The skilled worker shortage, or “skills gap,” is a trend affecting a number of industries and business verticals, and it doesn’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon.
While a recent uptick in trade school enrollment is giving those in the facilities and construction management field hope, the majority of skilled trade workers are reaching retirement age. More than 50 percent of trade workers are over the age of 45—an issue compounded by the fact that very few of these workers remain in the workforce past the age of 65; far fewer than in other occupations. As skilled tradespeople exit the labor force en masse, they will need to be replaced at a progressively rapid rate in the years ahead.
So, what do these trends mean for facilities managers grappling with dwindling staff, shrinking budgets and fewer resources? In the face of reduced maintenance teams and increased pressure to “do more with less,” facilities professionals have a few tools at their disposal.
Invest in Facilities Management to Attract Fresh Talent
Shifting perspectives and perceptions of what FM is and what it can offer an organization is the first step in getting qualified workers on board. By prioritizing their organization’s FM program and cultivating a strong culture where employees can thrive, facilities leaders will have an easier time staffing their teams. While this approach is more of a long-term play versus a quick fix, investing in FM team members, providing them with technological tools and support, offering them opportunities to grow in their roles and fostering a positive environment will help attract top talent.
Outsource Tactical Facilities Responsibilities
Much of a facilities professional’s duties can be considered tactical in nature: Fulfilling maintenance requests, processing work orders and servicing equipment all fall into this category. Because these tasks tend to consume most facilities managers’ energy, they often have little time to dedicate to more strategic initiatives.
Partnering with an integrated management company allows your staff to focus less on tactical tasks and more on strategies that can elevate their FM program to new heights. When a facilities manager has the bandwidth to focus on things like budgeting or planning a comprehensive preventive maintenance schedule, for example, they can contribute more meaningfully to organizational goals. In short, outsourcing tactical tasks enables FM teams to feasibly “do more with less.”
Take an Integrated Approach to Facilities Management
Plenty of organizations write FM off as a black hole for company expenses, but viewing maintenance needs through a cost center lens ultimately stifles FM’s true potential. When facilities systems remain disjointed, companies are frequently faced with a higher cost of total ownership. What’s more, this perspective leads to data silos and inefficiencies that wind up adding to, rather than subtracting from, facilities costs.
Integrated facilities management, or IFM, is the wave of the future for many reasons. For organizations battling against reduced maintenance teams, IFM simplifies operations and streamlines the entire maintenance process. It also helps with change management, which is key when it comes to training new team members and keeping everyone on the same page.
Dealing with issues like the current labor shortage involves deploying short- and long-term solutions, and it will likely take some time for the industry at large to catch up. But by focusing on the future while taking stock of current FM capabilities is a surefire way for organizations large and small to make the most of their resources.
Rick Sung is VP of sales at NEST Multi-Facility Management.