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Monday, 6 April

Here Comes Your 19th Nervous Breakdown

Marcus Hill

How integrated are your facilities management and wellness programmes? asks Marcus Hill in a world where mental health in the workplace is a huge issue and the UK sits 19th in the World Happiness Survey.

We could learn a lot from the Finns and the Danes who once again top the World Happiness Survey. Could it be the UK's 19th place on that same survey is adding to a languishing sense of wellbeing and heightened stress in the country's workplaces?

I believe that the facilities management function of the future is one that genuinely embraces premises and people and is directly involved in providing working environments that demonstrably improve the lives of all occupants.

Research clearly shows the link between happy, healthy building users and the quality and quantity of their output at work as well as their experience of the workplace they have been to. There is also strong and mounting evidence of how organisational culture and the workplace environment influence the quality of our work and working lives.

Facilities management is changing. The traditional view that FM focused largely on the delivery of services or taking 10% of a cleaning contract or providing the right level of lighting and temperature no longer rings true. We have gone from Investors in People (which was the 'in thing' back in the 1990s) to Corporate Social Responsibility and now the term 'Social Value' seems to be everywhere. Much of this leads back to wellbeing.


So, with this in mind here are six tips I believe will help FM leaders accordingly:


1. Ensure your business plans for FM actively consider the wellbeing of all building users as a key element for the provision and delivery of services. Wellness is particularly close to the hearts of millennials who have a strong focus on health and wellbeing.

2. Work collaboratively with your peer group across IT corporate real estate, procurement, FM and HR on wellbeing issues to deliver these programmes. There is growing pressure on FM professionals to provide wellness programmes that boost productivity, ensure the right talent is attracted and retained and that sickness and absenteeism levels are minimised.

3. Create buildings with adequate provision for social and interaction space - breakout areas, amenity space, sports facilities etc. Whilst this can be difficult to plan for and to do, it is acknowledged that such space has a direct and positive impact on productivity and the bottom line.

4. Have programmes in place to ensure you embrace the needs of all ages, abilities, genders and generations working in your buildings. The workforce now spans five generations and inclusivity in a diverse workforce is key. Skills shortages, people living longer and retiring later all influence the procurement and delivery of FM.

5. Ensure your current service specifications and supplier management process take account of wellbeing to ensure that the core services at the heart of FM support your overall plans for wellness.

6. Assess the wellbeing programmes of your potential suppliers during your FM services tendering processes. Much has been said about corporate social responsibility in the supply chain but the next area to consider without a doubt will be the wellbeing and social value of the people within your supply chain. If this is improved, it will lead to lower turnover of support staff, greater consistency of service delivery, greater scope for innovation and a more cost-effective service.

FM leaders can’t afford to ignore this shift in the industry. Badly designed workplaces, poor quality of FM services and unsympathetic workplace cultures will almost inevitably have a negative impact on physical and mental health, which in turn is likely to have a damaging impact on productivity, however we define it.


Picture: The author is Head of Facilities Management Consulting at Retearn. He is a seasoned insourcing and outsourcing FM expert and Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Building and a member of the Institute of Workplace and Facilities Management. t. 7990 012431

Article written by Marcus Hill


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