How to empower facilities teams in the wake of COVID-19

The global pandemic has forever changed the face of facilities management. New processes for keeping facilities clean, disinfecting requirements, and strains on “normal operating procedures” have upturned how every facility team now functions. But, potentially, nowhere in facilities management has been affected as much as hiring and retaining associates.


The data is startling. In a recent study of almost 10,000 facility managers, 4insite found nearly 40% of facility management teams cited staffing, recruiting, and hiring issues. These challenges mean facilities do not have the staff to keep their buildings safe and clean.


The stakes are high. According to 4insite’s internal research, it costs on average $4,650 to hire a new employee. The point is clear: Turnover hurts facilities already operating with thin margins.


Associates are the backbone of facilities management, and now in the age of COVID-19, hiring and retaining associates is critical for every facilities manager. It’s time to rethink essential workers. Small investments will return big results.


The facilities teams enjoying effective staffing and retention practice a few key strategies around investing in and empowering their teams.


Here are the top two.

Invest in training- Investing in world-class training programs is a fantastic way to support your staff. But, not all training programs are created equally. To amp up your training programs, follow these four best practices:


  1. Invest in technology to make trainings easy to access for your associates. Training platforms make it easy to assign trainings to your associates and track their progress.
  2. Offer training in your associate’s native language. All too often, training programs are built only in English, while often, a majority of associates speak other languages. To meet your associates’ needs, offer training programs in their language. This will make the training “stick” and be more relevant.
  3. Shorten the sessions. Training programs are often too long, with too much irrelevant information. Shorten your training sessions to ten minutes or less, to make them easier to consume and less disruptive to working hours.
  4. Offer training incentives. Give your associates bonuses or extra incentives to complete their training programs. This is a win-win for you and the associate. When associates complete their training programs, you can be assured that the quality of your facility will improve.


Empower your associates- All associates want to feel autonomous and valued. But, traditionally, associates are often either micromanaged or undermanaged. It’s time to change this management practice to support and empower the foundation of your facilities management team.


To empower your associates, start with a few key strategies:


  1. As with training, find the right mix of technology to build empowerment programs with your associates. This could mean communications tools, employee reporting tools, and easy ways for your employees to share feedback.
  2. Start with a job description. Get alignment with your associates by clarifying their exact responsibilities.
  3. Open up communication. Encourage your associates to communicate with you about their working environment. You might be surprised to find growth opportunities. Again, little changes–even the ability for associates to communicate with leadership directly–make a tremendous difference in your associates’ satisfaction. 
  4. Encourage “ownership” of the facility through report-its and audit scores. Giving associates opportunities to drive the quality of the facility promotes teamwork and can be made into a fun challenge between teams.


The only way to attract, hire, and retain a world-class facilities team is with thoughtful strategies and consistent implementation combined with best-in-class technology.


The above strategies are just a starting point. Your team and situation will always be unique. But the goal of investing in and empowering your team will yield tremendous results, both for your facilities management practice and your building occupants.