Benchmarking maintenance staffing

August 2019 — Benchmarking data can be used to determine the appropriate staffing levels for maintenance, janitorial and security operations. In this article we are going to focus on the maintenance staffing.

For many organizations on a calendar-fiscal year basis, August and September are budget submittal time. Since labor costs generally comprise the largest component of the maintenance budget, usually between 75 and 85 percent, FMs are often asked to justify their maintenance staffing levels. Benchmarked comparisons can be a valuable tool to help with justification questions. Even if you are not being asked to justify your budget it makes sense to get a good benchmark of what others in similar organizations are doing. One of the most overlooked aspects of benchmarking is its use to analyze staffing levels for facilities.

Using benchmarking comparisons also shows the importance of the FM position in the organization and the impact of staffing decisions over the lifecycle of the building.  Without good benchmarking comparisons you may not realize that staffing levels may need to be increased or decreased to maintain the facility properly. A case can be made easily for benchmarking that will justify the minor amount of staff time needed to develop the data.

Several examples illustrate how easy the process is. This approach will allow you obtain the key output reports in the minimum amount of time. Comparing your maintenance staffing levels with all types of facilities may give you the wrong perspective on your performance. In the following example we will compare only office facilities with an area that similar to “ours.”

For maintenance staffing the Figure 1 below shows:

  • First quartile performance of 73K GSF per FTE worker.
  • Median performance of 65K GSF per FTE worker.
  • Third quartile performance of 50K GSF per FTE worker.
Figure 1 – Area Maintained per FTE Maintenance Worker Filters: Type of facility (Office); Gross area 125,000 to 250,000 square feet Provided courtesy of FM BENCHMARKING

Figure 1 – Area Maintained per FTE Maintenance Worker
Filters: Type of facility (Office); Gross area 125,000 to 250,000 square feet
Provided courtesy of FM BENCHMARKING

Our facility’s staffing level is shown on the yellow line, at the first quartile position, at 73K GSF per FTE worker. From this data we would conclude that our facility is staffed properly.

How they are allocated among the trades would depend in part on the quality of the construction. You would most likely staff for a combination of electricians, HVAC/mechanical, controls, and general trades. Using benchmarking data in this way provides a rational and easily defended approach to developing a staffing plan.

Perhaps the age of the facility may have an impact on the staffing levels. Newer facilities usually operate at a slightly lower costs and have more technology to identify maintenance issues. Our building is six years old so let’s compare it with a similar peer group.

In the chart below you can see that the median staffing level decreased slightly. Our staffing is in the mid-second quartile and not significantly different than was shown shown in Figure 1.

Figure 2 – Area Maintained per FTE Maintenance Worker Filters: Type of facility (Office); Gross area 125,000 to 600,000 square feet; Age 4-10 years Provided courtesy of FM BENCHMARKING

Figure 2 – Area Maintained per FTE Maintenance Worker
Filters: Type of facility (Office); Gross area 125,000 to 600,000 square feet; Age 4-10 years
Provided courtesy of FM BENCHMARKING

The benchmarking comparisons show our staffing is just about right and we ready to answer any management questions regarding our staffing levels.

Articles are based on data from FM BENCHMARKING, the online benchmarking tool for facilities managers and CREs. Data tracked by FM BENCHMARKING includes cost data (utilities, maintenance, custodial, security), sustainability data, and best practices. For more information, go to www.fmbenchmarking.com.

FM BENCHMARKING is a collaboration between Facility Issues and FMLink.