One of the greatest challenges of facility management is ensuring a steady labour supply. The cleaning profession is less and less alluring to the younger generation, therefore different programmes have been developed to address the issue. Expert at FM & Office Konferencia were talking about the impression and experience drawn so far and how facility management could be made more alluring.
‘Guests of the panel discussion are jointly responsible for the employment of about 10000 people. What we have to talk about is how labour shortage in the facility management industry can be solved. Either it has to be made more alluring, or the labour intensity has to be mitigated’, said Dr. István Hajnal (honorary associate professor, Budapest University of Technology and Economics, Faculty of Architecture), the conference moderator.
To the question whether there is enough labour force in facility management, Pál Dúcz (Director of HR, DOME Facility Services Kft.) said even if there were enough people for the positions, the lack of qualification causes severe problems in this field. István Jászberényi (LEO, Vice President, Managing Director of KRAFT FM Üzemeltetési és Szolgáltató Kft.) said the labour force can be categorized in two groups: the first one consists of colleagues who have been working in this field for a long time and have substantial experience but lack digital literacy, the other contains younger workers without experience or the will to acquire the necessary knowledge for cleaning, but who can easily learn the usage of digital devices.
According to Mariann Hanzi (HR Deputy CEO, B+N Referencia Zrt.), this is exactly why the sector should focus more on work efficiency. Tamás Szöllősi (Head of Operations and HR, Indotek Group) added that companies need to be made more alluring, as catchwords and slogans that companies previously communicated but never took seriously have become key expectations of younger workers. Katalin Takács (LEO HR workgroup leader, Future FM – HR Branch Manager) agrees that labour shortage is a problem but not equally in all fields. Whereas there is a quantity problem with kitchen assistants, in terms of the technical crew of facility management the problem is more the lack of vocational expertise.
Facility management is not sexy enough
István Hajnal reported what he experienced as a university teacher among young architects. He asked architect students attending their facility management class how many of them would want to work in that field. Only 2 out of the 32 students gave a positive answer. When he added the position would pay a 20% higher salary, the number of positive responses climbed to 6. With a 50% higher salary, the majority of the group raised their hands. This means that:
‘Facility management is not sexy enough’, said István Hajnal.
How to make it sexy?
Katalin Takács talked of an ambassador program, where professionals working in the field show secondary school students what they do, in order to make their field more popular among the young. István Jászberényi said they had noticed the main problem is the lack of awareness, as a result of which when students are choosing their career, they do not even know this is an existing profession. According to Mariann Hanzi, this profession has been pushed in the background as something to be looked down on, so it is no wonder only few want to choose this line of work. The young have to be shown that they can be appreciated through it and create value with their work.
Tamás Szöllősi said the problem needs to be addressed in its entirety and it would be a mistake to reduce the popularization of the profession only to a question of higher payments. According to Pál Dúcz the sector also has to focus on labour force retention, which means it is not only the young who need to be targeted, people already employed need to be given the chance to grow. If people working in this area are involved in the conversation as to how we can make this service more efficient, they will feel more valuable too.
Does digitization decrease quantity demands?
According to Katalin Takács it does not. There are many positions where human labour is indispensable, therefore it is the very fields where digitization cannot replace labour (cleaning) in which it would be the most necessary. Digitization could be used in for example security services, however, older colleagues might be annoyed by it. They cannot be released and yet, digitization is important for drawing in younger workers. Therefore, this question is quite controversial. Tamás Szöllősi said it is a continuous struggle to find out how those who did not grow up with smart devices around can acquire the necessary knowledge to work with smart technical equipment. We are already happy if they enter e.g. the meter numbers into the computer and not write them on a sheet of paper.
Are foreign workers employed in facility management?
Katalin Takács said foreign workers are already being employed, primarily in the field of cleaning. In the opinion of Pál Dúcz, cleaning wages are so high that now it’s worth for those who have gone abroad for better standards of living to stay home. However, we must add, the too fast increase in wages is going to inflate this pay rise.