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You Don't Need to Fear Technician Turnover

Turnover is inevitable, but it’s become a problem in the facility management industry.  Many facility workers have been in their jobs for 20+ years and are close to retirement. While losing a team member is stressful, the biggest problem comes down to documentation - or lack thereof. When workers leave, they take years of building-specific experience and knowledge with them. Here are three ways to prepare for personnel changes.

Start Brain Dumping

When there’s a question about an asset or room in your facility, you probably know who has the answer. It’s great that your team knows the nooks and crannies of your buildings, but reduce information loss in the future by documenting every task your team is responsible for. Here’s how to get started:

  1. Update your floor plans

  2. Locate all assets on your floor plan, such as fire extinguishers, pull stations, boilers, chillers, univents and unit heaters

  3. Document the asset’s unique information, such as make, model and serial number number

5 Steps to Accurate Floor Plans - Click to Download

The best place to store all this information isn’t in a binder, spreadsheet or filing cabinet, because these methods aren’t easily accessible to your whole team. You’ll want to store it in a browser-based, facility management software (FMS), because it’s designed specifically for the day-to-day tasks of the facility management team and connects all the asset information to work orders.

Document Your Assets

Documentation may sound easy, but it can take many hours to accomplish. Luckily, FMS providers, including AkitaBox, provide data collection services at an affordable rate so you can start using the tool sooner.

After the initial data collection, start taking notes on your assets. For instance, these include:

  • Replacement parts an asset requires

  • Last time maintenance was performed

  • Tools and safety equipment required for different maintenance tasks

  • Scheduling work orders for regular and preventative maintenance

  • Compliance information, which is critical for fire and life safety equipment inspections

Writing this information down on a piece of paper or the asset itself technically works, but you have to be with the asset to see this information.

What not to do:

Facility asset maintenance info written on asset

If it’s notated in a system such as AkitaBox, you can be miles away in another building and still access this information. It also will never get lost and stay preserved for years to come.

Write Job Descriptions

Work with your team to identify and write down what work they do on a daily basis. Once you understand what everyone does and their specialties, you can ask them to write down the assets they find themselves most often doing maintenance on most often, what this maintenance includes, documents they commonly access and tools they need so it can be documented in your FMS.

Example: A motor on a chiller breaks, so you send your chiller technician out to the facility to replace it. When the technician gets there, they realize they don’t have the correct tools, so they have to go back, pick up the tools and finally replace the motor. This trip could have been saved if that information was documented in a FMS.

Getting your team to start writing what they do is the hardest part, since most of them don’t think about it too often. Here’s a general example of a maintenance technician job posting that can offer a starting point.

Start Mentorship Programs

The first two points focus on preparation for turnover, but creating mentorship programs is a proactive approach to retaining staff who will eventually become team leaders. Most entry-level people you’ll hire are younger than 40 years old, making them millennials. You’ve probably heard quite a few stereotypes about this younger group, but one you can take advantage of is their desire to learn and grow professionally. What does that mean for you? It means finding ways your employees can learn more about their industry outside of their job.

For instance, you could let them shadow a tradesperson or specialist, or even provide a few hours of continuing education training. Facility management is one of the few industries where a degree is replaced with on-the-job experience, and you have a whole facility they can use as a classroom.

Turnover is something every department in your facility faces, but making that transition smooth is especially difficult for the facility management team. These three start points should make it easier.

What do you think? Share your methods below in the comments.

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