Webinar Highlights: Overcoming Maintenance Workforce Shortages

Maintenance and facilities management teams keep businesses running, but they can’t run without teams of professionals boasting the right experience and set of skills. Unfortunately, bringing the right people on board and keeping them on board is typically easier said than done. 

In our recent report on the State of Maintenance in Manufacturing and Facilities Management, workforce shortages ranked as a top challenge. Just about half of respondents (51%) identified it as among their top three obstacles to success.

Workforce shortages: an ongoing challenge for maintenance

Neither of the panelists in our webinar, 5 Effective Strategies to Stay Ahead of Workforce Shortages, was surprised to see that talent topped the list of challenges. John Rimer, President of FM360, noted that recruiting and retaining great people was a recurring, cross-industry problem. “We’ve been seeing this coming for well over a decade,” he said. Even worse, Rimer suggested that we’re only just beginning to see the effects of an aging and retiring workforce. He reminded attendees that another 25% of the skilled workforce is expected to retire by the end of the decade.

Limble’s CEO and Co-Founder, Bryan Christiansen, remarked how “every single industry is trying to fix this” and that the subject often comes up in conversations with prospects. One interesting takeaway from the State of Maintenance survey was that Limble customers were 20% less likely than non-customers to name workforce shortages as a primary challenge. 

During the webinar, sponsored by Facility Executive Magazine, the pair explored a range of strategies for overcoming workforce shortages and building a more effective and resilient approach to workforce management. They were joined by two moderators,  Limble’s Content Manager, Erin Vogen, and Jennifer Goetz, an author at Facility Executive.

Strategies for overcoming skills shortages

How are maintenance and facilities pros tackling (or attempting to tackle) their talent challenges? Here were the five most common answers from the more than 250 who responded to our survey:

  1. Getting creative with new recruitment and retention strategies
  2. Rethinking compensation
  3. Outsourcing tasks to third-party contractors
  4. Offering opportunities to employees to upskill and cross-train
  5. Boosting efficiency with new technologies 

Our panelists looked at each of the top five approaches and offered best practices to attendees. 

Recruitment and retention

Both Christiansen and Rimer spoke about the value of reaching out to schools that offer maintenance and facility management programs to get in touch with promising prospects early. Once you’ve brought employees on board, both a clear career path and a strong sense of purpose can improve retention. “Build a solid culture,” Christiansen advised attendees, “help your team understand why they’re there.” He encourages managers to remind their employees across the maintenance team, “Without you, the whole business stops.”

Pay and benefits

Rimer argued that the maintenance function has historically failed to advocate for itself and tell a compelling story to executive decision-makers. “We’ve done a bad job,” he said, “of quantifying, communicating, and selling the value of what we do.” One notable consequence is that professionals in the space – even industry veterans –  are often seriously underpaid. Changing the conversation means tying a data-backed ROI to maintenance. This should involve consulting stakeholders from other departments to understand their challenges better and begin to talk in terms of making money rather than saving money. 


While Christiansen contended that “outsourcing is part of any healthy maintenance strategy,” he and Rimer agree that it’s not typically a permanent solution to skills shortages. Both suggested that managers evolve the structure of their maintenance departments and begin recruiting with their goals for the future in mind. 


Offering opportunities for professional development can help keep employees engaged to boost retention and morale. Christiansen encouraged attendees to try out “skill tracking.” Start by writing down all the skills someone would need to reach the top level in a specific position. Then, break these into tiers – which skills are prerequisites for advancing past entry-level roles or moving into management positions? These resources can help guide your talent management efforts and give each employee a greater sense of purpose. 


Rimer was disappointed that investing in technology only ranked #5. He offered a grave statistic to illustrate the problems with maintenance’s current state, “50% of organizations are still 50% reactive.” A CMMS platform is essential for correcting this situation and evolving into a more proactive, preventive business. Christiansen extolled the broad benefits of the right tool. The data and reporting features offered by a platform like Limble can boost retention by making life easier for employees and helping maintenance departments get the green light to make new hires. 

Check out the full webinar

Stream the full on-demand webinar for more insights on overcoming workforce shortages and talent gaps with the help of CMMS platforms. 

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