A recent survey has revealed that 88% of field engineers see no opportunity to progress in their careers.
This less than favourable statistic comes from specialist field engineering recruitment consultancy, Concept Resourcing’s latest Field Engineering Salary and Engagement Survey where they delved into average salaries across the industry as well as fluctuations and expectations in pay, employee happiness and ranked the most desirable perks and benefits.
Engineer’s reports of a lack of career progression were backed up by the fact that 81% of Concept’s respondents reported having more than 10 years’ experience in the industry, and yet 75% of them were still in the same role. Not only does this pose a problem for those who are feeling stagnant in their career, but it does very little to help draw the next generation of engineers into the sector, with progression seemingly curbed.
Between an ongoing battle with the STEM skills shortage and burgeoning concerns over an ageing workforce, some would say the field engineering industry has its work cut out when it comes to attracting new talent. When we look at how the sector has changed in recent years, from advancements in innovation – such as automation and augmented reality, to a natural increase in customer demand for instant resource in the digital age – it comes as no surprise that the sector is crying out for new talent.
Aside from attracting individuals into the industry, retention of existing skilled employees is equally as crucial. Particularly to facilitate knowledge transfer to new starters to ease the pressure on the ageing workforce. With that in mind, it comes as something of a surprise that the survey revealed that 44% of field engineering professionals are feeling undervalued at work.
Retaining your field service engineers
It’s easy to assume that field service organisations would be desperate to retain their existing workforce and would be bending over backwards for them as a result. This may well be the case, but if employers are concentrating their efforts in the wrong places – their engineers simply won’t reap the benefits.
Of course, salary is always going to be a big factor to employee happiness, but with a whopping 79% of field engineers stating that they were dissatisfied with their salaries, the industry may well have a problem on its hands.
Just 9% of those who requested a pay rise were successful, and of those, 62% were still dissatisfied with their salaries, an indication that perhaps the salary increases weren’t significant enough.
A potential reason for this could be the commoditisation of traditional field engineering sectors and the skillsets of engineers becoming increasingly focused on replacement over repair, meaning salaries have been driven down.
It seems as though the sector as a whole is missing the mark when it comes to giving their workforce what it wants, not through lack of trying – but simply through not knowing what they truly value where non-financial benefits and rewards are concerned.
Thankfully for employers, it’s not all about money. Feeling valued at work can overshadow a less than desirable salary. However, it’s worth noting that it works both ways, 80% of those who said they didn’t feel valued at work were actively looking to leave the company within the next 2 years.
Making your workforce feel more valued
Whilst salary naturally came out as the most important factor when choosing a job, company culture-related factors such as job security, work-life balance and a good work environment all followed.
When asked which benefits made the most difference to their happiness at work, field engineers ranked having a generous annual leave package, access to a good pension plan, a company vehicle and fuel card as their top priorities.
We saw a direct link between employee happiness and training. While only 6% of respondents felt that they didn’t have the necessary skills for their role, the gesture of being supported with personal or professional development clearly had a positive impact. Of those who said they were ‘happy’ and ‘very happy’ at work, 94% had been on a training course in the last 12 months.
Dan Sholl, Concept Resourcing’s Business Development Director for the field engineering division had this to say, “The results of the salary survey have been really eye-opening, to say the least. It’s clear that the sector has some work to do when it comes to both employee retention and attracting new talent.”
“Not every organisation has the budget to be able to provide regular substantial pay increases, but there’s a lot that can be done to make field engineering employees feel valued and happy at work. In our experience as a field engineering specialist recruiter, we often advise our clients on the significant impact that things like regular training can have on engineers and their happiness. Evidently, it’s these additional benefits and perks that can make all the difference when it comes to bringing the next generation of field engineers into the sector.”
If you’re interested in learning about average salaries in field engineering, or if you’re working on your hiring strategy for the year and would like some extra insight, read the rest of Concept’s Field Engineering Salary and Engagement Survey here.
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