Home / Employee support / Supporting ‘Hidden Workers’ within FM

Supporting ‘Hidden Workers’ within FM


We all know that the UK labour market is facing significant challenges, leading to disparities in pay and working conditions. The Living Wage Foundation report highlights the prevalence of insecure work, where 6.1 million workers experience various forms of work insecurity, often tied to low pay and uncertain hours. This issue is widespread, affecting specific sectors, regions, and demographic groups. The L&G report delves further into the health and wellbeing gap among ‘hidden workers’, including those in facilities management and corporate real estate. These workers, often performing essential roles like cleaning and security, face long hours, low wages, and inadequate support for their physical and mental health. To address these disparities and support this cohort of workers, the facilities management sector can look to undertake several options. Some of these we’ve explored in Pareto and are continuing to work on.

One of the fundamental steps is ensuring that all workers, regardless of their roles, receive fair wages that reflect their contributions. We should all be advocating for fair wages, usable benefits, and paid leave for workers in such roles, aligning with the concept of a ‘Living Wage’. This would not only improve the livelihoods of workers but also enhance their overall wellbeing. It makes business sense and seems short sighted of employers not to think about the benefits of staff retention and future development when looking at such matters.

Workers in the FM sector, especially those in hidden roles, may not be aware of the mental health and counselling services available to them. The sector can take the initiative to educate workers about these services and create easier pathways for them to access the support they need. At Pareto we’ve had a real focus on this area with great success which has provided services to all layers of the business. We’ve had to really think and find better ways to successfully reach all demographics and appreciate how different these approaches can be. For example, the strategy of our Inclusion Committee includes five key objectives that ensure we are always questioning ourselves to find better ways to communicate with everyone, in a way that works for them, I see it as similar to finding their ‘love language’.

With all the studies out there its well known that investing in training and skill development programs for workers in the FM sector can open up opportunities for career growth. This, in turn, can lead to better-paid positions and improved job security. This can be in traditional technical training courses but also wider courses around leadership, personality profiling and wider life coaching. While offering numerous courses is great, it is also important to understand the barriers that your staff may face and how as an employer you can assist your workforce to successfully complete these. While it starts with offering subjects that your teams are genuinely passionate about, it is also about ensuring they have the support they need; academic, workload, study worthy environment and emotional/motivational support, as you’ll very often find that people who really need to do the training rarely think they do: ‘only good parents choose to go to parenting classes’.

The FM sector can play a role in raising awareness about the contributions of hidden workers, showcasing their essential role in maintaining the functioning of institutions. Recognising their efforts can help improve their status and increase public and employer appreciation. Industry awards are a great way to showcase this but, so is internal communications, Pareto have been active in telling the stories of our teams to great success with our largest to date being our More Than Just FM campaign. A further effort to encourage people to bring their ‘Best’ selves to work, the part they want to be commended for.

Collaboration with researchers, organisations, and governments can provide valuable data and insights into the challenges faced by hidden workers. This information can inform targeted interventions and policy changes to improve their conditions. Again, at Pareto we have used SHAPE as part of our ESGM Consultancy to gather information and better understand our workforce. By harnessing the power of AI to focus on data collection, we further worked on these results to create white papers which not only raise awareness but give the perspective of the employees.

Fundamentally, the FM sector has the potential to bridge the pay and wellbeing disparities faced by hidden workers. By advocating for fair wages, better working conditions, access to support services, and policy changes, the sector can contribute to a more equitable labour market. Recognising and empowering these workers is not just a moral imperative but a strategic move that benefits both the workers and the sector itself. 

About Sarah OBeirne

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *