Tighter Budgets, Increased Connectivity Lead To Longer Hours For Facility Managers
Tighter budgets and increased connectivity are pushing facility managers to work longer hours. Working longer hours means that normal business hours have expanded by "an hour or so," says Althoff, but work continues at home, after hours and on weekends, sometimes for several hours. One reason is the workload, and the other is greater ability to connect electronically and the improvement in portable devices, such as smart phones and electronic tablets, that can handle complex data. "You can easily see drawings and Web-generated platforms without waiting for big downloads to occur," says Althoff.
"I've always worked long hours," says Peterson, but he is very careful about extending the hours of wage employees. Nonetheless, the rank-and-file are also going through stress. "They are not getting the benefits and pay they used to get. There is more on their plate." As a result, Peterson says there are more employee issues to deal with. "We are in our fourth or fifth year without pay increases, and they are getting tired of it."
The slow economy has had another sort of impact on facility managers, notes Stormy Friday, president of the Friday Group. "A number of folks are not able to retire and are working harder than they did before," she says. "They are doing the jobs of multiple people." The FM Pulse survey shows that a significant number of facility managers at or approaching retirement age have continued to work because of the slow economy. (See "Retirement Delays Still Common for FMs" on page 46.)
The retirement of those experienced professionals may well create a vacuum in many organizations, as they take their institutional knowledge with them, says Friday. "There is limited opportunity to backfill positions," says Friday. "Facility professionals as a whole tend to stay longer in their current positions, and often they cannot hire somebody ahead of time and train them." While facility managers would like to do better succession planning, they don't have the budget to do so.
The staff cuts have put a premium on effective management. In Charlotte, N.C., the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Public Schools went through two or three reductions in force, according to Philip Berman, executive director for building services. "Our (reductions in force) aligned to crucial needs and performance," he says. "We are operating with less staff at a lower cost, but our customer evaluations are at very high levels. You have to manage appropriately and set high standards so you can do more with less."
Berman manages 159 schools and some 650 buildings. According to the benchmarks for the Council of Great City Schools, his district is poorly funded in the custodial area, but Berman says he is performing at a level of efficiency equivalent to school districts with much better staffing, and he has very low turnover. The school district focuses heavily on training, using process improvement and quality management systems, and staff use standardized cleaning procedures.