There’s a wave of Baby Boomers retiring from the facilities management field. So, what does that mean for younger professionals in the industry? Some might think this means more opportunities for advancement and increased responsibility, but another side to this story is that it also means plenty of new challenges. Many facility managers today are facing retirement at an earlier age than ever before. Older employees have a wealth of institutional knowledge and experience that cannot be replaced by younger workers—at least not immediately. However, when more senior employees retire, they leave behind vacancies that can be filled by new hires eager to bring fresh ideas and the latest technologies to an organization. This can significantly benefit maintenance operations. FM professionals understand how important it is to establish strong relationships with vendors who can provide helpful resources like tools, training programs, and more efficient workflows (like data collection).
The long-anticipated Baby Boomer retirement wave has begun to hit the facilities management field. In a recent survey, 63 percent of FM professionals stated that their companies are currently experiencing increased turnover or a reduction in staff due to employees retiring. Another 27 percent said this would be a problem in the next two years.
This is not entirely unexpected: According to the U.S Census Bureau, more than half (55%) of all people over 65 were still working in 2015, up from 40% ten years prior—and it is expected that this number to increase as health technology improves and people live longer and healthier lives.
The good news? A recent report by The Recruiting Roundtable revealed that 68% of executives surveyed said they expect there will be enough skilled workers available despite these retirements; however, 63% admitted that it’s difficult for them to find workers with relevant skills because hires often lack education or experience compared with what is needed for theirs.
While losing valuable institutional knowledge and experience is always problematic, retirement has some positive aspects.
For employees, retirement can be a wonderful opportunity to pursue more interesting or fulfilling interests, spend more time with family and friends, and engage in activities related to their passions. Given a chance for increased flexibility in how they spend their time each day, retirees may feel less stressed and more satisfied with life in general. This can positively affect productivity at work: research shows that workers who are happy outside of work are also happier on the job. It also helps that many retirees leave behind stressful jobs where they struggled with long commutes or excessive workloads—retirement offers an opportunity to decompress from these stressors without having any financial obligations weighing them down!
Additionally, older workers might initially struggle with technological changes like cloud storage systems or mobile apps that make communication easier than ever (the younger generation has used these technologies all along). Those who have been able to adapt will find themselves better prepared for new technology than someone who hasn’t been exposed yet – which is especially important when it comes time for training new hires about how things work around here now compared to how things worked back then!
For companies, there’s a potential upside: letting go of older employees who’ve decided not to retire would free up space within an organization’s budget.
Source: Helpjuice, 2021
When older employees retire, they leave behind vacancies that can be filled by new hires eager to bring fresh ideas and the latest technologies to an organization. This can significantly benefit maintenance operations.
New talent brings a fresh perspective on how things should be done. A fresh set of eyes will often point out flaws and inefficiencies in existing processes that may have been overlooked by long-time staff members whose knowledge may have become outdated. New hires will also be up-to-date on the latest trends, products, and technology in their fields, making them valuable assets when dealing with problems that might arise during their shifts or projects.
As discussed above, retiring employees bring knowledge and experience with them. They’ve been around long enough to know their organization’s strengths and weaknesses, growth potentials, and risks. They also have a lot of institutional knowledge that younger workers will not have had time to accumulate yet: they know where all the bodies are buried; they can tell which vendors overcharge or underperform; they teach about industry trends that impact the business (e.g., trends in sustainability). This institutional knowledge is valuable for an organization looking for ways to improve its operations or innovate new products/services without reinventing everything from scratch.
But how do these new talents get valuable and specific knowledge about the facility assets?
With a proper Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS), retaining some of their knowledge help prepare the next person for their position.
These guidelines can help ensure control of the facility information:
- Capture, manage and track data with a CMMS or Enterprise Asset Management (EAM).
- Create and maintain consistent data collection standards and processes. This includes proper data input for new assets and regular data input for maintenance and management activities.
- Use mobile devices to speed up work order response time and data entry whenever possible.
- Build effective communication protocols to keep valuable decision-building information flowing to all facility stakeholders.
- Rely on a software vendor to aid in implementation, training, and support to get the most value out of the CMMS/EAM system.
Here are six tips for making employee retirements work for a company’s maintenance team instead of against it.
1. Plan for transitions and replacements.
In planning for transitions and replacements, better understand what the team needs to continue functioning efficiently. This will help avoid surprises later on and keep the maintenance team productive. Here are some questions one should ask oneself:
- Do I have enough skilled workers to cover upcoming vacancies?
- What steps do I need to take now so that my maintenance staff is fully prepared when they leave? If a replacement isn’t in place, how much time do I have before one is needed? How can we make sure that the transition goes as smoothly as possible?
2. Acknowledge employees for their contributions.
- Thank the employee for their service.
- Recognize their contributions to the company.
- Encourage them to stay involved in the company if they so choose.
3. Write up an employee handbook.
An employee handbook is a great way to formalize a maintenance department’s policies, procedures, and expectations. It should be written in clear language that employees can understand. Here are some things to consider when putting together a handbook:
- Start with the basics.
- Make sure it covers all the bases.
- Keep it brief and easy to digest.
4. Use a CMMS to complete work assignments.
- Use the CMMS to assign work.
- Track progress in the CMMS.
- By tracking their work history using a CMMS, learn more about new employees’ backgrounds.
5. Keep techs informed about the CMMS.
The CMMS is a powerful tool, but it’s not a magic wand that will take care of the maintenance team. But by keeping techs informed about the CMMS, they’ll be able to use it effectively. Here are some ways to do that:
- Make sure they know how to use all aspects of the system—including entering work orders, entering time and expenses, entering parts, and so on.
- Give them sufficient training before they start using the tool.
- Encourage them to ask questions if something seems unclear, problematic (or weird).
6. Give trainees some responsibility, even if it’s little at first.
The best way to do this is by assigning trainees some responsibility, even if it’s little at first.
Give them a chance to prove themselves. Everything can’t be learned in a day or two, so ensure that new hires are given enough time and guidance to feel like they’re making progress toward their goals within the first few weeks of training.
Give them a chance to learn how things work around here; this will help them feel more comfortable before they start working on projects independently later on down the road!
Give them a chance to grow as people by giving themselves tasks that challenge their abilities but don’t overwhelm them too much yet either; then watch while they slowly improve over time! This will also help prevent burnout since people tend not to want to work jobs where there aren’t any challenges anymore.
Give newbies an opportunity not just because everyone needs love too. But also, being able-bodied doesn’t mean someone shouldn’t have chances (unless said person isn’t interested). So try adding some variety into the daily routine with fresh faces from which there may be challenges ahead and enjoyment along with it too!
Retiring facilities professionals leave behind a valuable legacy: institutional knowledge and experience. But these workers also have many years of work behind them, which means they’re likely not going to be around forever. As an FM professional, your job is to find ways to make the most out of this situation so that retiring employees can leave with peace of mind and send off their replacements confidently in their new roles.