Small Schools Must Prepare to Maintain Facilities as Custodians and Facility Managers Retire

Posted in Blog, Facility Services

Many roles must be fulfilled within a school to ensure the best safety and learning outcomes for all students. Without competent facility managers and custodial staff, all occupants would struggle to stay focused on their work, morale would decline, and so would overall well-being. As time ticks on, however, those who have been in facility management and custodial roles for decades are slowly aging out of the workforce. Smaller schools with limited budgets and strained resources are particularly vulnerable to these effects, as filling these long-term roles can take a significant amount of effort, and reliable results aren’t guaranteed. 

Those in charge of a given school as a whole (i.e., superintendents, principals, CFOs, etc.) have plenty of knowledge regarding administration and budgeting, but they lack the skills to properly run facilities on the ground -- a steady, well-trained, experienced workforce is required to ensure the school runs smoothly day in and day out. As such, schools need to establish succession planning protocols to train new recruits and fulfill empty roles when senior workers prepare to retire.

Finding Fresh Faces for School Maintenance

The first step to maintaining a solid workforce for your small school is cultivating a system for recruitment that’s easy to activate and navigate when positions open up. You must feature the right incentives to attract potential candidates. Custodial janitorial jobs, for instance, might not seem appealing to a large swath of people, but offering competitive pay and benefits can provide you access to a much larger pool. Of course, the wages you offer will depend on your school’s budgetary restrictions, so you’ll have some limitations in this regard. For lower-level positions, aim your attention on newer entrants to the workforce, as many younger workers will be more open to a variety of job types when they’re just starting out.

Experience Matters

New, young workers can bring new energy to your school’s maintenance force, but note that some positions will require more experience. Broadly speaking, management jobs are best filled by those with previous management experience, namely management related to facility maintenance. These jobs are more competitive than lower-level janitorial jobs, so finding the right fit can be a challenge. If options are limited in your area, you might seek the aid of a facility support recruitment/hiring provider. These companies provide a direct link to high-level managers and other support staff to save you the hassle of intensive recruitment campaigns, interviews, and background checks. Ideally, you’ll have access to the right type of support for your needs, complete with a built-in team of reliable workers who can quickly adapt to your school’s facilities and schedules.

The Importance of Thorough Training

Even those you hire for entry-level facility maintenance jobs need proper training, of course. There are many useful approaches to training new employees in their specific roles. If a member of your aging workforce is nearing retirement but still has some time left at your school, they can provide invaluable knowledge to new recruits -- there’s no better way to learn a job than from those who have been doing it for such a long time. Not every school will be able to provide this direct training, however. Fortunately, facility support services can often offer training to the recruits they find, depending on the nature of the job. Members of your school’s current facility maintenance staff can combine forces with facility support services to train new employees at every level. With this multi-layered approach, fresh employees will gain generalized and specific knowledge regarding their roles at your school.

Every School Is Unique

One of the major challenges of replacing a retiring workforce with fresh faces is acclimating the new recruits to your facilities. After all, every school is unique and has different needs. Even the most experienced custodial workers may initially struggle to do their job when transferring from one location to another. Smaller schools have one advantage in this regard, as they usually feature simpler layouts. Still, it’s important for facility support staff to take the time to get to know your school so they can better provide the services you require. For instance, a school might be set on janitorial work but desperately require landscaping services due to a retirement. Your school’s culture and priorities might also necessitate certain types of workers with certain dispositions. Whatever the case, the best facility support providers will thoroughly inspect and evaluate your school’s facilities to provide the necessary help for your needs.

Putting the Right People in the Right Place

Equally as important as finding the right employees to take over building maintenance tasks is placing the right people in the right roles. Some employees will be better suited for certain roles than others, and it takes a careful eye to determine who’s best fit for which position. Your placement protocols should be based on merit, experience, and morale/culture for the most optimal outcomes. Full-service facility support companies can aid in this regard, too.

The Right Solution for Your School

Don’t get caught off guard by an aging workforce on the cusp of retirement. Your institution, faculty, and students can’t afford to go without reliable facility managers and custodians. Now’s the time to bolster your workforce and prepare for succession when the time comes for your long-haulers to leave. The Budd Group has the resources and experience to help with all your facility support needs, including recruitment, hiring, training, placement, and more. We also offer comprehensive maintenance services for educational facilities of all kinds.

To learn more about our services and values, give us a call today at 800-221-8158!

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