3 COVID-19 impacts on healthcare FM
“Hospital facility directors know the Environment of Care and The Joint Commission, but take them out of that environment, and they have not developed the skill set to succeed. But the world as they know it is going to change, and that is a risky proposition for them.”
A VP of Facility Management for a health system once told me this. Do you agree?
I believe it is unnecessarily harsh. Most hospital facility directors possess comfort outside of compliance, especially relative to infrastructure and building envelope issues. So, I disagree with the VP’s sentiment.
But the overall flavor of the quote is accurate. Change is here. More is coming. Advanced skill sets, not just technical skill sets, are required. The facility professional who maintains chillers and boilers is compelled to add new skills to their tool belts. To survive, directors must be able to engage in complex environments featuring disparate audiences.
I can’t help but recall a director’s comment made while we discussed the State of the Discipline, pre-COVID:
“I wear a whole bunch of hats and it’s only getting worse.”
Even Bartholomew Cubbins, he of Dr. Suess’ 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins fame, would have trouble balancing the multitude of hats facility management professionals must wear today.
Retirement, salary, geography and COVID-19
The implications of COVID-19 on facilities management for the long term are still not clear. In speaking with people from across the FM landscape, the quote “I wear a whole bunch of hats and it’s only getting worse,” may provide a clue to future demand. That is to say, do more, more, more.
But for now, relative to COVID-19’s immediate impact on the facility management pro, let’s focus on retirements, salaries, and geographies.
1) Retirements: The majority of facility management personnel are baby boomers. They are close to, if not passed, retirement age. Since late February/early March they have been working diligently to prepare their facilities and staff for a wave of patients. For many, fortunately, the wave never materialized. They prepared for the onslaught against a backdrop of decreasing budgets and furloughed, if not permanently eliminated, staff.
Impact: Many professionals were thinking of retirement and this crisis has moved up their retirement timeline. Assuming that their 401-K’s stay intact, many are physically spent and will depart by the end of 2020.
2) Salaries: Prior to COVID, the market was a candidate’s market. Most salaries were to at the top end of the salary range, and candidates had choices. If they did not receive the salary they wanted, they were prepared to say no. Many had multiple offers to consider.
Impact: Salaries will move back closer to, if not beneath, the salary midpoints. Candidate choice will be more limited. Part of the salary answer will also depend upon the next point, hospital geography.
3) Geographies: Initial questions I ask a professional include where do you want to live? Where do you want to work?
Their answers and rationales are as unique as their personalities. I have a professional friend who says Branson, MO (you know who you are!) is a preferred location, while others like Gulf Coast beaches. The most common answer? South of the Mason-Dixon line, where the weather is warm.
Impact: The pre-COVID workforce was willing to travel the country for a new role. But with continuing COVID shutdowns in large metro areas, it will be more difficult to find people willing to work in and near big cities. For example, those willing to uproot their family for an opportunity will decrease.
It’s an interesting time in history, so buckle up! If you want to see more interesting career content, please see our new Career Hub web site at
Take our COVID-19 Survey
In light of COVID-19, we were wondering how you and your facility have fared. We prepared a brief survey, and respondents have anonymity. The link is:
We will share the results with you, please see the following to participate….thanks!