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Maintenance: From Cost Center To Successful Investment
OTHER PARTS OF THIS ARTICLEPt. 1: This PagePt. 2: Strategies for Engaging the Maintenance WorkforcePt. 3: Engaged Managers Drive Maintenance Success
Workforce engagement is a key topic for institutional and commercial facilities. More than training and incentives, the issue of engagement speaks of workers who are dedicated to the tasks they perform each day, contributing their best efforts and seeing themselves as a committed part of the organization. Whether they are overtly noticeable or quietly acting, engaged employees are important team members who can help drive the organization forward.
How does engagement work in facility management? Maintenance and engineering managers might be tempted to think of facilities technicians as fundamentally behind the scenes, people who support the organization but are not directly contributing.
In my experience, that is an all-too-common perception, unfortunately. I’ve lost count of the number of times I have heard some variant of, “Facilities is a cost center, not a revenue generator.” The inference is that facility services somehow are less important to the organization because they do not generate revenue.
I would like to challenge the perception. Rather than a cost center, facilities is an investment in an organization’s success. Without facilities services, essential business functions — revenue generating and otherwise — cannot function.
But that’s the business side of things. Why would that issue matter to the facilities workforce? What does that discussion have to do with an engaged workforce? I promise, it matters.
Images of engagement
Let’s start by identifying an engaged employee. Employees who are engaged:
• See themselves as part of the larger organization. They look for ways to make things better, not just by the suggestions they provide on the way others can improve but instead through their own actions.
• Are emotionally invested. They contribute because they care. This sense of investment leads them to be concerned more with what they give and less with what they get.
• Focus on solutions. They are not content to merely identify a problem or log a situation. They tend to think more broadly. They consider the way problems affect others and look for ways they can help.
• Have a sense of purpose.
• Are more productive.
These people are inspiring, and we want to work with them. I believe that while each of us is unique with our own motivations and drivers, fundamentally we want the work that we do, the time that we spend, and the effort that we contribute to matter. To do that, we need to understand the things that are important. Another way to look at this dynamic is that whatever the organization is about, that is what facilities must be about.