Opinions

The changing nature of work and the workplace show no signs of abating, and for facilities management the need to bring value to our customer’s business and a positive impact on their bottom line will become ever-more important. To achieve this we need to apply our intellect as much as our physical effort, to ensure that the services we deliver match the changing needs.

Cleaning in the workplace today already ‘isn’t just cleaning’. Cleaning efficiently, achieving good hygiene standards, supporting the environment and working collaboratively with the building occupants and other service providers all require us to use our brains, at least as often as our hands.

Supporting your brand and company image is key in today’s world of instant communication and high brand equity. First impressions always count, whether you are a visitor or an employee, and the building exterior, entrance and reception will influence your opinions of the organisation, long before the office areas are reached. Cleaners play an important role in ensuring everything looks perfect as well as giving a warm and helpful welcome to anyone they meet.

A productive workplace requires an environment where employees can excel. A clean and tidy office goes without saying, but cleaners should be the eyes and ears of the building as they go about their daily tasks. They will report issues that are often missed or ignored by others, such as building defects, leaking taps, fire hazards, misused recycling containers and pests, ensuring that remedial action is taken before a serious issue results, which could waste employees’ time.

High hygiene standards are important in maintaining the health and safety of building users, and reducing illness and absenteeism. Activity-based working areas and hot desks may be used by many people throughout the day, so high standards of cleaning and hygiene are needed to reduce the risk of the transmission of bacteria and viruses. Cleaners will ensure kitchen and washroom areas are spotlessly clean, and well stocked with the appropriate consumables for hand washing and drying.

Improving cleaning efficiencies requires a detailed understanding of how different areas of the office are used, and their respective cleaning needs. Separating tasks into light, hygiene and intense can optimise the way the cleaning is done, coupled with encouraging the cleaning team to identify and suggest improvements. Appropriate technology should provide data and management information for service transparency, comparisons and benchmarking, allowing best practise to be transferred.

The environment and sustainability are high on today’s business agenda, and cleaning protocols including the use of eco-labelled chemicals and less water, power and packaging all contribute.

Company culture, processes and technology, together with employee training, development, support and reward are key to a cleaning operation that delivers value to an organisation, enabling it to focus on its core business. It’s Not Just Cleaning, which is why we are NJC!

Almost every day there seems to be a new research report, opinion piece or white paper discussing how employee happiness, wellbeing and agile working contribute to productive and effective working environments. It is reassuring that the property and facilities sectors are now focusing on the factors that directly affect employees, as people are the largest cost and biggest contributor to success for most companies.

When our customer Landsec relocated their headquarters from the Strand to Victoria, there was no question that they would set themselves some rigorous objectives in the delivery of a healthy and satisfying environment. The relocation provided Landsec with the opportunity to adopt a new workplace strategy aimed at bringing together different areas of the business.

Landsec decided on an approach grounded in the latest research and thinking, to adopt a new workplace strategy aimed at increasing communication, collaboration, employee wellbeing and sustainability. To achieve this, the BREEAM and International WELL Building Institute™ frameworks were adopted and the project led to the first dual certified workplace in the world to reach BREEAM Outstanding and WELL Certified™ Silver.

Facilities Services often receive little mention in achieving leading working environments but cleaning and waste services have played an important part in achieving these standards.

NJC recognised that not only would processes and procedures have to change, but our overall approach to resourcing the project would need to be different. We realised that the manner in which we briefed our on-site colleagues, and the training we provided was critical to maintaining the standards.

Our cleaning training has been tailored to the needs and protocols of the frameworks, focusing on cleaning procedures, safety and recording of information in appropriate cleaning logs. Waste has been reduced, with all our team fully trained in waste separation and recycling.

NJC has worked with the Landsec team to introduce additional cleaning protocols, including specific cleaning of all high touch surfaces (including light switches and door handles) to ensure high levels of hygiene, contributing to employee health.

Eco-labelled products have been adopted to avoid chemicals which may adversely affect indoor air quality and cause eye, nose or throat irritation, while fragrance free soap is available at all hand-wash locations.

