Grow Your Own
fmME investigates why recruitment is becoming increasingly important
The word “people” is becoming increasingly important in the FM industry with companies heavily investing time and money in training and development procedures for their workforces.
“People are the most important asset of a company,” explains Dr. Assem Al Hajj, academic head of the School of the Built Environment, Heriot-Watt University.
“Investing in them will always be good for a company as well as for the industry as a whole. There are always new innovations in the construction and property industry; new knowledge, technology, systems and processes.
Therefore, it is essential to keep FM professionals informed and up to date. Developing people’s skills should be a strategy not only for a company but for the industry, and even the country,” he adds.
Danielle Le Faucheur, senior associate, Macdonald and Company, says it’s always best to consult a professional recruitment consultancy when considering hiring.
“Ultimately, the recruitment company is there to save a business time and money by assessing the incumbent’s reasoning behind moving and ensuring their longevity with their new company. Investing time and money into recruitment will be far more cost effective in the long term than not.”
Lauren Backhouse, principal consultant at Randstad adds that even a large multi-national company with a particularly strong HR element could benefit from consultancy input, especially its market knowledge.
In addition a consultancy can afford to focus a significant portion of time and energy in finding the right candidate whereas the organisation may not be able to.
“We do this day in day out – a lot of the big organisations might not focus so strongly on FM and would recruit from a multi-disciplinary point of view,” she says.
“Although we are living through one of the toughest recessions, it’s still important to invest in training and developing existing staff. This will build greater resilience, longevity and will make the business more attractive to clients and candidates.”
But finding the right man for the job can prove challenging if you don’t outline exactly what you want.
“It’s imperative that a client provides us with a job description from the outset then meets with us to discuss the role in as much detail as possible. We can then find candidates that are not only technically suitable but also culturally.
It is essential for companies to be as transparent as possible to ensure they attract the right people and they have all of the information required so there are no nasty surprises upon joining thus leaving within a short time frame,” says Le Faucheur.
Nicola Ablett, director of Ablett FZE, says companies must go right back to basics and look at assessment processes and criteria for the role, even prior to placing the ad.
“Sometimes, in this region, we don’t spend enough time in the actual preparation before we place an advertisement.”
Youssef Abillama, CEO of MMG, adds that poor investment in the start will end up costing more in the long run.
Nurturing your plant
“Within any company, bad hires are costly, because of the need to reinvest in the hiring process and new employee training, and we always want to ensure that this doesn’t happen,” says Abillama.
While developing candidates already on board can drive cost management, it also benefits the company in terms of its appearance to clients, adds Emily Anderson, senior consultant at Randstad.
“If the company wins a contract with a client and six months later they are awarded another element of the contract by the same client, the client does notice if the same staff aren’t on this contract. They recognise that change management and see that there is no flow.”
But the people, whether hired for talent or fit, have to appear trainable if they are to align themselves with the company’s culture.
“Some companies hire employees with talent or expertise and build the company around the collective abilities of the employees, whereas others hire employees that are the best fit for the organisation’s established ways of doing things.
Generally, both the company and employees benefit when a new hire is a match of ability, interest and cultural fit,” says Abillama.
“The benefits of training are intangible.Investing in training benefits both the organisation and employees. Training enhances a worker’s level of skills. It provides satisfaction, which is an intrinsic motivator. Training also provides an organisation with multi skilled employees and increases an employee’s commitment to their job and their organisation,” he adds.
Emcor Facilities Services (EFS) recently launched a training centre designed to fast track the development of its workforce.
“Training our employees and developing their skills can improve the chances of success and business growth in these recessionary times,” explains Cynthia Castelino, training and development specialist. “As the FM function continues to evolve, so does the range of responsibilities and the methods employed to deliver services, hence training becomes a critical medium to ensure the end results are superior and sustainable.”
“The advantage of in-house training is that it can be tailored and scheduled to fit within our business needs. With our own training centre, we can conduct simultaneous training programs relating to different subjects. This translates into larger number of people being trained in a set time-frame,” adds Castelino.
