How to Recruit and Retain New Hires During the Great Resignation

Is it really a surprise that facility managers are struggling to recruit and retain new employees into this industry?   October 6, 2022

By Dan Weltin, Editor-in-Chief

Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic and the "Great Resignation" that has followed, there has been a mass exodus of workers across all industries.  

To put it in perspective, in September 2021, the same month federal unemployment insurance benefits ended, 4.4 million U.S. workers quit their jobs. One month later, another 4.2 million employees left, followed by another 4.5 million in November 2021.    

Adding insult to injury for those in facility management, this industry is typically made up of older employees. Studies show that the average age in facility maintenance is 52. Nearly one-half of the workers are 55 to 64 years old. During the Great Resignation, Baby Boomers are leaving more than any other generation. Before the pandemic, 1 million workers retired in an average year. However, in 2020 and 2021, more than 3.5 million workers retired each year.   

Is it really a surprise that facility managers are struggling to recruit and retain new employees into this industry? 

When it comes to finding the future workforce for this industry, the recent "Maintenance Technician Staffing Report," published by fnPrime, shows that referrals are not only the most popular recruitment strategy, they are also said to be the most effective. Candidates from a referral process tend to be more reliable and a better fit for the department — likely because this person has already been through a sort of vetting process by the referring employee.  

Another popular recruitment strategy is to offer apprenticeships and internships. These programs give facilities a pipeline of qualified candidates who are ready to fill vacancies and can often work alongside veteran staffers who will soon retire. Apprenticeship programs also allow students with technical mindsets to "test the waters" of facility maintenance and see if it is right for them while learning and growing on the job.  

However, finding employees is just the start. Next, facility managers need to figure out how to keep these workers. The "Maintenance Technician Staffing Report" shows that most employees leave for more money. Unfortunately, increasing pay proves to be a short-term solution to turnover. Someone else will always offer more money, and employees will still leave. Giving a raise to someone looking for more money will just delay the inevitable.   

Facility managers need to find incentives other than money to attract and retain new hires. More successful solutions have been competitive health insurance programs and generous amounts of paid time off.  

More answers to hiring and retention challenges can be found in the "Maintenance Technician Staffing Report." Another source for answers is the "Hiring and Retention Roundtable" taking place on Thursday, Nov. 3 during NFMT Remix at the Paris Las Vegas Resort.  

This one-hour Think Tank session is designed for facility managers to steer the conversation and get the help they need to curb turnover. Attendees will have the opportunity to ask for help and share best practices with their peers.  

Dan Weltin is the editor-in-chief for the facility market. He has nearly 20 years of experience covering the facility management and commercial cleaning industries. 


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