40% of FMs will retire in the next 8 years: why adding millennials is key

Facility managers might not know it yet. . .but 40% of facility management service professionals will start retiring in the next eight years. That’s a significant number given the high volume of facilities management positions that are not getting staffed today due to a severe shortage of qualified candidates.

Facility Management Career Drawbacks

Facility Management Career Drawbacks

Tech-savvy millennials are naturally attracted to careers in technology and it’s likely they may not even be aware of the career opportunities that exist in facilities management. What will happen when the existing facilities management staff starts retiring? Succession planning needs to start today.

But first, there are three factors contributing to the current situation:

  • Facilities Management as an Occupation is Misunderstood

Up until 2018, the occupation of “facilities manager” was not recognized by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Instead, facility management was grouped into other classifications such as “First-Line Supervisors of Mechanics, Installers and Repairers” or “Administrative Services Manager.”

One of the criteria for whether a higher education institution includes vocation-based curricula is whether the occupation is listed in the BLS. If a specific occupation, like facility management, is not listed as a separate occupation, it’s highly unlikely they will include related coursework or certifications.

As of 2018, facilities manager is now included as a separate category with the BLS after IFMA wrote a document that convinced them to to make the change.

  • Executives Lack Understanding of the Facilities Management Role

Then there is the matter of how facilities management is perceived by senior executives. When IFMA conducted their Raising the Bar survey, they asked 1750 facility management professionals “What is keeping facility management software from acting more strategically?” A subset of the ten most common themes were answers like: “lack of understanding FM service,” “perception of the FM role,” “understanding benefits of FM,” and “cost focus.”

These responses confirmed the fact that facilities management is viewed as a cost center by executives. This creates an expectation that facilities managers focus on their ability to manage costs versus contributing to the bottom line and lessens the urgency for executives to allocate resources to attract the best talent.

  • Distorted View of What Matters to Millennials

As a generation, millennials continue to be stereotyped as lazy, disloyal and entitled. In reality, a number of studies have revealed a completely different reality of what drives millennials and how they compare to generations that preceded them. Here are two examples:

      • A 2014 White House report stated that “millennials actually stay with their employers longer than Generation X workers did at the same ages."
      • Gallup discovered that millennial are driven to work for organizations with a mission and purpose.

With this new information, it becomes clear that FM has what this younger generation wants: opportunities for growth, a dynamic work environment, a career path, and a high volume of job openings.

Using Technology to Innovate and Retain - Simultaneously

While adopting technology to improve how business gets done is gaining traction, facilities managers must be sensitive to the fact that leaving one’s comfort zone is often met with resistance.

One facilities manager solved this challenge by introducing a technology solution that solved one of the biggest headaches for his team – document management system. He recognized an opportunity to relieve stress and improve productivity with a solution his facilities team could use to access building information from their phone, tablet, or computer. It was a simple, but effective way to get buy-in on using technology from his entire team.

Making the use of technology an integral part of facilities management is also a great way to retain millennials. Emerging technologies present opportunities for millennials to built up their technical expertise while increasing the value the facilities management team contributes to the bottom line.

Bridging Generational Gaps

While it might seem challenging, there are ways to create a workplace environment where multiple generations of facilities management professionals can make significant contributions using their various strengths and abilities.

  • Cross-Generational Mentoring

Taking this approach means all team members participate in both mentoring others and being mentored which increases the depth of expertise across the team.

  • Generational Mixing

Being intentional about making sure team members get to know each other is important. This can be accomplished by something as simple as carpooling to offsite meetings.

  • Team Building

Activities focused around team-building can aid in retention as team members find common ground while collaborating to solve challenges with a purpose.

  • Recruiting and staffing strategy

Younger team members’ insights about attracting more millennial job candidates can complement the knowledge experienced team members have about the required skills and expertise.

A survey commissioned by JLL shows that when millennials are part of a larger organization, have opportunities for professional growth and can explore new roles, they are exceptionally loyal.

Building a Modern Facilities Management Teams

While the prospect of replacing retiring team members may seem daunting, this is an incredible opportunity for building up a facilities management team for the future. Rather than take a wait-and-see attitude, the time is now to tap into the next generation of facilities management professionals.

Why not get started today using technology in facilities management to attract, recruit and retain millennials. Technology solutions can also convince older team members of the increased job satisfaction having more time to apply their expertise to maintaining buildings for the comfort and safety of the occupants.

And finally, be sure to keep executives informed about positive results to reinforce the key role facilities management plays in maintaining and protecting one of their most expensive corporate assets.

You can read more about why developing a staffing strategy that includes millennials is important in this paper: Why Facilities Managers Should Adopt a Multi-generational Staffing Strategy. Share this video with your team to give them a glimpse into the future of modern facilities management. It’s already here!

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