Nearly half of U.S. employers say that talent shortages in skilled trades are having a medium or high impact on their business, according to the Manpower Group's annual Talent Shortage Survey. Facility managers will be chagrined to learn that skilled trade workers, such as maintenance crews and building managers, were the hardest to fill positions for the sixth year in a row.
"Talent shortages are real and are not going away," said Kip Wright, senior vice president of Manpower North America, in the report.
For facility managers, the shortage of trade talent is further compounded by the fact that young people aren't entering the field at the same rate as Baby Boomer facility managers are beginning to move toward retirement. The report "How Facility Management is Changing in 2015" by online education provider RedVector found that the average age of a facility manager is 49, compared to average of 43 for other U.S. trades.
"As more of the boomers in facility management approach retirement age, the industry is facing a potentially serious skills gap," the researchers concluded. That means facility managers are forced to get creative in maximizing the efficiency of their existing teams.
For facility managers, one part of the solution will be strategically using the skilled trade and other employees already staffed at the facility. The first step in this modern strategy is establishing metrics and collecting data about the work being done and the team that's doing it.
By tracking everything from the number of work orders that are deployed during a particular shift to the efficiency of the maintenance schedule, facility managers can make sure that employees aren't sitting idle during some work periods and scrambling to finish projects during others.
Facility managers know that it's not just a body count issue, either. Proper staffing means having the right mix of junior and senior employees onsite. Analyzing maintenance data and work order trends can provide actionable insights into what types of employees to have on site during certain periods. Using maintenance software to staff shifts more accurately allows teams to maximize the effectiveness of their work hours and can also cut down on overtime expenses.
While facility managers facing a talent shortage can make better use of their existing teams by tracking operations and maintenance, it's also possible to deploy building automation to take over some of the tasks that employees have typically done.
Rather than relying on ground maintenance crew to adjust thermostats throughout the day, a timed thermostat can make these adjustments automatically. Taken even one step further, some facilities are using environmental sensors to lower the heat or dim the lights when rooms are unoccupied. That not only saves money, it can also minimize the amount of time an employee spends moving through the facility to turn lights off and thermostats down.