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Brexit

IWFM publishes Brexit advice for employers

The Institute of Workplace & Facilities Management (IWFM) has pulled together a guide that outlines the key forthcoming changes to immigration and employment post-Brexit.

Immigration has played a key role in helping to address the growing skills gap in FM, with migrants filling one in four jobs in some sectors.

The trade body says that after Brexit, the ending of free movement of people from the EEA (EU countries plus Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein) plus Switzerland, coupled with the Government’s proposed new immigration policy, will have profound consequences for employers needing to fill vital roles in cleaning, security, catering, construction and across the whole profession.

It has therefore outlined the key forthcoming changes to immigration rules, the dates when they come into effect and how they will affect the 3.7 million EEA citizens already living in the UK as well as those looking to come here to work.

You can download the full document here. It outlines both ‘deal’ and ‘no deal’ scenarios and the permutations of each for FM employers.

GUEST BLOG: Facilities Management firms need to streamline efficiencies ahead of Brexit

By Drey Francis, Director at Engage Technology Partners

While the Brexit ‘deal’ remains up in the air and the uncertainty continues for UK businesses, employers in the Facilities Management field are understandably nervous.

As an arena that has undoubtedly been heavily reliant on European talent to fill demand in a skills short environment, the potential to have an increasingly limited pool of staff to tap into is certainly a concern.

In fact, our recent pay data revealed that the Brexit vote has had a direct impact on hourly rates as businesses look to retain staff. According to the statistics, since the vote to leave the Bloc in 2016, hourly pay for skills-short roles has increased, with maintenance positions in particular noting an uptick in money. Handymen and mechanical maintenance professionals reported the greatest increase in the three years since the vote at 13% and 10% respectively, while electricians saw a 5% rise in hourly rates.

Given how sparse some of the talent for these roles is in general, it’s perhaps no wonder that employers are turning to financial incentives to attract staff. However, this isn’t a sustainable approach.

Of course, we still need to wait and see what happens in terms of the agreement on the Freedom of Movement for the UK, but action can be taken now to improve staffing efficiencies in order to better cope with the expected upheaval in Spring 2019.

So where can FM businesses streamline activity to better weather the storm that lies ahead?

Identify the right areas to improve

There’s long been a trend across the industry to limit supplier margins in order to reduce expenditure – a tactic that many will likely turn to as times get tough. However, the true results of this approach aren’t as impactful as you might perhaps be led to believe, and I would argue that this isn’t a sustainable strategy in a talent short market.

Margins have long been on a downward trajectory in recruitment, but when you consider that you ‘get what you pay for’, is this really the right tactic? Yes, identifying where there are inconsistencies in mark-ups will be a beneficial cost-cutting exercise, but only if done while also looking at the wider picture.

In my view, the greatest area of improvement across Facilities Management lies in the often lengthy and quite frankly, inefficient, administrative, recording and resourcing processes. Too often there is a lack of automation and data sharing that is causing significant ‘wastage’ in FM operations.

For example, compliance checks can often be duplicated as information is not stored in one centralised location. Resourcing mangers can also face budget overruns due to inefficient record keeping, with off-PSL agencies used to fill last minute demands when in fact the required staff could be found in other areas of the business. And with many recording tools often being used separate to payroll systems, the entire resourcing management process can become overly complex and the chance of errors occurring is increased.

Don’t forget the candidate experience

Perhaps more importantly, without a truly joined up approach, many candidates and employees are facing an experience that perhaps doesn’t resonate well with their expectations. With budgets pushed lower, the risk for people to be treated as commodities rather than the valued individuals that they are is increased.

And, of course, the limitations of some administrative processes can see staff paid late or not enough due to timesheet or filing errors. The result is a disgruntled workforce that is less engaged with your business and subsequently, more likely to steer clear of your business in the future. A less than ideal situation given that automating admin processes can often be relatively simple to implement.

And herein lies the biggest consideration for FM businesses: how much is it costing you to find out how much it costs? With a disjointed administrative process, it is arguably costing decision makers to find out where there are budget overruns and where savings can be made. All in all, money is being spent to look at how money can be saved, before any concrete action is taken.

But that doesn’t have to be the case – often it is the small efficiencies that can have the greatest impact.

For FM businesses, now really is the time to look at developing a joined-up approach to resource management before the chaos of Brexit truly hits home.

FM sector increases hourly pay for skills-short roles as Brexit looms

Facilities management firms are turning to financial incentives to lure top contract talent as the Brexit vote drives EU citizens out of the UK, according to new data.

Engage Technology Partners says its pay data has revealed that since the vote to leave the Bloc in 2016, hourly pay for skills-short roles has increased, with maintenance positions in particular noting an uptick in money.

Handymen and mechanical maintenance professionals reported the greatest increase in the three years since the vote at 13% and 10% respectively, while electricians saw a 5% rise in hourly rates.

