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Andrew Preston shares his 2017 predictions for the FM sector

Andrew Preston, CEO of de Poel, looks to the year ahead – sharing his predictions with Facilities Management Journal (FMJ) on what 2017 has in store for the FM sector.

The Facilities Management (FM) market is increasingly competitive, currently estimated to be worth £111 billion a year to the UK economy – and described as a barometer of the economy, by British Institute of Facilities Management (BIFM).

In what are challenging but exciting times, FM continues to create unlimited opportunities for those providers taking proactive steps to adapt to evolving customer needs – and the talent required to make this happen and keep services running around the clock.

However, the only constant is change. In the continued war for talent in a dynamic sector that never sleeps, FM is grappling with a raft of challenges; including the perturbing skills shortage, life cycle sustainability, providing socially responsible solutions, harnessing innovative technologies and delivering higher service levels with less resource. With this in mind, the New Year marks a particularly apt time for FM providers to take stock and consider their New Year’s recruitment resolutions.

Conducting an end-of-year 2016 snapshot analysis of nearly 8,000 workers and utilising their market intelligence from working with a wide range of key FM providers, de Poel gathered some interesting findings. From this, we have identified five key questions for FM providers to consider, when it comes to their 2017 recruitment strategies.

Should you outsource?

A number of pioneering FM providers are adopting an innovative and strategic approach when it comes to managing a diverse, temporary workforce able to expand and contract, in a sector operating in a constant state of flux.

This new approach enlists the expertise of their counterparts in the recruitment outsourcing world. Recruitment outsourcing specialists, like de Poel, act as neutral intermediaries, optimising the relationship between their client organisations i.e. ‘hirers’ and the recruitment agencies that supply talent. This transforms the way in which temporary workforces are procured and managed, with significant – and tangible – efficiencies and improvements as a result, allowing busy FM providers to refocus their time and energy elsewhere.

Can more be done to create a gender balance?

Procuring a diverse pool of temporary workers on behalf of their FM client base throughout 2016, de Poel has seen first-hand that there is a growing gender rebalance in some roles within ‘soft’ FM including finance, passenger aid, concierge and administration.

In this same industry snapshot, within the under 21 age bracket in particular, there is a 53/46% male-female split, going some way toward dispelling the myth that FM is a “man’s world” – and proving that our FM leaders of tomorrow comprise of an increasingly gender-equal cohort. This is similar within the 21-30 age bracket, where the male-female split has levelled to 59/41% respectively, compared to 64/36% last year.

It cannot be denied that gender diversity drives innovation, improves performance and helps organisations win the war on talent. With this clear business case, there is no better time than the present to create a greater level of gender diversity in FM. But the question is, what will it take to further move the needle, in a substantive way?

The FM providers leading the way are those organisations proactively making diversity a part of their workplace culture – not simply paying lip service – and implementing programmes and initiatives that foster career development, with equal opportunities for all.

How can FM veterans be retained in ‘soft’ FM roles?

According to a recent survey by International Facility Management Association (IFMA), the average facilities management professional is 49 years old; and 50% of this workforce is expected to retire within the next 5-15 years.

However, according to de Poel’s industry snapshot, there has been a resurgence of older workers employed on a temporary basis in some ‘soft’ FM roles such as customer service and cleaning– also with a 23% increase of ‘over 50s’ in engineering/mechanical roles, when compared to 2015.

These FM veterans are matching in experience and know-how what our future FM leaders have in raw talent – making for an eclectic, skills and experience-rich workforce that can positively impact bottom line and be reflective of any FM provider’s client base.

To read the FMJ article in full, please click here.