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Watch again: Now hiring! Overcoming the challenge of recruiting for soft services


FMJ Editor, Sara Bean, and Moneypenny’s Head of Corporate Sector, Jess Prichard, discuss the challenges of recruiting and retaining soft service staff along with panelists:

  • Mark Whittaker, General Manager, Thompson FM & Chair, IWFM
  • Ian Wright, Soft Services Manager, University College London
  • David Bauld, Group Facilities Manager, Paradigm Housing
  • Coleen Cloherty, Director of Build Recruitment

Jess on outsourcing:

“You can’t underestimate the impact on outsourcing these services where appropriate can have.

“Obviously if you’re constantly battling to keep a role filled, that time, investment, recruitment, training, only to go through that cycle again in a few months’ time.

“For instance, either a client is already centralising a switchboard therefore acoustically the switchboard team has to be segregated from the rest of the business, not necessarily in the nicest room or a purpose-built space to do that.

“So there’s almost an inevitability people aren’t going to want to stick around in that circumstance.”

Mark on staff supply:

“We’re saying there is a lack of supply in the FM market at the moment because people are shifting where the money is, so there are people who have left the soft FM services and are training to be HGV drivers.

“Or they’re able to be offered more money in the hospitality sector. So there are those inflationary pressures and that’s going to feed through into the marketplace.”

Coleen on experience:

“FM has always been about skills, experience and fit. You can have all the skills in the world, but if you don’t fit within an organization, it won’t work.

“Soft services are interesting because often there’s entry-level positions available which means they can consider people from sector or outside of sector. On some occasions in soft services fit might be more important than skills, at the entry level, certainly.”

Ian on multi-skilling:

“Absolutely, multi-skilling is important. I think it’s part of re-evaluating how business operates and what can be done, and I think it’s also another way of keeping the staff interested and motivated: “You keep coming back, you show great attitude and performance. Let’s see if you can do something different.”

“It can also help with recruitment. If you’ve already got a good person, and they’ve got all the right attributes but there’s a couple of skill areas missing – we can teach that.”

David on development:

“From my own team’s perspective, what we try to do in terms of training and development is make sure that we have a set goal then plot the route towards that goal. So at the minute one of my team is completing her IWFM level 4, and is excited to be completing that.

“When I started here a few years ago there wasn’t necessarily that route in place to develop our facilities team, now there is.

“It’s about us coming out of the darkness into the light and showing where we do add that value.”

Jess on engagement:

“Engagement doesn’t take up a huge budget, it’s often in small touches that make you feel warm, fuzzy, valued as an individual.

“At Moneypenny that can be anything, a cake on your birthday, a massive fuss on work anniversaries, decorating your own desk.

“It’s in those small touches where people are left feeling more loyalty and allegiance to the business and are therefore less likely to move on.”


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