Facility leaders share their thoughts on what to expect this year and beyond
Join Dave Thompson on Feb. 27 in our Ask the Expert session on motivating and recognizing technicians and janitors
At our recent NFMT Remix conference in Orlando, I hosted two small-group “Huddle” sessions centered around staffing struggles. For these attendees — and I’m positive they’re not alone — the biggest challenge they currently face is finding qualified candidates.
Many indicated that available applicants are bypassing facility job postings, and those who do apply aren’t exactly a long-term fit for the role. Meanwhile, trade schools, once a reliable source of technicians, seem to have transitioned their programs away from facility maintenance. As one attendee explained, they are teaching people how to be nurses, but not how to keep the hospital running.
These and other challenges are forcing facility managers to do a little legwork and think outside the box.
For example, consider individuals who have served in the armed forces. A military background translates well to the facility industry. During our recent Facility Champion webcast, Steve Smith, director of facilities at William P. Clements Jr. University Hospital at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, and a veteran himself, explained that a military experience can provide an understanding of how facilities and plants operate or how boilers and other mechanical equipment work. In addition, veterans appreciate the value of teamwork and accomplishing objectives. His hospital has seen such success hiring veterans, that the goal is to have them make up 20 percent of the entire workforce.
To find veterans in your area, attend veteran job fairs and partner with military transfer programs and local veteran organizations.
Another route to finding candidates is to start recruiting while they are young. Although most high school students are taught that college is the next step in their educational journey, the reality is that this isn’t the best path for everyone. This is where facility managers need to step in and recruit these kids. If your local high school has shop or other technical classes, ask if you can visit and talk about your career. My son’s high school recently held a manufacturing career fair to educate upcoming graduates about jobs in this field. Perhaps a similar fair can be held focused on trade industries.
You can also reach the next generation by partnering with a SkillsUSA chapter in your area. This national organization preps young professionals for a career in 140 skilled trades, including those in facility maintenance and management.
Hiring is not going to get easier anytime soon. In fact, it likely will only get worse as more Baby Boomers reach retirement age. Take action now by forming partnerships with local organizations and lay the groundwork toward a steady stream of qualified candidates.
Dan Weltin is the editor-in-chief for the facility market. He has 20 years of experience covering the facility management and commercial cleaning industries.