognito iQ OPA takes real-time mobile workforce data from Cognito iQ Mobile or other mobile workforce solutions, and presents it in a series of clear, easy to understand dashboards. This enables you to drill down into granular detail for a thorough understanding of both the operational and individual employee performance. Imagine being able to analyse every activity using Cognito iQ OPA, you’ll have the data and analytics you need to support your employee engagement strategy.
Many companies use Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to manage and monitor their staff, but if they don’t reflect the reality of the field service operation, they may not be achievable which can be demotivating. Even worse, they can have unintended consequences or encourage employees to work around the rules. For example, if workers are judged on number of visits per shift, they are less likely to take the time needed to fix more complex jobs, which would reduce first-time-fix rates, and leave customers dissatisfied. Alternatively, if productive time is the key metric, they may feel they have to skip breaks, or log breaks as work time.
In contrast, Cognito iQ OPA uses a balanced scorecard approach, where you can build your own fully customisable KPIs in six key performance areas (KPAs). These can be aggregated to give an overall performance score for an individual worker’s completed shift. Each KPA score is derived from a weighted calculation that aggregates a range of measures: attainment against KPIs, geolocation information and actual shift timings. The Worker Scorecard also shows an interactive map and shift timeline, which visualises the time and location of each activity. This communicates clearly what happened, where and when, and leaves little room for misinterpretation.
The balanced score objectively measures and assesses performance and enables you to review individual employees’ work over time, looking for strengths and weaknesses, to identify training needs as well as candidates for reward and promotion. Employees may feel threatened by this level of scrutiny but you can avoid this by making the Worker Scorecard part of a drive to enable each worker to reach their potential. You can then adjust these metrics as required, depending on actual performance in the field, and taking on board feedback from employees to help you analyse and interpret the results. This also helps employees to feel that the analysis works to their benefit rather than being a tool for management to keep tabs on them.
Time spent on activities that directly deliver service to customers. Each job to be done is defined as a ‘Task’; the Productivity KPA measures time spent on Tasks and travelling to Tasks, within the actual shift working time.
The proportion of the planned duration of a shift that is productive (this can include productive travel time).
The average time over the shift spent travelling to Tasks and working on Tasks, compared to the expected average time. Also, the number of Tasks completed per shift hour (known as the Velocity).
Measures the worker on their ‘first time fix’ rate, service level attainment and net promoter score to show how well the intended result has been achieved.
Measures how well the worker’s behaviour has complied with the plan. In particular: How soon after they started a shift, did they actually start a Task? How long after the last Task completed, did they end the shift? Was the shift duration as expected?
Compares the time spent on activities directly related to each Task, including the Task itself, establishing how consistently positive behaviours continue over time.
The League Table ranks the workforce based on the performance score achieved. You can look at scores for the entire workforce, or isolate and compare particular regions or teams. The heat-map makes it easy to identify the best workers across all dimensions of performance.
You probably have an instinct for which of your field workers are the best performers; the League Table gives you hard evidence, and you have the data to evaluate why they are the best so that you can use their behaviour as a model for others. You probably also know which workers consistently fail to hit their targets; again the League Table identifies them objectively, and performance analysis will show you what to do to help each of them improve, and to monitor their progress. Again, this must be sensitively used, as a carrot, not a stick; if this is done, the League Table can be the basis for a management culture that is dedicated to excellence, and engenders healthy competition between teams.
The company, which manufactures and services multi-function peripherals (MFPs) has over 900 employees and a turnover of over £180 million. Installations, service and maintenance are carried out by more than 250 field based engineers in UK. In 2012, the service operation was facing a number of issues.
Konica Minolta set out a strategic objective to transform the service operation, with the following aims:
Cognito iQ OPA data is made available to engineers as part of their innovative ‘PathFinder’ employee development programme, which gives engineers control over their career progression and earnings. To advance through PathFinder career levels, engineers have to pass exams at each stage & achieve defined performance scores which are measured directly from Cognito iQ OPA. Requirements at each level and the associated earnings are transparent to engineers. This has driven a culture of employee engagement, improved productivity, halved attrition, reduced recruitment costs and delivered industry leading customer satisfaction scores.
Within 18 months Konica Minolta has seen the following results:
Quite simply we develop the most advanced mobile workforce solutions and operational performance analytics in the world.
That’s the reason why the biggest names in Field Service, Facilities Management, Courier and Retail Logistics and Utilities rely on the Cognito iQ platform to run their mobile workforce operations.
Let's see if we can make it happen. Get in touch.