The Great Resignation and the high number of workers retiring over the last several years have led to labor shortages at many workplaces across the country. While some of those positions will be filled, it’s likely those replacements won’t have the same depth of knowledge as their predecessors. To help solve this problem, facilities managers should work with leaders in using technology and other solutions.
Speakers included Ben Riccio, Solutions Engineer at TMA Systems, and John Swofford, Vice President of Sales at TMA Systems and a 25-year veteran of the technology industry.
In a poll taken during the webinar, 70% of those watching live indicated the current labor shortage is impacting their organizations in three ways: growing backlog, employee retention/recruiting, and increasing labor and inventory costs. Just 22% said the labor shortage is only impacting their organization through employee retention and recruiting, while 4% said growing backlog and another 4% said increasing labor and inventory costs were impacting their companies.
“A lot of customers that we talk with, are facing the same situations where they are looking at how they are going to retain employees, how can they offer more incentives as far as how they can try to get a better quality of life balance with benefits. How do they train their existing staff moving forward for that additional new talent?” Swofford asked.
He noted other factors influencing the labor shortage include the new generation’s seeming reluctance to work as hard as the last generation and more workers nearing retirement age. He also explained the job market has 10 million openings but only 5.7 million unemployed workers.
To solve these problems, Swofford specifically advocated that facilities managers:
- Realize tradespeople and skilled labor are some of your most valuable resources.
- Analyze the state of maintenance, and use technology to streamline workflows.
- Develop the plan, then work on it.
Riccio encourages facilities managers to first determine the estimated time to complete each preventive maintenance task and to generate tasks, even if there’s no plan to complete them, to more accurately determine how large the backlog is. Then, a backlog report should be run.
Additionally, they should find out what the past year’s corrective task average time was. It’s important to view past backlogs and project future backlogs.
“If you have a smaller backlog, maybe only a couple hours here or there, it might not require a huge investment,” Riccio said, adding that small gaps could be filled cheaply by scheduling current workers to work overtime.
On the other hand, while the data could justify hiring more people, this might be challenging during the labor shortage.
Some common tasks that could save facilities professionals time include:
- Custodial services—sometimes it’s hard to keep up with constant cleaning, which was especially challenging during COVID.
- Pest control because of the need to use special chemicals.
- Unique equipment, such as an elevator, as elevator technicians are typically employed by the elevator manufacturer because there may not be enough skill-related tasks to keep them busy when they’re employed in-house.
Investing in technology could reduce future backlogs and prevent the need to have to hire more people. Consider the following technologies:
- Mobile devices help reduce time on travel to the central location for paperwork.
- Automation tools—auto-attendant allows automated work requests to be turned into work orders when the organization is closed, while auto-scheduling sends work orders to the appropriate technician.
- Material management—determine what parts should be in inventory and what parts can be ordered.
- Cross-functional integrations—have your computer maintenance management systems (CMMS) integrate with other systems, which could include procurement, space management, building management, human resources, fuel and oil, and more.
To watch the entire webinar for FREE on demand, click here.