This data has been revealed amid news from the CIPD that talent shortages are already being felt ahead of the UK’s exit from the EU next year. According to its latest Labour Market Outlook report, a third of employers of EU citizens have reported that the Brexit decision has led to an exodus of these professionals from their UK base.

Drey Francis, Director at Engage, said: “For Facilities management firms, maintaining reliable access to a team of maintenance professionals was already an issue before the Brexit vote. Since the decision was made to exit the EU, this issue has deteriorated further, with many of the FM firms we have a relationship with reporting that availability of these professionals is one of their biggest concerns going in to 2019.

“Given how sparse some of the talent for these roles is in general, it’s perhaps no wonder that employers are turning to financial incentives to attract staff. However, this isn’t a sustainable approach. Of course, we still need to wait and see what happens in terms of the agreement on the Freedom of Movement for the UK, but action can be taken now to improve staffing efficiencies in order to better cope with the expected upheaval in Spring 2019. For example, where FM businesses have widespread operations, there are often resources that can be utilised in other locations, but a lack of visibility of this information is preventing hiring managers from tapping into these staffing pools.”

UK & EU energy firms voice Brexit concerns in open letter

UK and EU companies have united in calling for strong action in the Brexit agreement on climate and energy to foster prosperity and enhance abilities to tackle climate change.

In an open letter to European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and UK Prime Minister Theresa May no-deal Brexit scenario, they say, would lead to an increase in UK energy bills, undermine action on climate change and threaten the supply chains of strategically important industries such as offshore wind, electric vehicles and battery technology.

The group, which includes France’s EDF Energy, trade body Energy UK, Unilever and others, says it’s in the clear commercial interests of the UK and EU to maintain standards and rules as close as possible to those we have now.

It says: “The continued implementation of the Paris Agreement on climate change is essential to provide clear, long term and stable signals to guide business investment in low carbon infrastructure. To achieve this, the EU27 and the UK need to ensure that the Facilitative Dialogue process results in strong global climate ambitions without undermining economic growth. It will be important for the EU27 and the UK to demonstrate international leadership by cooperating in exploring long term emission targets early in this process to catalyse increased ambitions from other countries. In this regard, we recognise that both the EU Commission and the UK Government see long term net-zero GHG emissions targets as a vital element of the Paris Agreement. We would welcome further guidance on how this could be achieved at the 24th Conference of Parties (COP) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, in December this year.”

You can read the full letter here.

The open letter reflects earlier warnings from a House of Lords committee and other energy professionals, who are widely acknowledging that any new friction on energy trading between the UK and EU could push up household bills, particularly if a ‘no deal’ Brexit scenario comes to pass.

Guest Blog, Cathy Hayward: FM in 2016 – what we’ve learnt and 2017 predictions…

The end of a calendar year provides the perfect opportunity for lines to be drawn, and predictions forecast. And while 2016 will largely be remembered for the number of famous lives it took, the surprise Brexit decision and election of Donald Trump, there were also more positive developments in the FM and workplace sector.

This year saw the word wellbeing become part of the workplace lexicon and that’s only going to intensify in 2017. Workplace design will focus on creating less sedentary work practices, says Adrian Powell, director at office design and build firm Active, through encouraging movement around the office space. “Companies recognise this will lower absenteeism and help to attract talent. Employees are certainly more educated now about healthy living and have become much more health conscious. Companies also realise that workplace stress is a massive health issue, so designing and creating a healthier and more relaxed environment will create true benefit.”

Powell predicts a real emphasis on ‘teams’, continuing the theme of collaboration spaces which took centre stage in 2016. “Employers are beginning to recognise that companies structured into high performing teams are enabling themselves to compete and win! This will be pushed for by millennials and gen Z workers who have grown up playing team sports, who may have the same expectations of their office.”

With a growing millennial workplace population, technological innovations will continue to make a major impact on the FM world. There will be more connection, more automation, and more significant impact in business and investment than ever before. “Service companies will need to be more technology savvy in the delivery of services and production of management information, as technology is shaping the human life at a rapid pace and service delivery needs to keep a pace with that ‘instant’ culture,” says Glen Cardinal, managing director of Platinum Facilities and Maintenance Services.  But he acknowledges that there’s a balance to be had with old fashion face-to-face customer relationships.

The Internet of Things which started being talked about in 2016 will become more affordable and be used by leading organisations to support enhanced workplace experiences. That’s the prediction of Andrew Mawson, founder and MD of Advanced Workplace Associates. And it’s backed up by Andrew Sugars, director of corporate development at Servest Group. “Data analytics and IoT will be more entrenched in FM’s way of thinking, in terms of helping the decision making process of where to direct their focus. The move from service focused KPIs to enhancing customer experience metrics will be driven predominantly through apps, that are changing the way end users interact day to day with their work environment.”

