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June 18, 2018 | Irene Employer's Corner

HR + Facilities Management: How-to make them work together.

HR + Facilities Management: How-to make them work together.

This article is co-authored with David Kenechukwu Obi

Whether it is Human Resource or Facility management, they both aim to increase employee performance to their highest level – each of them in a way corresponding to their role in an organization.

Human Resource Management is concerned with the management of employees from recruitment to retirement. Facilities Management (FM) on the other hand, is concerned with ensuring the building in which people work or live is functional. It is ensuring that all components are working well.

Although the Facilities Management Industry has been operational for many decades, its footprint in Africa (with a few exceptions) is rather recent. Mostly, it has existed in an unorganised form where people perform maintenance tasks only when issues arise; even today there is a substantial segment which operates in this ‘unorganised setup’.

Facility Management (FM) in the workspace, has taken a new turn as to meet the new needs of working practices. But let’s examine its interactions with the HR Department/ Function.

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4 ‘Similarities between HR and FM

Maintaining Good Working Conditions: both HR and FM are tasked with maintaining a conducive work environment, ranging from the number of people in an office space, the location of desks, movement around the facility, etc. This ensures that employees are comfortable and thus provides the foundation for maximum employee- productivity.

By the way, can your FM function support employees when they put in extra hours (working overtime) late at night or during the weekend? FM is not a ‘function’ to be performed only during standard business hours.

Adapting to improving technologies: Technology is constantly changing. HR and FM must ensure that their teams are able to use latest technologies that can improve business processes and thus overall productivity.

For example, logging all visitors to a facility electronically (so that HR can check employee attendance issues and FM can address possible issues of the workspace’s capacity) or reporting maintenance issues using a software as opposed phone calls.

And one can go a step further and ‘integrate’ -even partially- HR and FM solutions. There is no reason for HR not to get alerted when FM cannot resolve an issue which is an obstacle to normal business processes and employee work-ways.

Workforce Training and Development: Investing in the training and development of employees is another task HR and FM must perform. After getting the right talent into the organization, HR an/d or FM should train employees on the optimal use of the organization’s facilities.

There is no reason why besides such a training, there should be not a ‘Facilities Management section’ in the Employee Handbook. Topics can range from saving energy to all-kinds of safety rules (especially in hazardous manufacturing environments), to recycling, to raising a ticket for FM, to even ergonomic setup of everyone’s ‘workspace’ (your desk or your bench or whatever applicable to you).

Health and Safety in the workplace: Health and safety standards are probably one of the most important functions which undoubtedly need great cooperation between the HR department and Facilities Management. Not only does labor law govern these concerns, but they are also of great importance to general employee well-being.

By the way, health in the workplace is not anymore just about hygiene and safety. In 2018, the psychological well-being of employees can deteriorate due to:

  • high demands / heavy workload,
  • limited time to perform all assigned tasks in a given project deadline, and
  • general employee burnout – something that we in Africa do not address properly.

Sure, periods of stress are normal, and under times of pressure, employees can often produce their best work. But high levels of stress cannot be sustained. Hence HR can ensure that the level of stress of employees are monitored while facility managers work to making the structures to improve their overall condition and desire to work even more effectively.

Golden Tip: We strongly recommend that both HR and FM work together with the Onboarding / Welcoming of all new employees.

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The African Reality of HR & FM today

Offices in Africa today:

  • are becoming increasingly more and more expensive to run,
  • they are often outdated and
  • they tend to be overcrowded.

Hence its recommended that HR keeps in touch with employee dynamics and behaviour, and then actively feed this knowledge back into Facility Management strategies.

For example; When people share their desks, there is often a lack of engagement (unless it is very well planned) and their morale can drop. But, just a little ‘FM-change’ in the structure of the workplace, it could resolve all possible problems.

