At the 2022 annual IFMA (International Facility Management Association) World Workplace® conference, held in Nashville September 27th-29th, a circulating flyer stating that “51% of FM workers want to quit” created considerable buzz. This statement, which was based on a recent survey conducted by The Deskless Report 2022*, doesn’t come as much of a surprise to industry insiders like Mark Cukro, President of Plus One Consulting, Inc. and founder of Service Team Training.com. Mark, who was the Director of Service Team Development for Colonial Properties Trust, Inc, prior to starting his own company, and is now a national speaker and a leading resource in the field of service team development and training, has noted the industry wide difficulty in recruiting and retaining good technicians, and the toll that this is taking on companies’ bottom lines:
“So many companies and properties are struggling, as they can’t find techs, can’t keep them for long, or the level of technical expertise is not where it needs to be. As a result, service requests are not getting completed in a timely manner, the maintenance that needs to be performed is backing up, and preventative maintenance is neglected, creating bigger and more costly projects than necessary.”
Obviously, this means organizations must shift how they retain and attract technicians if they want to keep their businesses running smoothly. Our team met with Mark to get his insights on why good maintenance technicians are so hard to find – (Spoiler: he sees the situation getting worse before it gets better!), and the common mistakes organizations make that cause them to lose valuable talent.
Technicians do not have the tools and equipment
One of the most common mistakes companies make is not providing their technicians with the tools and equipment they need to do their job. Without the proper tools, technicians are unable to properly do their job and can become frustrated looking for or waiting on much-needed tools. Make sure you are equipping your technicians with everything they need to be successful and productive.
“Each person should have their own individual set of tools and equipment. You have a tremendous production loss when technicians have to make multiple trips back to the shop for tools or wait until one is available,” said Mark.
While it’s common to use the excuse that “tools disappear” the real reason you may find your organization loses tools is equipment is because you hired a thief. “Often organizations use that as an excuse for their technicians of why they don’t supply them the proper tools,” commented Mark.
It’s similar to providing the proper software to office employees. You wouldn’t expect an employee in your account department to not have access to Excel or your bookkeeping software to properly do their job.
Believing pay to improves morale and keeps employees
Offering competitive pay is important, but it’s not the only factor that contributes to employee morale and retention. In fact, some companies make the mistake of thinking that offering higher pay will improve employee morale and keep them from looking for other jobs.
“I have seen a lot of organizations focus on the monetary part of it and not on the way they treat employees, the work environment,” said Mark. “Why would someone want to work with your company if not using pay as the only benefit?”
It’s important to find a balance when it comes to pay and benefits. Offering a competitive salary is important, but also make sure you are providing employees with a good work-life balance, a positive work environment, and treating them with respect.
Believing pay to improves morale and keeps employees can be a costly mistake for organizations. Make sure you are focusing on factors other than pay when it comes to employee morale and retention.
Overworking and burning out technicians
Overworking and burning out technicians is another common mistake companies make. When technicians are overworked, they become stressed and can quickly become burned out. This can lead to them leaving the company or becoming less productive.
Make sure you are giving your technicians enough time to rest and rejuvenate. It’s important that they are able to come into work refreshed and ready to take on whatever challenges the day throws their way.
“I don’t think leadership realizes how overwhelmed technicians are right now,” said Mark. “They’re overworked, many are living paycheck to paycheck, burning the candle at both ends and barely getting what they need.”
Organizations that continue to operate at the status quo while focusing on staff shortages without stopping to appreciate the technicians they have in place today could see the staff shortages get worse.
Skipping training to fill in gaps
When technicians are asked to fill in gaps and do not have the proper training, they can become overwhelmed and less productive.
Make sure you are providing your technicians with the necessary training to do their job. This will help them feel more confident in their abilities and minimize the chances of them feeling overwhelmed or stressed.
“Training is important, even though you may be short-staffed,” said Mark. “taking the time to train employees pays off in the long run.”
When technicians are properly trained, they are able to confidently do their job and be more productive. Skipping training to get people “in the field” could be a costly decision you pay in the long run.
Micromanaging and controlling the work environment
Micromanaging and controlling the work environment can also lead to technicians leaving or becoming less productive. When technicians feel like they are being watched and controlled, it can make them feel uncomfortable and stressed. This can lead to them making mistakes or becoming less productive.
Make sure you are giving your technicians the space they need to do their job. Allow them to work without excessive interference. Trust that they are capable of doing their job correctly.
“Technicians want the tools and equipment they need, they want you to leave them alone, and show them respect,” said Mark. “The number one thing considered very disrespectful by technicians is being constantly interrupted, being pulled off one job or another or going through controlling scenarios.”
The generation entering the workforce today would rather have no job than work in a hostile or over-controlling work environment. That doesn’t mean letting employees do what they want, but starting from the perspective of “is our company or property a good place to work?”
Micromanaging and controlling the work environment can be a major cause of technician turnover or decreased productivity. Make sure you are allowing your technicians to do their job without excessive interference.
When it comes to retaining and attracting technicians, organizations need to focus on factors other than pay. This includes providing the necessary tools and equipment, giving technicians enough time to rest, and providing proper training. Additionally, organizations should give their technicians the space they need to do their job without excessive interference. By doing so, you can create a work environment that is respectful and conducive to productivity.
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*The Deskless Report is an annual look at the state of the deskless workforce.