2017 will yield even more integration of CAFM and other systems within a building, adds Gary Watkins, CEO of CAFM provider Service Works Group.  “Effective management of the facilities lifecycle is often cited as an enterprise’s second largest expense, and system integration will allow better access to information, with intelligent workflows automating processes for high efficiency.  We expect data across all applications to be standardised, driving the market forward in areas such as automated guided vehicles, increasing productivity and work place safety.” Watkins also forecasts increased mobility, the rise of ruggedised devices, more wearable technology, increased location-based services and bigger big data.

There will also be a fundamental shift in service delivery models. Traditional FM service delivery models are going to come under increased pressure following the uncertainty of the Brexit decision, the recent election of Donald Trump as US president, Government policies around the apprenticeship levy, the new minimum wage level and the pressure, in the public sector at least, to involve SMEs in the supply chain.

“We are going to see more innovation around FM models, particularly for organisations with large property portfolios,” says Colin Kenton, managing director, FM services at KBR. “The Integrator model, whereby one outsourced organisation offers the client a cohesive solution by integrating process, technology, reporting and performance measurement/management across all service providers in the supply chain, will gain ground,” he predicts. This matured and adapted version of the managing agent model provides the client with a stand-alone matrix of processes, resources, skills and knowledge to manage all of its services, which crucially, meet their specific needs. Its innate flexibility responds well in changing economic and political times.

There will be further consolidation in the FM supply base, as service providers become unprofitable after further cost cutting. That’s the prediction from AWA’s Andrew Mawson. “Meanwhile larger SMEs and more thoughtful occupiers will seek out boutique FM supply companies to provide more innovative partnership based ‘workplace management’ services.”

With all these changes, there will be a major push by companies to attract and retain the top talent in the industry, forecasts Dave Kentish from people development specialists Kentish and Co. “This means that they will have to invest in developing people within their business and making sure they get known for being the company to work for. It’s all about growing your own.”

That’s certainly something that Nikki Dallas, MD and founder of FM recruitment business Talent FM, agrees with. She forecasts a need for more project management and space management professionals once the timetable for Brexit is known and banks and other financial services firms decide if they’re leaving or staying in London.  There will also be a demand for UK qualified talent in the Middle East with Expo 2020 Dubai and the FIFA World Cup in Qatar in 2022. “These large events require an improvement in infrastructure which means more need for built environment and FM professionals,” she predicts.  

What’s clear is the ramifications of the big decisions of 2016 are going to be felt throughout next year and beyond, but the enthusiasm for the FM sector to innovate, grasp the nettle of new technology and new service delivery models will ensure it triumphs over any further adversity.

 

Cathy Hayward is a communications specialist with over 18 years’ experience in a range of journalistic and marketing roles. She founded Magenta in 2011 after 13 years as a business journalist where she launched FM World and edited Charity Finance as well as working on titles such as Financial Management, Supply Management, Unions Today, Marketing Week, Soccer Analyst and Director.

Higher Education estates turnover reaches record £30 billion…

An annual report released by the Association of University Directors of Estates (AUDE) has revealed the university estates sector grew by £2 billion in the 2014-2015 academic year, with annual turnover for the whole of the UK now equating to £30 billion.

Despite what is considered a challenging funding environment, the ‘Higher Education Estates Statistics Report 2016’ details the evolving profile of the university estate. Capital expenditure grew by 5.6 per cent across the UK, which AUDE predicts is driven by investment as the sector continues to improve with the knowledge that staff members and students expect high quality and attractive facilities.

Expansion of university estates was also acknowledged. Individually, the universities of Cambridge, Manchester, Oxford, Edinburgh and Nottingham all have academic estates in excess of 500,000 square metres, excluding residential accommodation.

Trevor Humphreys, AUDE chair and director of Estates and Facilities at the University of Surrey, said:Universities have been through a period of significant upheaval and the sector should be commended on its robust management and efficiency strategies, which continue to serve it well.

“However, the future remains uncertain as we try to plan for the impact of the HE White Paper currently going through Parliament. Brexit is also likely to affect our student demographic, our workforce, our costs, as well as research funding.”

Total property costs have also remained relatively level for the past six to seven years, moving from £95 to £98 per square metre, indicating that the sector is committed to driving efficiency.

Brexit vote behind confidence dip in energy efficiency…

The latest EEVS & Bloomberg report has suggested that supplier confidence in the energy efficiency sector has fallen to its lowest point in five years; detailing a combination of supplier order books, sales prices, government action and staffing levels had experienced an overall confidence fall to (-) 38 points for the second quarter (Q2) of 2016.

This follows a decline of 21 points in the previous quarter to (-) 4; the most significant drop since the trends survey commenced in 2012. 

Furthermore, it is thought that sector confidence has also been hit by the UK’s decision to leave the EU, with a Bloomberg EEVS survey conducted before the vote indicated both suppliers and consumers in energy efficiency favoured a remain vote prior to the outcome on June 23. 

 

View the full report here