For an office to effectively run smoothly these four key things need to be in place,

  • Talent: are they innovative or just errand employees
  • Technology: if they are working efficiently or compromising,
  • Facility: whether people are working from the right place.
  • and Space, meaning the employee’s personal working space, or the space for a function/ department or the space dedicated to a given business process (e.g. think of manufacturing/ assembly areas)

The FM Employee Challenge.
A lot of great Facility Managers do not have a formal diploma designation – there are very few formal University programmes in Facility Management.

On top of that, HR rarely have developed a clear Role Descriptions (a Role Description is on the average 10-20 pages long), so they are often not in a position to evaluate FM employees.

Keep in mind that Employee Turnover is expensive and can negatively impact business growth. Maybe HR & FM should sit over tea or coffee once in a while and casually chat about the FM profession.

And HR should get acquainted with Professional FM bodies like IFMA, BOMA, BIFM, so they can understand not only ‘who to hire’ but also type of education necessary to develop these FM employees!

Irene wishes that her colleagues / competitors in the Recruitment business could do that too.

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How can HR and Facilities Management work together?

Facilities Management must understand/ must learn how their organisation operates – so they can see how they can contribute to its operations. That way, they can better design for example on office space taking into account the operational needs of the organization instead of any limiting financial and/or visual aspects. And HR can help provide that understanding to /for FM employees.

Enhancing the workspace, can make employees feel a greater sense of belonging and create a genuinely more conducive environment in which to work.

Sometimes a simple ‘stupid’ or naive-appearing suggestion as to where to place a printer or a coffee-machine or even where to place electricity plus, can make a phenomenal difference to employees’ moral and daily lives. These sound not be just FM or IT decisions. Use HR to interface with the employees’ needs.

Unfortunately not all HR teams are as forward-thinking and open to working with facilities management.. I think previously the general approach from HR towards FM has been ambivalent, and where HR has taken responsibility for it the attitude has been to see it as more of a cost burden than an opportunity,” says Jonny Gifford, a CIPD research officer.

Gifford believes it is the CIPD and The British Institute of Facilities Management’s (BIFM) The Workplace Conversation campaign that has primarily prompted the change in approach from HR. But he warns though that:

HR departments keen to get more involved in FM need to ensure they’re not unquestioningly following this trend without considering its suitability for their organisation, or indeed its effectiveness in general”.

Businesses are having to address how to make working practices agiler, how and where employees can work best, and whether their organisations have the models and technology to do that” says Rajat Mathur, Head of Organisation Design at Deloitte’s Human Capital

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In Conclusion
HR and Facility Management (FM) are very important and one may not function properly without the other.

It is necessary to always keep both units in good working relationships because that’s the best way to foster growth and ensure that the “People, Process, Technology and Space”-notions, are operating optimally.

It is also vital that FM team has the ability to respond appropriately & sensitively to changes, recognizing the time & skill involved in issues such as mobilizing the workforce.

The big question is who owns the agenda and accountability of what/where the workplace needs looking at? And how do you bring HR, FM (and possibly the IT and Finance departments too) together to address this?

So, dear Facility Managers, please start developing your great relationship with your HR Department.

And you HR Colleagues, go proactively and find your FM employees- talk and listen to then and work together for a long-term cooperation strategy to benefit all employees….. Listening to FM, should be more than listening to your radio.

Thank you and Good Luck,
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David and Irene
About the Authors:

David Kenechukwu Obi is also the Co-founder & CMO of Joluud a Facility Management software solution.

Irene Gloria Addison is the owner of HIREghana, a Leader Ghanaian Recruitment Agency and also a boutique /niche HRM & Organizational Development Consultancy, based in Accra. HIREghana can be reached at +233 50 228 5155 or +233 266 555 907Our website is http://www.hiregh.com

David and Irene welcome your feedback/ comments/ remarks/ suggestions via your email message to Press {at} HIREgh . com.

© 2018 Irene Gloria Addison and © 2018 Human Intelligence Recruitment

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