Wising Up

Quick mobilisation is a rampant issue in the FM industry

ANALYSIS, Facilities Management, Mobilisation

Quick mobilisation is a rampant issue in the FM industry; experts discuss the importance of recruitment and training

The Middle East has seen a boom in construction over the last decade, leaving not only older buildings but brand new ones for facilities management firms to take over. In this region, quick mobilisation is often required, which leads to the HR department scrambling to find the right fit.

Not only is it important to recruit the right people for the job, equally necessary is continuing training after hiring.

With quick changes in the FM sector, whether it comes to laws or new technology being used, it’s essential for staff members to stay abreast of changes to ensure they are able to run and maintain properties as efficiently as possible. fmME speaks to five experts about three stages: recruitment, training, and a concept called ‘partnering’.

Vacancy available
Craig Stuart and Adam Passfield are directors of i-expatriate, a new concept for the Middle East which uses the latest technologies to automate the process a recruitment consultant will go through when sourcing candidates.

Stuart explains the procedure: “We distribute your vacancy through our system; it then appears on up to 100 of the world’s most recognised job portals/boards. At the same time our in-house team will search passive channels such as LinkedIn and CV databases finding people who meet your criteria.”

Stuart indicates that mobilisation is often needed at a fast pace in the FM industry. “As facilities management is a fast moving business, projects go live at short notice and manpower can be needed in large volumes. Our solution will generate the high volumes of candidates that will be required to meet a firm’s needs.”

Passfield says that since the company operates on a transparent flat fee model (so firms know exactly how much they will be spending right from the start), a typical cost saving for a company using i-expatriate is between 70-80%.

There are challenges in the Middle East when it comes to recruitment, and Stuart explains: “From a client perspective, I would say until now limited choices of candidate attraction methods [is a challenge], meaning the spectrum has a large gap from using low cost in-house methods of job portal advertising and employee referral networks, to using high cost agencies.

“One of the big issues in the Middle East is quality of the CV and the number of irrelevant applications received.

Unfortunately it is often the mind-set of a jobseeker to apply even if his skills don’t match, just in case that employer has another role available.

In reality all this does is waste the time of the in-house recruiting team or the recruiter. Typically in this region only 5–10% of the applications received will have a skill match, making it significantly lower than in the West.”

Passfield adds that training is necessary post-recruitment as well. He explains that it is essential for every business and organisation to re-invest into staff. “From an organisational perspective, it’s often best to promote from within. People then have a better understanding of how the company operates and it encourages loyalty.

“If you continue to train and develop your staff they value you more as an employer and will also refer their friends to your organisation. As we all know, the referral is the most cost effective way to find and maintain staff.”

Training day
Emrill is an FM firm that heavily invests in training, with its Centre of Excellence dedicated to the cause.

Minelle Gholami, senior HR business partner, says training and development within the FM industry is “imperative to maintaining a competitive advantage and consistently delivering high quality services to meet the changing needs of the industry and clients.”

She adds: “Employee development through training ensures that staff are equipped with the skills to be effective and add value to our clients.

It is highly motivating for employees as we are investing in their professional and personal growth for the long term. Clients seek the value added with competitive pricing, therefore the training and development of staff ensures FM providers are able to keep up with innovation and provide sustainable solutions.”

Emrill believes training is essential on a regular basis. Gholami says that the vast majority of employees in the FM sector are blue collar and recruited from a variety of different countries from around the world.

With this immense cultural diversity, it is essential to provide training that does not just address skill requirements but also pays equal attention to the development of their communication skills and behavioural competencies.

“While overseas employees bring a certain skill set, the market in the UAE demands international standards for health and safety, and trade-specific standards.

It is therefore necessary for FM providers to train their employees to company standards after recruitment. For example, it is quite common that experienced housekeeping employees with hospitality experience are not aware of COSHH regulations,” explains Gholami.

She continues: “Further to this, training and support is required to aid the integration of diverse cultures into the working environment and the cultural landscape of the UAE.”

Andrea Yoko, head of the Centre of Excellence says the two main challenges prevalent in the region are finance and time — as most employees have six-day working weeks, it is practically difficult to schedule time for training, and investing financially to provide training can be hard in the current market where businesses are working to drive economic solutions.

“FM providers are being driven to finding creative solutions to prevent stalling the progression of employees and the quality of services being offered to clients,” adds Yoko.

Partnering skills
“The standards of training in FM are on the rise. But so are the demands of the industry and not just in terms of the technical requirements and technologies,” says Dave Bradley, managing director Middle East, Vantage Point.

He explains that managing the complex relationships between communities, environmental stakeholders, end users, developers, owners and suppliers is going to be more important than ever.

“Yet, as we invest in more training for technicians and field staff, what about the skills of strategy, management and relationship management? What about the skills of partnering?” asks Bradley.

He says partnering is a powerful approach to developing high-performing relationships with key customers and other stakeholders, with critical suppliers, and between management and employees.

However partnering risks becoming yet another victim of ‘form over substance’ — joining the ranks of MBO, TQM, process reengineering and ISO accreditation, according to Bradley.

While they are were, and still are, viable approaches to improving organisation performance, Bradley says there are three reasons why they have fallen into disrepute: they are implemented using a ‘one size fits all’ approach; basic organisation change management disciplines are not followed; and, the people skills and behaviours needed to deliver are not given sufficient focus, training and coaching.

“Part of the problem also lies in the fact that partnering, like ‘teamwork’ and ‘quality’ is a concept. Like any concept, if you ask six people from different backgrounds what they understand partnering is to mean, you’re likely to get six different answers,” he says.

“Depending on whom you speak to, the meaning of ‘partnering’ can include: trust-based relationships based on mutual goals and open communication; preferred supplier contracts; or, a phrase used to put a politically correct spin to relationships that are in reality adversarial, contract-based and short-term in nature. In other words, partnering is what you make it,” he says.

Bradley concludes that the key to successful business relationships lies in selecting and managing a relationship type that is optimised to meet both party’s needs — it’s about picking “the right horse for the right course.”

Find a course!
The Middle East Facility Management Association (MEFMA) has the Ta’aseesy foundation course in FM and now the Muhtarif professional course for those interested in learning more about the industry in the region.

With regular seminars and training dates, interested parties can brush up their knowledge on best practice and local laws in order to maintain their properties as efficiently as possible.

Heriot Watt University – Dubai campus offers a Diploma and a Masters in Facilities Management. It is fully accredited by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).

Some of the taught courses include service procurement and provision, asset maintenance management, sustainable practices in facilities management and more. In addition to these taught courses, students pursuing the Masters qualification undertake a research project.

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