How can FM organisations deliver happiness?

If FM organisations cannot create an environment that makes their own staff happy, how can they possibly deliver happiness to clients?

Alan K. Millin is a facilities scientist and noted thinker.
Alan K. Millin is a facilities scientist and noted thinker.

With the UAE’s appointment of a Minister of Happiness, facilities management organisations are presented with a new challenge and opportunity. If they can rise to meet the challenge they will reap the benefits of the opportunity before them. But just how can FM organisations deliver happiness? Perhaps we might see leading organisations offering happiness as a new service line, with service levels and performance indicators. It would be nice wouldn’t it?

For many organisations though, the mere concept of happiness will present a challenge, even within their own offices. I have worked in offices in the UAE, where directors complain that staff members type too loudly, and where uttering a syllable or two to a colleague in an open office environment results in heads popping up like a mob of markets.

If FM organisations cannot create an environment that makes their own staff happy, how can they possibly deliver happiness to clients?

One tactic might be to look at what makes clients unhappy. Take the master developer of the area where I live for an example. I’ve referred to this organisation over the years as Elm Street FM, to protect the innocent if there are any in the company.

Over two years ago the organisation installed CCTV and access control systems. Unfortunately, it did not cross anyone’s mind that it might be a good idea to connect the new access control system to the existing intercom system. This meant that occupiers have to leave their apartments on the top floor and descend to the lobby to let someone in. Whether that someone is delivering large bottles of water, laundry or fast food, the result is the same.

Strangely, the new security systems did not stop entrepreneurs from the multitude of “massage” providers entering the building unaided and forcing what must be thousands of business cards through our doors. Did this make me happy? Of course not. In fact, I am still trying to get Elm Street FM to connect the intercom system to the new system. All I can get by way of reply is “we are going out to tender for a manned security service”, which of course means that the expensive new system we have paid for is surplus to requirements.

Elm Street FM also notified tenants of their intention to install district cooling BTU meters to each unit. After they issued the notification, two full winters passed before they decided to install the meters in the middle of summer. Just who, in their right mind, would actually plan to take air conditioning out of service for two days at the peak of summer in the Middle East? Only Elm Street I think. Did this make owners and occupiers happy? No.

More recently I have discovered exactly what my apartment’s district cooling capacity has been assessed at by Elm Street. The result is that I have been overpaying for more than six years. The district cooling provider, who I now have to contract directly with, refuses to reassess the property, stating simply that Elm Street FM must advise them of any change. Two months later, and after following up with Elm Street, I have been told only that my letter has been forwarded to the concerned department. Happy? Perhaps not.

It may well be too early for FM companies to think about making people happy. If that is the case, FM and related companies should at least start working on making their customers less miserable by improving their customer service. It will be a significant step forward in supporting the national quest for happiness.

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