• 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.

    AUTHOR

    Stuart O'Brien

    All stories by: Stuart O'Brien

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