Recruitment and retention have major impact on CMMS

Nov. 6, 2009
David Berger, P.Eng., contributing editor, says get more from your CMMS with effective recruiting and retention.

Most if not all companies would agree that a CMMS has little value without the people. After all, humans enter data, run reports, analyze results, and make plans and decisions based on output. Furthermore, most would say that the higher the quality of people using the CMMS, the more you can expect to get out of the system. Thus, hiring the best and brightest is a worthy goal to maximize your return on money invested in the CMMS.

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However, we all can’t hire the best and brightest. Unfortunately, some companies will be stuck with the worst and dumbest, and many will be drawing from the huge pool in between. So how does one increase the probability of attracting and retaining the best and brightest to gain competitive advantage?

Leadership: One of the strongest magnets for the best and brightest is the reputation that your company already has the best and brightest, and that it’s a great place to work. Mediocrity attracts mediocre workers, and an average work environment attracts average people. It can be frustrating for a bright new recruit with a positive attitude and lots of great ideas to be drowned in a sea of complacency or negativity. Of course, this doesn’t bode well for those of you starting from mediocre or average, looking to raise your standards.

The key is leadership. If you’re committed to excellence and raising the bar on service quality and performance, then great candidates will be attracted to your strong vision and enthusiasm. Bright people love challenges and want to be part of an exciting change process, especially if there’s an opportunity to learn and grow.


For example, the best and brightest typically crave any technology that supports them in their work, such as a CMMS. As well, the ability to get more out of a modern CMMS is a valuable and transferable skill worth cultivating as it provides a competitive advantage to both the company and the individual. The better workers won’t want to move to an environment where such tools are deliberately ignored or even worse, sabotaged.

Recruitment: The recruitment process can be critical in attracting the right talent, from placing a well-written ad in the right media, to the right tone and simplicity of the offer letter. Many companies’ failure to attract the right people seems to happen during the interview process. This is because of a number of possible failure points, such as when an interviewer:

  • Shows lack of preparedness on what to ask or expect in response
  • Is too junior
  • Does more talking than listening
  • Demonstrates a lack of respect, for example, keeping the candidate waiting, rushing through an interview or allowing disturbances such as phone calls, emails and visitors
  • Lacks passion about the company and the job
  • Is unable to respond to important questions that should be within their power to answer
  • Can’t convey a sense of the culture and work environment

Another critical component of recruitment that can be hugely beneficial for finding stronger candidates is testing. It’s surprising to see how infrequently this technique is used to weed out inappropriate or weaker candidates. All kinds of tests are available to evaluate intelligence, attitude, values, experience and technical ability. Testing combined with a solid interview process and rigorous reference checking dramatically increases the probability of finding the right person for the job.

Recruitment isn’t only about finding the best candidate, it’s also essential in setting expectations. In fact, the chance of frustrating or even losing a new hire skyrockets if expectations weren’t carefully explained during the interview process. For example, if a technician thought there would be administrative support to enter data into the CMMS, generate work orders and print reports, but instead technicians are expected to do these tasks on their own without generating any paper using mobile devices, there might be a problem. By conveying exactly what’s expected, both behaviorally and technically, you have a better chance of identifying candidates that will flourish in your environment.

Retention: Attracting and hiring the best and brightest is inconsequential if they can’t be retained. Whereas recruitment serves to create appropriate expectations on what constitutes success on the new job, retention is about managing those expectations. This can only be achieved by supporting the new hire in achieving company and personal objectives as expected.

Thus, the performance evaluation process is crucial for clarifying company and personal goals, objectives, performance measures and targets, and action items that define what success looks like from both the worker and company perspectives. For example, the company might expect a new worker to achieve PM compliance of 90% in some area of responsibility. To achieve that target, the worker might be expecting ready access to the assets when PMs are due.

Training is another example of an expectation that goes two ways. During recruitment, set an expectations that the company promotes the concept of a learning organization. That means employees are encouraged to stay current technically and are expected to expand or change their skills and competencies as business needs change.

From the worker’s perspective, there should be a diverse range of learning options, including subject matter, type of learning (classroom, self-study, computer-based, on-the-job training), location (internal vs. external), reimbursement and so on. Employees want company support in managing their career path. In turn, this leads to continued job satisfaction and remuneration that adequately reflects performance.

Whether a technician likes the status quo or wishes to become more multiskilled by picking up a complementary trade, become a production operator or move into a management position, you should be supporting them in doing so. Support starts with helping the technican determine where their interests and skills lie.

There are many other ways to increase retention of the top performers, including:

  • Implement a mentorship program to reduce generation gaps
  • Support a diversity program to ensure your workforce properly reflects your community and doesn’t become an “old boys club”
  • Offer services that appeal to the ever-changing needs of workers, such as overtime pay versus comp time or a flexible work schedule versus shift work
  • Encourage social activities organized at a grassroots level for building a strong, cohesive group
  • Have regular communication with workers individually and in groups
  • Adopt a meaningful reward and recognition program that encourages performance that exceeds expectation
  • Establish an apprenticeship program if the local labor pool is depleted

Get more out of your CMMS: With study after study showing the success rate in implementing information systems such as a CMMS hovering at about 50%, it’s clear that there is much room for improvement. Although hiring and retaining the best and brightest is no guarantee of success, there’s no question that setting and managing expectations makes a significant difference. If management sets and manages an expectation to get more out of the CMMS, then the best and brightest are most likely to make it happen.

E-mail Contributing Editor David Berger, P.Eng., partner, Western Management Consultants, at [email protected].

(Editor’s note: The Plant Services CMMS/EAM Software Review, at, provides a side-by-side comparison of more than a dozen popular software packages.)

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