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6 Different Ways To Motivate And Empower Your Maintenance Staff

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In its annual workplace poll, Gallup found that in 2019, the percentage of “engaged” workers in the US was around 35%.

Although that sounds like an improvement compared to a dismal 13% recorded in 2013, they still found that up to 52% percent of US workers are in the “not engaged” category. They are psychologically unattached to their work and they’ll put in time, but no energy or passion at work. They’ll contribute the barest minimum required, and constantly be looking out for better employment opportunities. Moreover, another 13% are “actively disengaged.” They have miserable work experiences and will likely spread their unhappiness to their colleagues

Time and again, it has been proven that motivation and empowerment are vital for driving continuous improvements and organizational success. However, many companies still fail to understand the importance of employee motivation, especially when it comes to the staff who keep things running behind the scenes – your maintenance team.

Like with any other group of employees, motivating and empowering maintenance staff is not an exact science. You may need to try different approaches before finding what works best. Below, we’ll discuss six tried-and-trusted ways to motivate and empower your maintenance team.

#1) Be clear on work expectations
Being honest about work demands is one of the best ways to ensure your team doesn’t get demotivated and disengaged because of the false expectations regarding their responsibilities. When hiring new technicians, don’t sugarcoat everything. Mention if there is work on the weekends, mention if there is overtime work, mention if there are many physical demanding tasks. The downsides of any work is much easier to get over if you see them coming.

All of that being said, the goals and responsibilities you set for your maintenance team should not be just clear, but also reasonable. You can’t expect people to have 20 hours of overtime every week and then be surprised that they aren’t happy with their job.

#2) Provide an enabling environment
Provide your maintenance department with the tools and resources that they will need to perform their job thoroughly and efficiently. Part of creating an enabling environment for quality work requires that you investigate your old work processes to spot hidden obstacles such as unrealistic timelines, inadequate or conflicting information, and other barriers that may have been hampering performance all along.

In addition, remember that maintenance work often comes with safety risks, and your staff know this. They will be more inclined to put in their best if they see that you have invested the resources to provide a safe workplace. This gives them the assurance that you care about human assets, not just the physical ones.

#3) Value their contributions
The importance of involving maintenance staff in your decision-making process cannot be overemphasized. Many of them have excellent ideas, ranging from money saving practices to operational improvements. They work directly on your facilities and equipment daily, so they are in the best position to offer valuable insights.

Normalize getting their buy-in on important matters and regularly consider their input before making major changes. Doing things this way acknowledges their efforts, helps build loyalty, encourages them to work even harder, and empowers them to offer even more advice. A great first step is for maintenance and facility managers to adopt an open door policy.

Another way to collect and analyze employee contributions is via employee engagement solutions and idea management solutions.

#4) Ensure a path for growth
You can motivate your maintenance staff to put in their best and encourage them to devote more years working for your organization if they see that there is room for growth via promotions, advancements, perks, etc.

Instead of hiring outside supervisors and maintenance managers, whenever possible, promote experienced technicians to supervisory roles. They have been working for a while there, they know the dynamic between people, and most importantly, they know the facility inside and out.

Many manufacturing facilities are already experiencing labor shortages. By showing technicians that they have a future at your organization, they will be less likely to leave and more likely to work harder towards that future.

#5) Understand their needs and wants
Communication is so valuable that sometimes, what you need to do is just take the time to ask staff what they need and want. Some technicians will value higher pay, most will to be honest. However, some might be more interested in more free days, prefer certain shifts over others, or the ability to attend paid courses where they can learn new skills.

If you do not ask beforehand, you may spend funds and time providing “A” for your team when what they wanted all along was “B.” To avoid these situations, try sending surveys and getting feedback from employees in order to understand and resolve the issues that they may be facing.

For instance, encourage managers to try and set aside some time twice a year to talk with the technicians to understand which types of rewards and motivators work best for them and what would they change in their daily work.

#6) Invest in continuous training
Aim to create an environment where there’s always something new and interesting to learn. There are so many training formats that you can use to achieve this such as frequent personalized training, mentor and mentee sessions (between more experienced vs. newer staff), self-paced learning and so on.

Continuous learning, rather than one-off training, will foster a culture of learning among your maintenance team. You’ll find that with time, team members will form a habit of encouraging one another to keep moving forward and become more empowered to handle the next set of challenges.

Bonus tip: Don’t forget to say thanks when everything is going well
We have heard many technicians complain how nobody appreciates them when everything is going well, but whenever there is a major breakdown, it is somehow always their fault.

It is easy to forget that there is someone working behind the scene when all assets are running smoothly. So, even in good times, do not forget to congratulate your maintenance team on a job well done!

About the Author:

Bryan Christiansen is the founder and CEO of Limble CMMS. Limble is a modern, easy to use mobile CMMS software that takes the stress and chaos out of maintenance by helping managers organize, automate, and streamline their maintenance operations.

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