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People matters

Jo Sutherland, MD, Magenta Associates summarises the views of built environment specialists on how to address the talent shortage in FM

Hybrid working has changed the way people collaborate, interact, and socialise with colleagues. That is why Magenta launched its ‘People Matters’ series earlier this year. It canvasses the views of HR, internal communications, marketing, and business leaders in facilities management to air the problems and solutions linked to talent attraction, retention, and management. We interviewed 10 built environment specialists over the summer to explore ways to combat the talent shortage in FM. Here’s a summary of those conversations.


It’s important to adopt a ‘what’s in it for me?’ mentality to understand how different people prioritise certain things, and to then communicate in slightly different ways depending on those priority areas, suggests Elior’s HR and Employee Relations Manager Ashleigh Cresswell. A sentiment shared with her nine peers.

“Companies need to be honest and open about what they are trying to achieve and how their team members fit into those ambitions,” added Jaime Lloyd Jones, Churchill Group’s Head of Internal Communications. “Not being too top down and encouraging feedback is important. Give employees a voice and platform through which they can air ideas and opinions.”

For Jasmine Hudson, CPO at Mitie, it’s about treating people as individuals and creating human connections: “Rather than put people in a box, we need to build a culture based on respect that not only appreciates and celebrates what we have in common, but also embraces differences and celebrates uniqueness.”


Mark Sutcliffe, CEO of Lorne Stewart, thinks this starts with living and breathing your values as a business. “Organisations need to connect with people to understand the key issues facing their communities, industries, and employees. The world is moving at an incredibly fast pace, but that shouldn’t mean we leave no room for empathy, understanding and genuine human connections in the workplace.”

Churchill’s D&I group Mosaic Champions works collaboratively across the business, at every level, to address issues, discuss ideas and come up with ways to make the company more inclusive. One way that is currently being explored is translating information for those who don’t speak English as a first language, a common occurrence in FM. “We have people of many different nationalities in the organisation, and this will help them to feel more included by being able to access information more easily,” added Lloyd Jones.

Hudson, subscribing to the notion that creating an engaging DE&I programme is essential to getting as many people involved as possible, is one of the minds behind Mitie’s award-winning ‘Count Me In’ initiative. This includes e-learning modules, workshops, coaching, gamification, team talks, social media engagement and a bespoke 360 feedback programme for senior managers. Managers play a huge part in driving culture, so offer support, training and learning to surface biases and educate them on how to be fully inclusive.


There are challenges across the board with recruitment. The key is to offer flexible roles to suit people’s different lifestyles – “a hugely important factor as people recalibrated their priorities during COVID,” argued Cresswell.

Sutcliffe highlighted that once upon a time offering attractive pay and annual leave packages were the key to securing and retaining top talent. Now, however, there are so many other factors. “Culture is incredibly important,” he argued. “To attract top talent, employers need to prioritise creating a culture that provides both a good working environment and imparts genuine value to the wider world.”

Elior’s UK Communications Manager Andy Grant agrees: “I think the most important thing is to ensure you run programmes that actually make a tangible difference to people’s lives and experiences.”

Mitie’s Science of Service campaign is all about a desire to keep Britain running and contribute to positive change. “The focus lies in enabling our team to deliver positive outcomes,” said Hudson, “from creating a safe and clean hospital environment for a mother cuddling her new-born in a maternity ward, to keeping our school buildings in good working condition.”


Companies need to get creative and support their colleagues in a variety of ways, urged Hudson, whether that’s providing a means to access discounts to help ease some of the burdens placed on people by inflation and the cost-of-living crisis or, as Grant suggests, not being afraid to try new ways to communicate and engage. Lloyd Jones’ advice is to get involved as much as you can. “You need eyes and ears in a lot of places,” she said, “as there are always brilliant ideas floating around.”

“It’s important to embrace diversity, not fight it,” summarised Sutcliffe. “Part of that means ensuring people feel heard and appreciated. Sharing good news, being honest and open, offering incentives – these are some of the ways in which we can help people to feel happy, and like they belong.”

The next series of Magenta’s People Matters series, due out in autumn 2023, will look at DE&I and conflict in the workplace, with the aim of providing a blueprint for an effective communications framework for organisations that are looking to unite their disconnected workforce.

About Sarah OBeirne

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