Facility Dude

What the aging workforce means for facility management

By Kate Donnelly
Nov 26, 2014

Industry News

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There is a trend in the facility management industry of waves of aging buildings and old infrastructure that, if left unchecked, can lead to a number of costly and time-consuming maintenance issues. But the buildings and assets aren't the only things that are getting older.

What the aging workforce means for facility management The U.S. is currently riding the crest of the wave of the silver tsunami - the mass exodus of baby boomers into retirement age. The number of workers who fall on the older end of the spectrum is almost disproportionately high. Building administrators and FMs alike should prepare for the ways this shift can affect the industry and the daily operation of their facility.

A quickly aging workforce

According to a report published by SafeBuilt, the baby boomer generation is one of the largest represented by the current workforce, and they're rapidly approaching retirement. In fact, it's estimated that roughly 10,000 people will turn 65 every day until 2030. Even those who remain in the workforce past conventional retirement age are still likely to impact their industry in other ways, from physical ability to technological proficiency.

Employees rapidly reaching retirement age have the potential to leave the industry severely shorthanded. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the field is seeing an average rate of growth - around 12 percent between 2012 and 2022. In contrast, with 10,000 people reaching retirement age every day, it's likely that gaps are opening up faster than the remaining workforce is able to close them.

More than just retirement

Even considering that 65 is no longer immediately synonymous with retirement, this significant contingent of the industry brings with it other implications for how the field will develop and operate on a day-to-day basis. One area of particular note is the increasing prevalence of IT systems and Web-based technology in the facility management field. Especially among larger facilities, building automation systems and CMMSs are becoming more common. While training is available, FMs who do not have an inherent technological proficiency like their younger millennial or even generation X counterparts may have more difficulty adopting these systems and effectively integrating them into operations.

Additionally, the rigors of building maintenance, especially in older facilities, may pose obstacles for older facility managers who experience age-related physical limitations. Larger or more complex facilities that require juggling multiple work orders at once in particular may be problematic in a time when a good portion of the industry is approaching retirement age.

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