But we do not have to take Landsec’s word on the new holistic approach achieving a better working environment. The changes have had a significant impact with a recent Leesman survey of the Landsec headquarters finding that 88% of employees felt that the new office enables them to work productively, compared to a global average of 67%. In addition, they are the second, and largest, UK workspace to be WELL Certified™.

With health, wellbeing and productivity rightly on the agenda of most companies today, we look forward to using our expertise and knowledge to partner and support other organisations on their journey.

Achieving 3 million new apprenticeships by 2020 was never going to be an easy task for the government. In a time of austerity with cuts consistently on the horizon, there was inevitably going to be a funding shortfall. To compensate for this, the Apprenticeship Levy was introduced on the 6th April 2017, which has completely transformed the way that apprenticeships are funded, placing a large amount of the responsibility on companies rather than the government.

However, early research from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) shows that employers are still confused about the Apprenticeship Levy, with 56% of levy-paying organisations not expecting to recover all or most of their costs. Additional research from Evolve Learning Group and West London College indicates that only 37% of employers feel that they fully understand the levy. Consequently, many employers are not realising just how they can use the levy to develop both new and existing staff and distinguish themselves as an employer of choice in an increasingly competitive marketplace.

 

The Levy

The Apprenticeship Levy applies to all employers in England who have an annual pay bill of over £3m. The levy of 0.5% of the pay bill, minus a £15,000 allowance from the government, is collected by HMRC through PAYE. Employers can access the funds through a digital account and use these to pay for apprenticeship training. Unspent funds expire after 24 months.

 

At NJC, engaging with and gaining an understanding of the Apprenticeship Levy has been a key priority for 2017. NJC is passionate about the continuous professional development of employees and we were keen to understand how the levy can be used to fulfil this commitment. What we discovered turned out to be key in the development of our learning and development strategy for the foreseeable future.

The new Apprenticeship Standards cover a broad range of professional development courses which have previously not been funded through governmental schemes and the number of people eligible for these places has increased dramatically. For instance, in previous years, any employees with a degree would not be eligible for an apprenticeship whereas now employees with a degree can embark on an apprenticeship course, providing that it allows them to gain substantive new skills and the subject is materially different from their degree.

So why are many companies not seeing the levy as an opportunity to upskill their current employees? Is it because most employees generally have the qualifications needed to do their jobs? Well, not according to the latest research this year from the CIPD which stated that only 57% of the UK workforce was described as well-matched to their job by qualification (by comparison Germany and the US score 66% and 67% respectively). This research would indicate that employers are missing out on a big opportunity to match their employees' skill development needs with the apprenticeships that are available for funding under the levy.

At NJC we were keen to embrace this opportunity and to understand any barriers to entry or completion of these courses. One barrier that we quickly encountered was the word ‘apprentice’ itself and its connotations – a word typically designated to a school leaver learning a trade at reduced wages. Many employees assumed that all apprenticeship programmes were designed for young workers or for those new in their careers and that these would not be appropriate for them. This is quite simply not the case. A better way to view these courses is as a type of professional development upskilling for employees to perform their roles more effectively or preparing them for a higher role.

Initiating a change always has to start with the business leaders and that is why our management team at NJC has been the first in the business to enrol in courses under the Apprenticeship Levy. We have matched all managers within NJC with an appropriate management course for their role, starting from supervisors at A-level equivalent Team Leadership courses, all the way up to senior management Masters equivalent Senior Leader courses. These courses have all been accredited by either The Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) or The Chartered Management Institute (CMI). Following on from this roll-out will be a focus on other roles within the business so we can continue our tradition of offering entry-level apprenticeship schemes for our operatives and ensure we have a highly trained support team at our Head Office.

So how can you start to make the Apprenticeship Levy work within your business? Fundamentally, there are a few key steps required to get this process underway.

  • Join some free webinars hosted by training providers and colleges. These are widely available as providers are keen to promote their services. Alternatively, videos of previous webinars are available on Youtube. These videos are useful tools for learning about how the levy is paid and what it can be used for.
  • Conduct a skill gap analysis. Learning where the development needs and priorities are within your business will provide you with the information you need to match your employees to the available development courses.
  • Consider setting up a link with a nominated training provider. This will allow you to select one provider with access to your levy who will be able to recommend the most suitable courses for your skills gaps and take on much of the administration for you. Alternatively you could decide to use multiple providers, but this is likely to entail more administration for your in-house learning and development team.

