The British Institute of Facilities Management (BIFM) hosted an evening talk at KPMG’s Canary Wharf offices on Tuesday 12 November to advance the case for employers in the facilities management sector to adopt the London Living Wage. Speakers included Rhys Moore, director of the Living Wage Foundation, Jane Wills, professor of urban geography at Queen Mary University, Sandy Aird, managing director of Enhance Office Cleaning Ltd and Guy Stallard, head of facilities at KPMG.
The event followed London Living Wage Week, a nationwide campaign run by the Living Wage Foundation to raise public awareness, which saw 400 accredited Living Wage employers across the country celebrate their commitment to the Living Wage. The London Living Wage offers a fairer wage for low-paid workers such as cleaning staff that is above the current national minimum wage of £6.31 per hour, was recently increased by 25p to £8.80 for London and £7.65 for the rest of the UK. The amount is reviewed and updated annually in line with inflation.
Moore explained the basic principles and benefits to businesses of adopting the Living Wage, a voluntary payment scheme offered by employers in which they sign an agreement with the Living Wage Foundation to pledge to offer a Living Wage option along every tender, quote or bid. The scheme has been running for 11 years, and has now garnered cross-party political support from Prime Minister David Cameron, Labour leader Ed Miliband, London Mayor Boris Johnson and public support from other national figures such as Nottingham bishop Paul Butler.
He emphasised the ‘soft’ benefit to businesses of enhanced reputations, and benefit to the economy of lifting some of the burden off taxpayers, as companies offering the Living Wage offers will appeal to more workers, thus reducing reliance on benefits and decreasing turnover in staff. In future, he sees the London Living Wage as a mark of accreditation.
Stallard and Aird confirmed the proven benefits to their companies and workforce since applying the London Living Wage, and commented on the value of committing to it for the long term for delivering FM services. Some of the additional benefits referred to include: better-quality service; less complaints to the helpdesk; positive feedback from clients; reduced staff turnover and overhead costs; increased staff productivity and motivation; increased employee, customer and supplier loyalty; and – of particular relevance to FMs – less time spent on micro management.
Wills backed up the arguments for businesses to sign up the London Living Wage with rigorous academic research and statistics commissioned by the Anglican Church to help reduce poverty in the capital. The results of the number-crunching exercises showed emphatically that employees in receipt of the London Living Wage experienced a greater sense of overall well-being, improved work and family life, and a better ability to add back to society and the economy as a whole.
BIFM recently announced it is now an accredited employer of the Living Wage, and held the event to encourage other employers in the FM sector to follow suit. As Gareth Tancred, BIFM chief executive, said:
“BIFM wants to actively encourage FM leaders and the organisations they work for to seriously consider the provision for Living Wage in their contracts and workplaces to highlight the moral dimension of our responsibilities and our impact on the economy and society.”
Event review by Jane Cahane