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Enhancing workplace wellbeing

The SFMI 2023 (Sustainable Facilities Management Index) assessments revealed that FMs are now realising the importance of focusing on employee development and wellbeing to help organisations maintain a strong and committed workforce. Which areas should service suppliers and their clients be concentrating on to enhance both individual and organisational wellbeing?


The SFMI (an Acclaro initiative) conducted its annual sustainability assessments from October to November 2023 for willing FM providers who are keen to gain advice on how they can continue to improve their operational and service level performance in embedding sustainability.

From the assessments, it was clear that employee retention on an operational level is now a primary focus for FM providers amid competition in a restricted talent pool. Beyond salary increases, they have been turning to improving culture and responsible business values as well. Companies are placing emphasis on employee development, wellbeing and social value as key tools to retain a strong workforce.

This makes sense. We noticed in 2021 that wellbeing was a trending priority post-pandemic for FM providers and their clients. Based on keeping them healthy and safe in the workplace throughout the pandemic, this has since stayed high on the agenda to combat staff shortages. A mix of macro-level issues have been placing pressure on the skills pool for FM providers, whether that be a lack of engineers, lack of access to foreign workers, or an increase in early retirement. With these factors and the cost of living crisis, FM’s have been driven to ensure that they are a) ensuring their staff are not financially suffering, b) providing staff with soft benefits that build their appreciation for the company, and c) focusing on staff skill development to facilitate career advancement.

The SFMI assessed two companies in particular who have implemented a completely different model to become employee-owned businesses, meaning staff are offered a significant stake in the business. This can improve staff compensation in terms of net worth and job security and helps to improve staff retention and motivation to succeed for individuals with a vested interest in the business.

In terms of financial wellbeing, strong-performing FM providers will support staff through a multitude of actions – like writing the Real Living Wage into tender bids, and working with clients to increase the number of colleagues paid the Real Living Wage. This becomes important as we realise it is not just the FM provider who has control over staff wellbeing, but the client as well. They also provide financial support packages over the challenging winter period, ensuring stability and enabling focus on work productivity.

Mental wellbeing is also inextricably linked. We have witnessed businesses integrating reactive support through trained staff, and offering access to third party mental health services and tools for stress reduction promoting healthy eating, active lifestyles and preventing overwork.

Ultimately, the plethora of services needs to be communicated effectively through the company and backed up by action and support to show that it’s not “window dressing”. This comes down to the ability to distribute information on a regular basis to remind and encourage staff to use the services, alongside the company culture. If a company’s culture pushes employees to their limits without fulfilling promises to look after staff, they will leave, as other FM providers are also facing resource constraints and have positions available. 


Workplace wellbeing is not a passing trend, or a temporary back-to office strategy. People are a business’ greatest asset, and how we support good workplace wellbeing is an integral part of a company’s path to success.

What’s needed is proper investment into permanent wellbeing initiatives, not only to keep your current workforce committed and motivated, but also attract new talent.

Staff retention will always be a priority, but when it comes to business growth and recruitment drives, younger employees are more likely to closely scrutinise the culture of a company when choosing a new job.

So, FMs have a mammoth task – to build an intergenerational workplace culture. It has to measure up against the growing expectations of the next generation of employees, all the while balancing the interests of long-standing and cherished team members. No easy feat!

The widespread uptake of Hybrid working is, generally, something all generations seem to agree as a positive change. It allows working parents greater flexibility to juggle family life with work commitments, and younger employees the work-life balance they expect to be offered as standard.

However, hybrid working does pose increased challenges to those whom we hold responsible for managing – and transforming – workplace facilities. With staff on the premises for a smaller percentage of their working week, budgets that traditionally would have sat in building and facility improvements are being shifted to other areas of the business.

With a list of new wellbeing initiatives as long as our arm, knowing where to focus budgets can be tricky. I think you have to ask yourself: what can we implement that will enhance the working experience for everyone in the business?

When considering intergenerational employee wellbeing, it may be time to get back to basics. Concentrate efforts on enhancing the essential workplace facilities, and (in my humble opinion) you can’t get more essential than drinking water.

A survey we commissioned in 2023 revealed that 78 per cent of working professionals in the UK aren’t drinking the recommended daily allowance of water, and this is having a detrimental effect on their health and wellbeing. More than half surveyed (57 per cent) report feeling anxious, demotivated, distracted, easily irritated, moody, sluggish, tired, unfocused or weak when they don’t drink enough water.

Good hydration is crucial for health and wellbeing, and just about every mechanism in our bodies relies on adequate water intake. And that connection is not lost on our workforces, with the overwhelming majority surveyed (85 per cent) reporting that they are keen to start drinking more water daily.

This year, we are already making an extra effort to practise what we preach. At Zip Water HQ we’ve increased the number of drinking water stations and installed a new ‘enhanced’ flavoured water dispenser in a bid to keep our team as hydrated as possible.

Workplaces are a really important player when it comes to supporting better hydration. From providing great tasting drinking water and healthy favoured alternatives, to offering free reusable bottles and instilling healthy habits – small initiatives can make a big difference.

About Sarah OBeirne

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