The Apprenticeship Levy may be the biggest unrecognised opportunity in recent years that you have to improve the productivity of your business and to demonstrate to your employees that you are committed to their development. Don’t waste it.

Amy Mellor

NJC Learning and Development Advisor

http://www2.cipd.co.uk/pm/peoplemanagement/b/weblog/archive/2017/09/29/majority-of-businesses-don-t-expect-to-recover-apprenticeship-levy-payments.aspx

https://www.tes.com/news/further-education/breaking-news/two-thirds-employers-not-using-levy-funds-train-staff

https://www.cipd.co.uk/knowledge/work/skills/uk-skills-system-report

 

building facilities team2

The argument has raged long and plenty regarding the optimum shape of the services which support the core business function. In-house, service line specialist, integrated facilities management or total facilities management, the potential permutations are many.

Whichever mode is utilised, there are fundamental principles which are prevalent in peer group successes. The support function operating model must clearly support the core business, underpinning strategic outcomes, and the costs must fall within agreed and affordable parameters.

With increasing reliance on a workplace that follows activity based or agile working practices, the need for innovative, cost effective support services is paramount and the advent of co-working space exponentially increases this requirement. The employee and guest experience is now very much central to a productive business outcome for most professional services companies, ensuring a happy, healthy and engaging environment. The various touchpoints with the providers of facilities services play a key role in this and the different models of outsourcing often impact the experience that is likely to result.

Integrated facilities management companies can provide a single solution, covering a complete range of services, with integrated back-office functions and economic benefits. The integrated provider is unlikely to be an expert in all the services, although many claim to be. A high quality hard and soft services solution often proves the most challenging to achieve, resulting in often invisible sub-contract to others, resulting in informal mixed economies within which quality is difficult to achieve or maintain. Many will claim that this is the most commercially efficient model.

Outsourcing to specialist single service providers allows you to focus on your core business, whilst your service providers focus on what they are best at. Having experts delivering the service should lead to higher efficiencies and better service quality, but will create a client side management need.

Companies, such as property managers, for whom service quality is vital in terms of brand, image, or revenue streams, often utilise specialist suppliers, creating synergies and co-operation across their different providers, so they operate as one team with a shared goal. The focus is on delivering the best experience for building users in the most efficient way. The ultimate goal is to achieve a seamless, high quality harmonious outcome, across service partners, across all disciplines, irrespective of the service structure. Regardless of whom employs the receptionists, security guards and cleaners, there must be a social cohesion, so that they work together collaboratively, focusing on customer experience and embodying the culture and values of the client organisation. A mechanism is therefore needed for the service partners to buy into this ultimate shared goal and to work as one team to deliver an overall service on your behalf, with your support.

So how can this be achieved by an individual client?

The solution may well not be an outsourcing model, nor is it a bundling strategy. The optimum solution is a cultural alignment of companies and individuals, for whom sharing a common goal, is common sense and not a political, cultural or commercial contest. If there was no outsourcing industry we would all be colleagues and any mechanism that returns the support function to common purpose, must surely be valuable.

From being greeted by frontline colleagues as people approach and enter the workplace, being hosted through a clean thoroughfare to the reception to access the building, and from general day-to-day interaction to emergency situations, the one team philosophy should provide a safe, clean, welcoming, maintained and secure environment that demonstrably raises the user experience. Irrespective of the structure used to deliver the support functions, all suppliers should be a part of a formal collaborative programme, with shared goals, values and processes. A number of specialist service providers, including NJC, are already comfortable with this way of working and there are success stories where customers have achieved a single cohesive outcome, with multiple support partners both in-house and outsourced.

As the world of work careers inexorably towards collaborative use of system, space and resource, more productive outcomes will be achieved where the non-core services behave in a similar and symbiotic fashion, forging ever more efficient outcomes, irrespective of our salary source.

The modern way of collaborative business outcomes will require an agile, modern support function that thinks, acts and behaves as one team.

Contact NJC

Our team are here to help with any questions, and to show where NJC can add real value to your colleague and customer experience, so why not get in touch.

Telephone: 0118 944 8111

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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