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By Michael Cowley
September 2016 -
Maintenance & Operations Article Use Policy
Maintenance and engineering managers have struggled with staffing levels and adjustments throughout their careers. I know I have dealt with the issue for most of my 38-plus years in the business. More accurately, the struggles generally involved decreases in staffing, not increases.
I can only remember one time in my years where my boss came to me and said, “Mike, I think you need some more maintenance employees.” Looking back, I wish we had smart phones then. I could have taken a video of the meeting. How much fun could I have had with that over the years? The truth back then was we were adding on to the plant, and there was no doubt we needed more staff to handle the increasing maintenance workload, but that is a rare example.
I have been in the maintenance and management consulting business for more than 12 years, and the question of staffing levels in institutional and commercial facilities comes up each and every time I talk to a client. Over those 12 years, I have found that 95 percent of the maintenance and engineering departments are overstaffed. Yes, you read that right. They are overstaffed.
I could say it a little differently: The departments are properly staffed for their current method of leadership and management. So if they were to redesign the maintenance and management process and attempt to model themselves after a best-in-class organization, they would find that they are overstaffed. I will come back to the overstaffing discussion in a little bit, but first, let’s discuss the key considerations that managers need to address if they are justifying increases or decreases in their departments’ staffing levels.
Rethink Maintenance Staffing to Find Efficiency
Assessing Data to Help Determine Maintenance Staffing Levels