So after a year of political deadlock and more votes in Parliament than anyone of us can comprehend we are finally all set for a general election in December. The ‘Brexmas’ election as it has already been coined will finally sort out Brexit, heal the clear divides that exist across our communities and enable the country to focus on the matters in hand, namely the NHS, education and crime to name but a few… Or so we are led to believe.
The alternative scenario is that we come through the election as divided as we went in, we get Brexit ‘done’ or we don’t, we have a people’s vote, or we don’t, we have a majority led Government or we don’t. It is against this backdrop that all of us in the FM community need to deliver excellent services, build strong businesses and keep increasing the productivity of UK PLC for the betterment of all the thousands of people we employ.
We are in highly unusual times and whilst the Politicians may want this election to be a vindication or otherwise or their own particular version of Brexit, the wider Social, Environmental and Economic challenges are those that we as business leaders in FM need to address.
In an Environmental context, we are in the midst of a climate emergency, the environment and our effect upon it are now squarely on the corporate agenda. Whether people have subscribed to the plastics pollution outrage, highlighted by David Attenborough’s Blue planet or are sympathetic to some of the messaging from pro environmental activists such as Extinction Rebellion, it is impossible to ignore the groundswell of opinion. The FM sector and business community will and can have an enormous impact on improving our environmental performance and it will be interesting how these challenges are addressed in the lead up to this election.
In terms of our Economic wellbeing, the scarcity of resources and skills remains a top five risk for any business in the UK. Access to skills, training, retention and the diversity of our workforces present a very real challenge to the delivery aspirations of any business. The growing influence of the digital revolution and the need to upskill, retrain and identify the employees and professionals of the future is a fundamental requirement. The adequacy of the Apprenticeship levy, the development of skills in our schools and colleges and the excellence of our Universities are all political issues that need focus, a willingness to listen to industry and some action.
In a Social context, there are a whole array of issues spanning from fair pay through to adult social care, affordable social housing and the long-term effects of the austerity measures on many of our Public Services. It is in this arena that I suspect many of the Politicians will choose their battles. We should prepare ourselves as FM professionals for promises of huge spending across the three main public sector activities of health, education and crime on one side versus the ‘privatisation is bad’ arguments on the other and the increasing desire to bring more services back in house.
Through all of this we navigate ourselves, our engineers maintain critical assets and keep the lighting and heating on in our retail stores, schools, factories, hospitals and distribution warehouses. The small army of cleaning and security professionals will continue to work tirelessly to keep up appearances and keep us safe.
The 12th of December will come. The promises, rhetoric and noise will be deafening between now and then but our challenges from an FM perspective will remain the same and we should continue to keep focusing on those and on delivering excellence to all our stakeholders.