How to retain staff in a culture of high turnover

Imagine you just hired a new maintenance director. They completed training and were finally hitting their stride and becoming familiar with the building’s equipment…and then they quit, in the middle of winter and with spring on the way, leaving a long list of preventive maintenance and upkeep tasks that needed to be done and not enough staff to do them. Now, you need to find someone new, fast. You have a lot on your plate, and less time than ever before to get the job done. With all of these troubles, figuring out solutions can seem like a frustrating impossibility that you don’t want to handle alone. Thankfully, you don’t have to.

2023 saw a turnover rate of 28.4% for maintenance positions across the United States.1 Let’s examine how you can address the maintenance turnover lifecycle and leverage the tools you need to beat this number as you recruit, onboard and retain your maintenance staff in a culture of high turnover.

There are three general steps in the hiring process:

  1.     Finding the right person
  2.     Onboarding your new maintenance staff member
  3.     Retaining your new hire

Here are some easy, actionable strategies and tools you can use in your facilities.

Building management recruiting & talent aquisition best practices

Let’s be real, it’s growing harder to find qualified Maintenance Directors and even when you do find a candidate, there are other facilities all competing for them as well.  For some industries, like healthcare, In fact, more than half (57%) of health system executives expect talent shortages and workforce challenges will impact their organization’s strategy in 2024, according to survey results conducted by Deloitte Center for Health Solutions2

In response, more and more facilities are “focusing on attracting and retaining employees who have the skills needed to keep up with the changing health care landscape.2Resourcefulness, a willingness to learn and the ability to pick up new skills quickly are the new qualities to look for in a candidate.

how to recruit onboard and maintain staff using CMMS TELS Platform
This holds true for other industries as well. “The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) released its second annual Industry Trends Survey responses from U.S. – based workers in the electrical, manufacturing, construction, engineering, architect/design, facility maintenance, fire service, and insurance/risk management fields, which yielded the following results: 

  • 46.4% of respondents identified tech integration as a crucial skill
  • 46% noted digital tools will help increase communication methods
  • 70% said they would be interested in trying new, diverse tools on the jobsite (up from 68% in 2023)3

This emphasis on technology is where you can leverage the CMMS tool TELS® Platform. A growing practice in building management positions involves narrowing down the search for maintenance candidates by evaluating a potential hire’s familiarity with the TELS® system. As the number one maintenance platform in the Senior Living industry with over 15,000 buildings, and rapidly rising in popularity in healthcare, educational systems and other industries, there are many facilities who specifically post TELS experience as a favorable job skill to have, thereby easily streamlining the hiring process and narrowing down the search without spending valuable time searching through candidates.

Even if your potential new recruit isn’t familiar with TELS, the user-friendly platform makes it easy to test your maintenance job candidate. Consider giving a candidate a real life test – pair the candidate alongside another maintenance staff member on an actual work order to evaluate how quickly the candidate can navigate through TELS. This helps determine whether or not that candidate has the capability to ask relevant questions, learn new technologies quickly, and can help determine if they can contribute to your community with their willingness and ability to adapt to the fast-paced environment of building maintenance. While TELS isn’t the only test you may want them to take, it can help you sort through the applicants at a faster rate. 

However, some facilities simply don’t have the luxury of a vast pool of qualified individuals familiar with the industry they’re applying for. As a result, they need to view candidates that may not have the experience needed. This is where we are seeing buildings use the TELS system to their advantage. Since TELS is customizable, you can upload docuemntation, information and training opportuities tailored for your staff. This helps open up your job pool to people outside the industry without compromising the safety of your facility as the platform offers self-service instructions and safety guidelines to help your new hire keep up with industry standards.

How to onboard maintenance staff in helathcare, Behavioral Health, Senior Living, and other popular industries

two men shaking hands in front of table with laptopOnce you find the right fit for the maintenance position in your building, you need to quickly onboard your new hire and get them on their feet as fast as possible. You don’t have time to hold their hand or ease them into the position – you have work to do, and now, so do they.

Thankfully, there is a way to speed things up using the resources you already have. TELS offers unlimited users at no extra cost, so setting up a new user and configuring tasks for them is a snap with the available self-service instructions. Platform users also have the added benefit of the entire TELS Masters Training Hub; a complete on-demand library of interactive training options to help ramp up new users. The certificate they receive at the end of the initial onboarding series allows you to verify your new hire completed the course without you needing to look over their shoulders. 

