2024: The Year We Revolutionize Employee Experience
From law enforcement and utility workers to heavy machinery operators and vehicle technicians, leaders have had to manage and overcome staffing issues over the course of 2023. 87% of police officers work in departments that are not fully staffed. Meanwhile, the utilities sector will confront a rising retiree pool over the next few years. The water industry, for instance, saw a large number of its workers enter the field in the 1970s, which means one-third of those workers are set to retire in the next decade.
Despite this limited worker pool, there’s no shortage of work. While these industries double down on recruitment, they’ll also need to focus on retention efforts by providing a positive experience for existing employees. A critical part of that is supporting workers with the right technologies to do their jobs more efficiently. Implementing mobile technologies — such as a rugged laptop, tablet, or 2-in-1 device — that they can take with them throughout their day is a great place to start. It helps workers achieve efficiency and productivity, while eliminating downtime or the need to double up on work.
2024 will be the year of prioritizing the employee experience for essential workers through investments in technology. But it’s not just about choosing the right laptop or tablet. Organizations will also need to embrace technology partnerships that incorporate hardware, software, and support services to future-proof this investment for years to come. Let’s explore what this means for some industries confronting staffing challenges.
Law Enforcement: Giving Officers the Tools to Respond Efficiently
48% of law enforcement professionals cite staffing challenges as their “top issue of concern.” The same study found that agencies facing higher crime rates and those in mid-size jurisdictions are investing more in technology to help officers boost their productivity. This way, agencies can continue delivering the same level of community response and help officers work more effectively.
It’s rare for agencies to specify unique equipment in their technology budgets, but many are doing exactly that and they’re prioritizing mobile data terminals. That’s because mobile solutions help streamline tasks and allow officers to spend more time supporting their communities. Consider reporting: 89% of law enforcement professionals say creating incident reports limits the time they can spend in the community. Rugged devices equipped with speech-to-text capabilities help streamline the reporting process tremendously and boost accuracy, giving officers more time to focus on other important tasks.
Mobile devices can help law enforcement boost productivity in a variety of other ways. By digitizing data and evidence capture, giving officers access to critical information at their fingertips, and facilitating faster communication, they support better situational awareness, collaboration, and more coordinated responses. Beyond that, mobile devices can pair with advanced technologies, such as drones and robots, to help officers leverage the benefits of those tools.
Though technology has great potential to streamline operations for officers, 33% of law enforcement professionals say keeping technology up to date is another top area of concern. That’s why more law enforcement agencies will start to seek out partnerships with technology companies that offer support services. In the case of rugged mobile devices, this could mean a purchase program that offers robust warranties, servicing options, and maintenance programs in addition to the flexibility to add accessories and software as technology needs change. Flexible payment plans also give agencies the option to purchase the latest devices within budgetary constraints.
Utilities: Supporting Field Workers Amid the Transition to Renewable Energy
In 2024, utilities will continue to work towards two primary goals — modernizing the grid and expanding renewable energy efforts — while facing a limited worker pool. Take the wind industry, for instance: it needs to meet the goal of deploying 30 GW of offshore wind by 2030, which will require a substantial increase in workers. Similarly, the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) predicts that annual solar generation will surpass annual hydropower generation for the first time in 2024. However, in order to achieve the federal goal of 100% carbon pollution-free electricity by 2035, the solar workforce will need to more than double in size.
In order to progress towards a more renewable future, utilities will need to support their limited worker pools with technology that drives efficiency. Renewable work often requires employees to travel to remote locations. With reliable connectivity, rugged mobile technology can give workers access to plans, CAD drawings, and geographic information systems wherever the job takes them. Similarly, workers can run apps on their mobile devices to interact with sensors connected to the solar panels and wind turbines to determine if there is an issue and which tools they’ll need before driving out to conduct the repair.
Heavy Machinery: Helping Technicians Service More Equipment in Less Time
The heavy equipment technician industry has a job opening rate three times higher than the national average. This means industries like agriculture and construction that rely on heavy machinery will continue to see a shortage of repair technicians and longer equipment downtime.
Further, as construction companies look to save money, they’re cutting costs by renting equipment as opposed to purchasing it. In fact, equipment rental revenue is expected to grow by more than $65 billion between 2023 and 2026. This means in 2024, equipment will likely face more wear and tear and require more maintenance as different organizations rent it. Rental companies will need to hire more technicians to maintain and service equipment. The demand for repair technicians will increase in the agricultural sector, too, as more farmers adopt autonomous machinery amid rising costs, labor challenges, and the push for more sustainable farming practices.
Rugged mobile devices give technicians the power to access equipment diagnostics in real time through software that connects to sensors housed in machinery. This minimizes the time it takes to troubleshoot problems, so technicians can focus on the repair. Plus, this software makes it easier to conduct predictive maintenance, so repair technicians can monitor equipment health before a problem worsens and results in a lengthy repair and extended downtime.
And to streamline upkeep of mobile devices and other technology their technicians are using, organizations can seek out technology partnerships that provide ‘any time’ and ‘as needed’ IT staffing solutions so in-house specialists can focus more on strategic activity as opposed to routine tasks.
Vehicle Diagnostics: Streamlining Vehicle Repairs Through a Data-Driven Approach
In 2024, we will continue to see limited availability of vehicle repair technicians. In fact, there is a significant gap between the number of automotive technicians needed in the workforce and the number currently employed. To make matters even more difficult, consumers and organizations are keeping vehicles longer than they used to, so the need for repairs will rise. Experts predict we’ll need 100,000 new technicians to join the workforce each year to keep up with this demand.
Equipping vehicle repair technicians with mobile technology will help power a data-driven approach to vehicle maintenance and potentially help current employees better keep up with demand. Using software on laptops that can connect with in-vehicle sensors gives technicians a real-time look into vehicle health. With this data, workers can uncover patterns in driving behavior like aggressive braking, which can increase fuel consumption and accelerate maintenance schedules. This helps prevent the need for larger, more time-consuming repairs and unplanned downtime. And technicians gain faster access to repair data so they can leverage the vehicle history to support future repairs.
Prioritizing the Employee Experience
We’ll likely see tech investments expand in 2024 to optimize operations, give current employees a better work experience, and improve retention. Supporting workers with rugged mobile technology has the potential to transform productivity so they can accomplish tasks more efficiently. And forming partnerships with tech companies will help streamline the device deployment, maintenance, and upgrade processes. Here’s to a new year of enhancing the employee experience through increased technology adoption and more data-driven workflows.