While QBG has already launched a training facility, it is planning to set up further facilities in the countries it recruits from, designed to provide vocational training soft skills development before offering successful candidates employment with the company in that country.
“Once they meet the standard we are looking for, we can transfer them to our company overseas,” says Sharma. “This allows that particular country to address its unemployment problems strategically, us to create our own resource or product, and the country where the employee came from, to benefit economically through his/her salary remittance.
But training does pose a challenge and strategies and policies vary hugely from company to company. Often, development is considered for top level staff but not necessarily for floor staff.
“There are masses of leadership programs, but people forget about the day to day operational staff,” says Ablett. “A lot of the organisations are self focused, not customer focused. It’s a whole change management process. We need to stop and address the situation and then restart.
“Some companies make that investment, others don’t value their employees enough and believe they can pick up staff as and when they choose. Of course there are cost implications to this which don’t seem to be considered. Even in this current climate, people are choosing – they are looking for security and investment and they want to be loyal and feel valued,” says Ablett.
Anderson adds it is rare to find a client who willingly offers training, something that would make recruitment an easier sell.
“Even in-house training can really boost a candidate’s willingness to join and stay in a company. Where a company offers in house training, you’ll notice a candidate has stayed longer, because he/she has had time invested in their development.”
Of course staff may not always come with the right skillset. Sharma said it is the attitude that is important. QBG services desires to take on labourers left stranded after company closures as part of its CSR.
“Of the few hundred that are available, maybe 30-40 would be interested in continuing work here. Particularly since many have remortgaged land and sold family jewellery just to get the loan to come here [region],” says CEO Deepak Sharma.
Sharma says companies should consider looking within this local pool of resources for staffing solutions, in order to boost the economy and save workers the hassle of getting visas cancelled and returning home empty handed. QBG is looking to absorb at least 400 of these resources. But in this situation, it is inevitable that available staff might not come with the desired skill-set.
“Attitude is important. If someone is willing to learn and earn, it is always of benefit. We are a growing organisation and you will grow with us.” Backhouse agrees, adding that FM is all about personality.
“FM is very much based on personality as well as technical ability. Therefore to really understand the company culture and fits, is an essential part of the process we need to maintain when developing our relationship with both the client and the candidate.”
Ideally the right people are picked at recruitment, but, says Sharma, willing staff can be adapted to fit other roles.“A welder in one organisation or AC contractor in my organisation is essentially the same thing. We are conscious there are categories for which we cannot offer employment, but we try to adjust staff into something else they feel comfortable in,” he says.
Following a rigorous interview and induction process, MESG devises a list of short and long term training requirements. This is then supported with regular quality audits of site staff. Those falling short of expectations, receive a customised training programme whether on site or off-site.
Own your success
“Training that is focused, relevant and imparts practical knowledge that can be retained [is essential]. One must ensure training is more visual and hands-on in an actual setting as opposed to classrooms,” explains Rohit Dalmia, CEO, Middle East Services Group.
MMG believes staff that can monitor their own progress are more successful in their development. The company introduced a scorecard initiative, focusing clearly on company objectives and priorities. These are then cascaded on to the individual projects based on contractual alignments with more details that cover all aspect of project management.
“The overall aim for our training strategy is the creation and delivery of a high quality training programme that empowers and significantly increases the skill and/or knowledge of the business,” says Abillama.
And key performance indicators (KPIs) are an essential part of this, adds Abillama.
“Over the last 13 years, and with hundreds of projects completed, we have found that KPIs [...] are a good way to pinpoint the key measures, and therefore the skills we need our people to develop. We have used this as a way of establishing excellent, practical, training to ensure we deliver what our customers want and need.
MESG measures its KPIs through low turnover figures, a sustainable number of promotions exercised and implementation of a 360° feedback system, while EFS puts personal development plans in place under the strategy that staff need to take ownership of their own development.
“PDPs let the employee take ownership of their own professional development, by providing them with an opportunity to identify their needs and development requirements,” says Leonie Yeates, senior recruitment executive, EFS.