Along the same vein, one mainstream issue that’s popping up across industry is lack of documentation. Many facilities find themselves in a bind when Maintenance Directors leave their position, taking vital information and records with them. New hires don’t have access to the building history, records retention, preferred venders, service history and repair records. Facilities who utilize the online documentation of TELS mitigate this damage by keeping all of these records and documentation online within the system.

This means new hires aren’t flying blind when they’re onboarded. Through TELS, they can access these documents as well as create and keep track of work orders, and even access step-by-step instructions on how they can complete the tasks assigned to them. Pair this with TELS Building Services, and they’ll have a list of vetted vendors, competitive pricing and negotiated rates without needing to spend time researching this information. Additionally, requesting service is easy with a single point of contact for common services, allowing new hires to save time by knowing where to turn when they need help. It’s the cheat sheet that will do the handholding for you and help ensure your building is up to regulation, even if your new maintenance director has no prior experience in healthcare, Behavioral Health, Senior Living, or thoer industries you’re hiring in.

How to retain maintenance staff in building maintenance

Hands touching TELS CMMS on mobile phone in front of Senior Living buildingLack of staffing has pushed people into roles they normally wouldn’t take on, and into buildings outside of their own scope. You need someone who is reliable, and who you can trust to get the job done without being intimidated by the fast-paced and oftentimes demanding tasks found as a maintenance staff member. After all, the safety and comfort of occupants and staff often relies on the capabilities and speed of your maintenance team.

There are three key strategies you can easily take on in order to improve and retain staff in a culture of high turnover:

  1. Give technologies that help simplify their jobs
  2. Foster healthy communication within maintenance teams
  3. Provide your team learning opportunities to enhance their skills

1. Retaining staff with helpful technologies

Time management emerged as a major pain point in the past couple years. Time is a precious commodity that can make or break a maintenance director. Providing reliable technology is key for time management and your ability to retain maintenance staff. Identifying ways your maintenance staff can cut out busy work and focus on the care of the building and resident’s safety is now an essential part of the job.

This is where TELS Platform and TELS Building Services is a versatile tool to help you with these goals. We’ve found that facilities who leverage the mobile app free up more time than those who don’t. TELS cuts the need to travel to and from an office to file paperwork. Instead, facilities log completed tasks and view work orders on the TELS mobile app. Buildings are investing in Wi-Fi and mobile phones for their staff to ensure maintenance has access to the app, thus allowing your maintenance staff to accomplish more tasks and quickly input the necessary documentation right on site, and gain access to paperless work orders with EHR integration systems such as PointClickCare.

2. Fostering healthy communication and accountability within your maintenance teams

Retention also relies on the relationship you build with your staff. Other facilities schedule weekly or monthly recurring calls for a deep dive into different TELS aspects, or even topics like time management to get a feel for how the new staff member is doing in their new position. People who are willing to partake in these discussions usually perform better, and in these meetings, you can address any concerns your new maintenance member has as well.

You can use the information and tracking capabilities in TELS Platform to foster accountability and reward employees based on important metrics, such as completing required tasks on time, hitting goals, or decreasing the amount of time unit turnovers take as you work to get rooms back on the market faster.

3. Providing new learning opportunities to increase staff training

As mentioned in the NFPA’s Industry Trends Survey, technology and education were vital to workers in facility maintenance, fire service, manufacturing and other skill-based jobs. Even if your facility has a CMMS to foster better time and task management skills and increase communication, you still need to educate your staff on how to use it effectively. By creating a training program, or using a CMMS that already has a training program in place such as the TELS Masters training, you’re showcasing your dedication to your staff’s continued growth and success in their role. 

It’s time to push back on turnover. Sign up for TELS today.

We are continuously striving to find solutions to common road bumps in building management jobs, and we’ll continue to provide learning and collaboration opportunities for you to connect with peers across the industry. You have the tools in TELS Platform to alleviate some of the pain points in finding and hiring maintenance staff, and one of the greatest advantages you’ll find in TELS is the visibility it provides into the everyday happenings of your maintenance staff. You can monitor performance with dashboard and reporting options to provide clear performance goals. With this visibility, you can see where your facility is strong, and where some changes may be needed. 
We’d like to say there’s a ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution for each step in recruiting, onboarding and retaining your maintenance staff, but that just isn’t the case.  So, we will continue to connect with communities nationwide to keep you updated on the latest approaches and steps different facilities are taking, and create conversation that helps our team solve this issue with you.

If you have solutions not mentioned on this blog, we encourage you to reach out to your TELS Representative or submit your ideas here! Or, if you are not currently using TELS Platform at your facility, contact TELS today for a demo.

*Availability may vary by location. Check with a TELS representative to see if your area has TELS Building Services.