Do you worry about a breaking point being reached by frontline hospital facilities leadership and tradespeople? A point at which they say no more, I’m done with facilities?

Many do.

Even in normal times, the facility’s role is one that can wake you out of your sleep. Keep you up till the sun rises.  

And directors I regularly speak with say the issue is becoming worse: They wake up and stay up. Their mind races with what they need to do. Or what they have not done. Or the money they don’t have to remedy facility issues. Their sleep is gone. They say they see no relief on the horizon. 

Our latest High Reliability podcast, FM roundtable, Halloween special: What keeps you up at night?, features a roundtable of experienced facility leaders. One of the topics we discussed was burnout and salaries. Highlighting our guest comments:

Claire Meeks

I think burnout is something when you look at healthcare professionals in general; healthcare facilities teams are probably not alone in that feeling. Is this a breaking point? How much can I handle? 

I suspect it’s one of the reasons why we see so many healthcare enterprises joining forces or becoming part of a system. There are many reasons (to expand), one of which is that it allows smaller facilities or smaller systems to leverage the resources and expertise of the broader group. If it’s a small hospital they may not have the FTE allotment or the specialists. As part of the broader group, you see justification (or access) to more FTEs or an HVAC specialist, just as an example. 

I also think we are redefining normal chaos. That’s how I would always describe it, normal. There’s chaos, and then there’s normal chaos. I definitely empathize with the burnout sentiment. You know, “I literally have a fire, and now I need to go do this other thing as well.”

It’s tough.

Cory Majszak

I like that sentiment, and I think it’s incredibly accurate.  

To be a manager, you have to have a level of, or you grow into, caring. You want to improve things around you. But variables exist. You know, it’s a catch-22 of what got you? You try to spin so many plates, but those plates, they start to wobble. That’s what keeps you up at night, and I think that’s what gets you.

That’s where the challenge and the burnout come from, and that’s difficult because these problems are always going to exist. There will always be new ones. It’s finding ways to manage it with your team, with your peers, through your professional engineering groups, and with your mentors.

Vance Vinson

Well, I’m coming at it from a little bit different angle. From my perspective, I think the brain drain (experienced people leaving FM) is a little bit, burnout is a little bit, but then a lot of bit is the compensation. 

I’m not just talking (about salaries) at the director level or the vice president level. I’m talking about all of us, hourly folks too. I can tell you in the 4 years that I have been here, the majority of people that I’ve lost have been from compensation. It really truly falls down to the dollar. We make it a great place to work, and that has value. But at the end of the day, people ask, is what I’m making equal to the value I provide?

Survey says Vance is correct

Earlier this Fall, Gosselin/Martin Associates conducted a market survey. One of the questions asked was, what are the most significant issues facing health care facilities management today?

There were multiple answers to choose from. The most selected answer at 86% was staff shortages in the trades. The second most popular? 68% said salaries are not adequate for the scope of the role.  

So staff shortages and salaries appear to be linked.

G/MA Nuggets

1) Sign up for the Gosselin/Martin free Fall Education Series here

2) Download and subscribe to our High Reliability podcast, the only podcast in the industry dedicated exclusively to the unique discipline of healthcare facilities management.

3) See the roles we are recruiting for here.