KPIs are set for each member of staff at the beginning of every financial year.
“The achievement of many of these KPIs is based on the acquisition of new skills and learning. Those employees that have achieved their KPIs and high scores on their annual evaluations are automatically considered for promotion opportunities and succession planning,” says Yeates.
Andersen adds that these KPIs and expectations must be clear to all.
“Staff need to know what the KPIs are and that they are in place. It is not enough to have them and expect staff to work towards them if they are not communicated down through the organisation.”
Development at a higher professional level
However, more companies need to invest in professional qualifications for staff.
“FM qualifications are a recognition of obtaining a particular level of knowledge – an attestation that the person has a proven high level of knowledge and skill,” says Al Hajj.
People see the great relevance of our qualifications to the industry’s good practices. Moreover it helps FM professionals apply their knowledge in their day to day work.”
Heriot Watt University offers an MSc in FM (180 credits) a Postgraduate Diploma (120 credits) in FM and a Postgraduate Certificate in FM (60 credits). Continuous professional development can also be tailored to an individual company.
“People can come and join in on one or more of our courses and attend the class. Alternatively, we offer in-house training for FM companies,” says Al Hajj.
“The attainment provides direction and a cohesive approach to the FM discipline. When doing a degree the whole picture is presented whereas at work you are sucked in to day to day issues and don’t have the time to link things together. We will challenge professionals to develop analytical thinking,” adds Al Hajj.
Staff development at MESG is mandatory not only to gain insight and knowledge of market trends but to innovate and develop better practices. The company implements an initiative which sponsors staff in industry specific qualification acquisition.
Incentives and Initiatives
MESG has an annual 360 degree feedback system at the staff level forming the basis for bonuses and promotions. At the labour level, staff are incentivised both morally and financially through a bi-annual promotion review, using feedback received from surveys on client sites.
As well as subsidising degrees and industry specific qualifications for its staff, EFS awards an employee of the month.
“This motivates our employees to manage their own development and career progression,” says Castelino.
“Moreover, EFS firmly believes in performance related pay. The annual performance evaluation provides line managers with the opportunity to evaluate their employees, based on their personal and professional competencies and capabilities.
As the employee increases in his/her competencies through attendance on training and development initiatives, this will in return increase their performance score resulting in higher increments and bonuses,” she adds.
Be clear about your future
“Training is essential in boosting the morale of staff as it proves to them they are valued by the company,” says Ablett. “ The primary reason FM staff seek out alternative job opportunities in the early stages is because they feel under-valued.
“If you don’t make sure they are up to speed and you leave it to them, they’ll look around to find somewhere else. The career development plan needs to be put in place within the first 3-6 months of the person starting the job.”
Backhouse adds that the company needs to make explicit its future direction.
“Situations when the company does not demonstrate clear direction can make the candidate unsure of their future with the company,” she says. “We ensure we have a clear picture of this when short listing candidates for a role.
It’s important to know why a line manager took a job in the first place and what it is that makes them stay. When organisations are working towards clear SLAs, it helps staff understand what they are working towards and how they plan to do it,” she concludes.
MMG’s checklist for better recruitment
• To improve the candidate pool when recruiting
• To hire the most talented people you can find
• To look in-house first: providing promotional and lateral opportunities for current employees positively boosts morale and makes current staff feel their talents, capabilities, and accomplishments are appreciated
• To be known as a great employer
EFS top 5 tips for successful training
- Relevance: Ensure that the training each employee receives is relevant to his or her duties. Putting everyone through the same program may not be appropriate and employees will tune out if they feel like they are being made to learn skills or knowledge they will never use.
- Expert teachers: The trainer should be competent, professional, and experienced within the specific field. Technical expertise is essential in passing knowledge on.
- Materials: A comprehensive training handbook and other adequate supporting material that participants can refer to once they leave the course must be available.
- Check effectiveness : Implement a measurement system to assess the effectiveness of what employees are learning.
- ID personal potential: Well-trained employees mean lower worker turnover rates and a more content work force that is willing to invest in achieving the highest possible delivery of a task.