COVID-19 crisis impacts facility management staffing and compensation
ASHE reports COVID-19-related staffing impacts through the COVID-19 Response Tactics Sharing survey project
The COVID-19 crisis halted daily health care facility projects and operations, and forced facilities management professionals to focus on emergency management and patient surge planning. Compounding this urgency was the fact that disease experts struggled to understand the virus, but linked transmission risk to surfaces and airflow patterns, particularly in health care environments. Facilities managers around the country sought out as much information as they could from experts in both the engineering and medical fields to help them configure appropriate clinical care spaces, determine their need for alternate care sites, and to quickly design, build, and make these sites ready for patients.
The ASHE website and My ASHE discussion boards saw a significant flurry of activity, where members exchanged information to help each other. Consequently, ASHE realized how valuable an accurate and complete catalog of COVID-19 crisis activity related to health facilities management (as well as potential costs) could be to members now and even after the pandemic. The information in this catalog would allow members to compare their COVID-19 response with others, share lessons learned and plan for future potential outbreaks.
ASHE’s COVID-19 Response Tactics Sharing (CRTS) survey and project gathers the data needed to create this catalog, synthesizes these data into actionable learnings and quickly shares it back with the ASHE community. The initial survey was launched in June 2020, and remained open for four weeks. One early CRTS analysis focused on the crisis’ impact on health facilities management staffing and employee earnings. The survey asked facilities managers to report staffing changes (layoffs, furloughs, reassignments, pay reductions) for their entire department, noting which roles were most impacted by each activity. The table below outlines these staff changes and reports the number of staff that were still impacted at the time of data collection.
It is clear that the COVID-19 crisis has influenced many aspects of peoples’ lives, including their daily activities and economic stability. The required “pause” on elective surgeries created a wave of staffing reductions that affected most roles in the hospital, including facilities.
The CRTS continues to collect facilities management-specific data during the pandemic to explore this issue, as well as other factors important to facilities management emergency preparedness and recovery. Understanding the true economic impact on our field is just one piece of the puzzle of which the CRTS will explore and provide reporting.
Facilities management professionals can participate in the CRTS by clicking here. In addition, facilities management professionals that have already taken the survey, but wish to update their responses because they have experienced new surge activity can contact ASHE’s researcher at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This report is the first in a series of updates on the CRTS project. A special report — the COVID-19 Response Tactics Sharing document — will be available for member review in the coming weeks.
Lisa Walt, Ph.D. is a senior research analyst at American Society for Health Care Engineering.
COVID-19 resources for health care facilities
This timely ASHE resource page covering emergency preparedness, infection control and more assists health care facilities managers in their efforts to reduce the spread of COVID-19 by keeping the physical environment safe.View COVID-19 Resources