Key Challenges Facing the Facilities Management Sector

Integrating people with place, and making sure everything operates as it should to ensure optimal productivity of the core business: that’s the tall order fulfilled daily by those in facilities management.  

From maintenance, cleaning and catering, to safety and security and more, that lengthy list of services is the reason the industry employs one in 10 UK workers and accounts for 7% of UK GDP.   Just as with any other organisational function in any industry, it’s not without challenges, whether we’re talking about outsourced or internal facilities management. If you’re in the sector, you’ve likely felt the pinch of one or all of these: controlling costs, staff shortages, increasing labour costs, coordinating rotas, and others.  

Here’s a closer look at the five top challenges facing this sector in the UK and Ireland heading into 2022, as well as how adopting an employee app can help.  

#1 Controlling and Containing Costs 

“Do more, but do it with less” is an all-too-common challenge. Do more and improve quality with less staff, less budget, and less time.  

Often, senior leadership has a hard time understanding the high operating and capital costs of essential facility management functions, such as operations and maintenance. This puts internal facility managers in the position of having to educate and skill up, all the while making efforts to keep abreast of all that their roles are responsible for.  

Increasing labour costs are another angle to the tricky budgeting problem. As a result of the Living Wage movement, which found that 17.1% of jobs pay less than the living wage, many companies are adopting higher wages for low-skilled workers, such FM workers.  

How an App Can Help:  

Many of the features of employee apps are all about communication. An employee app can ease tensions by enabling and improving communication between senior leadership and facilities management employees.  

Essential training can also be provided within the app, whether as part of new employee onboarding or training employees about new processes and procedures. Employees who feel supported with ongoing training are more likely to stick around and are more efficient in their work, which can help ease cost burdens.   

Creating a positive employee experience - Utilities

#2 Staff Shortages & High Demand 

Being short-staffed has frankly been an issue that pre-dates the pandemic. Much of this has to do with the reduction in the pool of foreign nationals coming to work in the UK, willing to perform low-skilled jobs.  

This year alone, demand for FM services has surged across most sectors, as more than 77% have indicated an increased need. Part of that is a result of companies bringing workers back to the office, increasing headcount, and shifting working patterns that involve hybrid environments. 

How an App Can Help:  

Whether it’s training employees on new processes, or offering app features that lift morale, there are a lot of ways that your organisation can use an app to help ease the pressures brought on by these particular challenges.  

Beyond the day-to-day requirements, an app can be integrated into your employee recognition programmes with a feature that empowers employees to recognise each other’s accomplishments and even send virtual high fives. 


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#3 Poor Reputation 

Despite its efforts to keep the shine on all it manages, facilities management suffers from a tarnished reputation of late, in part because of some provider billing and reporting practices that led to widespread mistrust. For workers in the industry who are already paid less, this stigma can feel like quite the sting.  

FM can also feel like a very impersonal sector to be in, one where employees work behind the scenes, but don’t feel seen or recognised.  

How an App Can Help:  

Even though it is technology, an employee app from Thrive.App is all about bringing the focus back to your people, with features that raise morale, encourage interaction and ensure employees feel heard.  

Biffa Waste Management created their app with Thrive. They used the app to spread messages of appreciation and support from the public, who left notes on their bins throughout the pandemic. Without the app, those notes couldn’t have been widely shared and enjoyed.  

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#4 Ensuring Safety of all Employees 

FM can be full of hazards and injuries, and because of the nature of the work, this presents an ongoing challenge. Safety can especially be compromised when employees are overwhelmed and overworked, which is often the case with understaffed teams and the increasing demand for services.  

And then there are challenges presented by constantly changing regulatory and compliance standards, all of which leave little room for error.  

How an App Can Help:  

Information that is meant to keep employees safe can’t wait until an employee is able to read the email — it needs to be disseminated and absorbed right away. Many in FM don’t even have email, let alone desks. Rolling out safety news, training, and accepting compliance, all within the app, can ensure that essential information and acknowledgments don’t get missed.  

The Derry Group Ireland, part of Derry Refrigerated Transport (a provider of chilled and frozen distribution in Ireland, the UK and Europe) uses an app from Thrive.App to push out up-to-the-moment changes in operations, which go out to employee’s devices and serve as a single, reliable point of communication.  

Employee Engagement in Local Authorities

#5 Coordinating Rotas and Holiday Schedules 

There’s a great deal required to keep humming and operational in FM, and staff scheduling is just one of those things. With a spread-out workforce, it can be difficult to make sure needs are met and that the productivity of all personnel is supported. This naturally becomes harder with the staffing issues discussed.  

How an App Can Help:  

An employee app can function as a single platform where employees can view rotas, manage holiday requests, and even access payroll information. Again, this can be a critical tool for these on-the-go employees who are likely not working in a single location or seated at a desk, and so who otherwise might have a hard time accessing this type of information on a computer.  

Employee engagement and career prospects

Next Steps… 

Would you like to learn more about how our app is specifically designed to help you overcome the challenges faced by your industry?

Let us show you how others in your facilities management have found success with an app from Thrive.App, and show you the specific features that we know your employees will love.