Leadership and career development
Smita Krishnamurthy discusses the need for professional training in FM
Facility management companies across the GGC have recognised that cost is a key driver in the delivery of the facilities service and the importance of development of staff is a critical factor in providing sustainable and cost effective services. Training and development is rapidly becoming the backbone of the FM industry.
This ensures employees are adequately trained in health and safety, hard and soft services, and have a sound knowledge of procedures and government legislation.
Facility companies in the UAE mainly source their technical manpower from countries like Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Philippines; it is a challenge to bring so many cultures together under one umbrella and to get them to work to local and international standards.
Comprehensive facilities management training that includes communication programmes is essential in this part of the world since workers from different cultures and background have to work together on projects.
This type of training allows them to communicate with a wider range of people, helping improve productivity and service, reducing breakdowns and reactive maintenance jobs, thus reducing overall maintenance costs for both clients and the FM providers.
Training and development facilitators are available in the UAE but the full range of training that is required for the FM industry is difficult to obtain.
The obvious gap that has evolved in bringing technicians, cleaners, supervisors and managers up-to-date with local health and safety legislation, plus understanding and awareness of rules and regulations is difficult and also expensive.
Another constraint is the lack of professional trainers in subjects specific to the FM industry. Very few companies, if any, provide training labs for hands-on work on HVAC and MEP equipment where technicians and supervisors can carry out troubleshooting and repair of the apparatus.
Training comes at a substantial cost, and with increasing competitiveness in the current market and clients driving down costs, training becomes difficult to budget.
Spending on staff training might not be at the top of the agenda for businesses struggling to survive the current financial downturn, but perhaps it should be.
Research shows companies that do not train and develop their staff are two-and-a-half times more likely to fail than those firms that train their staff. After all, it’s competent, committed staff that enables organisations to secure a competitive edge.
Specific technical skills are required when dealing with technology in the modern building infrastructure. Mechanical, electrical, air conditioning, plumbing and BMS are more integrated since the industry included sustainable and environmental concepts into design. Training equips employees with the key knowledge and skills they need to perform the tasks and duties on these modern building systems.
Targeted, need-based training focused on FM contracts can prove to be cost effective for a company, as it is cheaper to train existing employees compared to recruiting new ones with the skills that the organisation requires.
Perhaps the most important benefit of training is having effective employees on project sites who are able to execute their duties efficiently, thus positively impacting the bottom line of both the FM provider and the client.
However, the quality of training a staff member gets is also important. Permitting an employee to go through some sort of substandard training course does not ensure improvement in skill or knowledge.
Rather, the management of the organisation must be committed to sustaining high quality training for its employees of all levels, otherwise ineffective training will result in poor work quality. Weak training practices will prove to be more expensive in the long run as low level of skills will result in low KPIs in contracts, leading to contract cancellations or complications at the time of renewal.
In the FM industry, if companies choose not to provide continuous technical trainings, they will find it difficult to stay ahead of the competition. High quality training programmes provide a balance between supporting people development, talent management and succession planning, along with capturing industry best practices and raising professional standards and reliability of service.
About the author
Smita Krishnamurthy is senior officer of IMS and training at EFS