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CMMS Strengthens Maintenance Worker Retention by Confronting These 4 Job Complaints

CMMS strengthens maintenance worker retention by confronting these 4 job complaints

Halt the vicious cycle of turnover by addressing these four maintenance concerns.

When anyone talks about undertaking more comprehensive enterprise asset management strategies, long-term sustainability isn't too far behind. Largely uneventful asset lifecycles, manageable preventive and proactive maintenance programs, high productivity or service uptime: All these benefits speak to how EAM solutions preserve the longevity of good business practices and, therefore, greater rewards for those organizations that adopt them.

Nonetheless, without a committed and well-cared-for workforce underpinning even the most thought-out EAM plan, businesses leaders shouldn't expect much of anything positive to last, starting with the maintenance crews inspecting and repairing equipment.

"Nearly 1 out of every 4 facilities managers have spent at least two decades with a single company."

Turnover throws a monkey wrench into enterprise cost efficacy

Asset-intensive industries have been fortunate over the years when it comes to employee retention. One study from the National Center for Assisted Living found retention rates of maintenance workers in the industry are second only to administrative and managerial positions. Similarly, a FacilitiesNet survey from 2008 revealed nearly 1 out of every 4 facilities managers have spent at least two decades with a single company.

That’s not to say maintenance worker turnover doesn’t happen, nor does it mean when turnover occurs it isn’t a big deal. Consider the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics salary ranges for maintenance workers – between around $22,000 and $60,000 annually – and research from the Society for Human Resource Management suggesting total costs could run an employer 90 to 200 percent of a lost employee’s annual salary to fully recover from turnover. To replace a middle-of-the-road technician earning $41,000 per year, a business may have to fork over more than $80,000 for recruitment efforts, onboarding administrative costs, training, workload delegation, etc. And in industries like manufacturing and logistics already struggling to fill hiring gaps because of retiring workers, these additional expenditures will only worsen financial difficulties.

As much as EAM solutions and computerized maintenance management systems like IBM Maximo or Infor EAM target asset reliability, they also make great inoculations against maintenance worker turnover by addressing four common complaints on every technician’s mind:

1. Strapped for resources

When any employee doesn’t have the tools to succeed – or even to simply maintain the status quo – engagement is certain to suffer.

Advanced CMMS platforms not only allow maintenance workers to build an actionable library of asset-related data relevant to the machines and ancillary components they oversee every day, but also workers and managers can tend to spare part inventories with greater attention. Personnel attending to an asset deficiency jeopardizing production volume will always know the performance history of the equipment under service, as well as arrive prepared with the correct supplies to remedy the situation.

2. Greater workload

Although the Industrial Internet of Things will undoubtedly bring a wealth of new technology to facilities everywhere, it may also carry with it higher work order volumes given the increase in manageable assets per organization.

While blending CMMS into legacy maintenance operations, businesses may also choose to implement other compatible EAM solutions, which only stand to enhance the offering, such as the creation of a master asset list (MAL) or applying an asset criticality ranking (ACR) to all equipment on-site and remote. These augmentations to general asset management in conjunction with CMMS integration establish a work order hierarchy constantly crunching real-time data and weighing repair requests. CMMS then prioritizes duties according to a predetermined value unique to the adopting business. That way, maintenance professionals don’t waste their time attending to a low-level disturbance while a larger failure disrupts production or service and generates even more work orders in the process.

Furthermore, developing a smarter system for handling work orders beyond the outdated "first come, first served" paradigm could potentially accelerate work order response times by, as we mentioned above, providing technical context for personnel. As a failure event occurs, maintenance crews can learn the name of the affected asset, its location and preliminary diagnostics via failure codes either from a terminal or through a mobile device utilized en route, resulting in reduced guesswork that extends time to repair.

3. Tighter regulations

Complying with safety, workforce and environmental regulations can be its own full-time job. Maintenance professionals like facilities managers and repair technicians already shoulder a considerable amount of the burden, and every time these guidelines grow or become more intricate, they detract further from the work maintenance teams are paid to perform.

In a general sense, CMMS imbues asset-intensive businesses with greater operational transparency, which leads to a heightened ability to detect the kinds of shortcomings that lead to violations and penalties. As this benefit directly pertains to maintenance workers, CMMS centralizes and automates much of the manual oversight necessary to stay within the bounds of local, state and federal law, dispensing with the comparatively non-value-added tasks that would otherwise consume a repairperson’s busy schedule.

4. Lack of personal capital

Fulfillment at one's job is just as imperative to retention as engagement is – to retain the best and the brightest in any workforce, businesses of all shapes and sizes must continually empower the skills and training their employees possess. Don't think of it as a way to pad a resume for their next jobs, but rather the gratification of knowing employers are personally and financially invested in cultivating value in workers who pay them in kind with years of dedicated service.

Therefore, mitigating the influx of menial tasks – duties such as data entry or pouring over schematics for minute details – onto maintenance professionals' itineraries allows them to spend more of their workdays wrist deep in the assets and technology they're not only contracted to care for but also actually want to work with. Why else would they choose their professions? For employers, this also means getting the most out of labor costs for their most seasoned staff instead of exorbitantly spending on labor anyone could undertake, perhaps even things that could be automated.

CMMS, at its core, provides maintenance crews with an intuitive platform housing terabytes of technical insight they can use right out of the box and an interface loaded with features they can master early in their tenure. Forget about solutions to turnover that don't address the root causes, the ones that allow turnover and rely on resources that supposedly let new employees "stand on the shoulders of giants," if hiring is possible at all. With CMMS powering EAM, maintenance workers in your facilities right now will be giants growing bigger by the day.

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