Despite the slowly recovering economy and sea of health care policy changes implemented in recent years, salaries continue to rise for Health Facilities Management (HFM) readers — some modestly and others by more substantial margins.

While pay for facilities and construction managers has shown healthy increases since 2012, compensation for environmental services managers showed a big leap — a jump experts say could be tied to health care’s increasing focus on infection control and patient satisfaction and an overall increase in key job responsibilities.

Between 2012 and 2015, environmental services/housekeeping increased 8.0 percent to $74,632, while construction/project management rose 5.3 percent to an average $118,139, and facilities management/operations/engineering increased by 3.4 percent to $98,950. These figures are based on a survey of management compensation conducted by HFM in cooperation with the American Society for Healthcare Engineering (ASHE) and the Association for the Healthcare Environment (AHE).

The average salary stretching across a variety of job categories encompassed by the survey has risen from $90,659 in 2012 to $95,873 in 2015 — an increase of 5.8 percent over 3 years or 1.9 percent annually.

The online survey was conducted in March and April among health care organizations and members of ASHE and AHE. A total of 1,772 people responded, making for an overall margin of error of plus or minus 5 percent.

By contrast, the last HFM survey, which covered 2009 to 2012, showed that environmental services managers were at the bottom of the totem pole, averaging a 2 percent raise to $69,111, while construction managers’ salaries increased 7 percent to an average of $112,190 and facilities managers’ pay rose by 4 percent to $95,698.

Dramatic changes

The 2015 numbers may be tied in part to the dramatic changes many hospitals are undergoing on a number of fronts. More than a third of those surveyed work in organizations that have been involved in mergers and consolidations, which often means a reduction in directors/managers, leaving remaining staff to absorb those job duties. For environmental services managers, at least, the increasing workload seems to have translated into modest increases in salaries to compensate for the duty increase, says Patti Costello, executive director of AHE. “We hope this trend continues in an effort to retain the best environmental services leadership.”

“It appears some organizations are better compensating environmental services for assuming a larger role,” Costello continues. “We are seeing managers taking on responsibilities for food service, transport, safety, security and many other areas directly linked to patient satisfaction, and many are also responsible for more than one campus.

“However, it remains apparent environmental services still lags behind other disciplines when it comes to compensation,” she adds. “With better reporting of environmental services metrics, we hope to see that change.”

One expert describes the environmental services surge as a “catching-up” period. “Environmental services is what facilities management was like 10 to 15 years ago,” says Jack Gosselin, FASHE, CHFM, a former hospital facilities manager who runs a Mystic, Conn.-based recruiting firm. “Environmental services is playing a much bigger role with the patient experience, infection control and facility image … . Organizations are appreciating the value of good environmental leadership.”

Construction and facilities management increases are above the average rate of inflation and will continue to increase in tandem with the significant responsibility added to their roles, says Dale Woodin, senior executive director, ASHE. Performance metrics will become even more critical to salaries and bonuses, he adds. “Performance metrics are an area where facilities managers can move the needle and really identify aggressive goals, share them with leadership and hit these goals,” Woodin says.

“Our members have the dual responsibility of maintaining an optimal environment for patients and staff that meets all of the regulatory requirements, while also identifying opportunities to reduce their costs in an effort to better support patient care. This could be the reason we are seeing more hospitals recruit Certified Healthcare Facility Managers (CHFMs) to manage their facilities, which could be a driver of the modest 3.4 percent salary increase between 2012 and 2015,” adds Patrick Andrus, CAE, deputy executive director, operations, ASHE.

Hospitals continue to reward those professional certifications, including CHFM and Certified Healthcare Environmental Services Professional (CHESP), with higher salaries, the survey shows (see sidebar, Page 23). Other trends include a significant “graying” of the facilities professional worker and a growing connection between bonuses and performance metrics/HCAHPS scores.