The Inside Story on Solving Staffing Woes

Maybe it’s time to rethink the process of hiring new staff members.

By Dan Hounsell, Senior Editor  

The labor shortage continues to bedevil maintenance and engineering departments in institutional and commercial facilities, and managers might feel as though they have run out of options. Most have looked into every viable source for finding front-line technicians to join their departments, from their competitors and the military to technical colleges and even high schools. They've also exhausted a range of recruiting strategies, including social media platforms and job fairs. 

Maybe it’s time to rethink the process. 

More specifically, based on conversations with attendees NFMT Baltimore in March, as well as comments from conference speakers, managers might want to turn their attention away from outside sources. Answers to their staffing challenges just might lie within their own organizations. 

First, managers need to take a much closer look at hiring from within. While the traditional hiring approach is to look elsewhere for new technicians, managers too often overlook internal candidates. For maintenance openings in particular, managers might take a closer look at their organizations’ housekeeping or environmental services workers. These workers already know the facilities and their operations, and with minimal targeted training, they might be able to make the transition to maintenance. 

Second, managers need to rethink their relationships with their organizations’ human resources (HR) departments. Many managers have become frustrated working with HR, but the inescapable truth is that these professionals can provide valuable insights and assistance before and during the hiring process. One attendee told his peers in a session on hiring for capital project planning that by working with his HR department to revise job descriptions and repair a faulty website for applicants, he finally was able to locate and hire qualified technicians he had been unable to attract. 

Solving tough problems often requires outside-the-box thinking. In the case of staffing problems in maintenance and engineering departments, the answer actually might call for looking inside instead. 

Dan Hounsell is senior editor of the facilities market. He has more than 30 years of experience writing about facilities maintenance, engineering and management. 

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  posted on 6/2/2023   Article Use Policy

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