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FM salary survey shows healthy outlook

13 March 2008

The annual Hays/PFM Salary Survey shows how the FM sector offers good careers, benefits and rewards at all levels. Published in the March edition of PFM, the Survey reveals trends in salaries and packages across the country.

According to Tim Cook, managing director of Hays Facilities Management, comments:
“The market is currently very buoyant and as of today, the current economic uncertainty has shown no signs of affecting the FM market. Generally, the overall trend has been for a steady increase to salaries with very few regional differences."

He continues: "Over the past 12 months, we have seen a number of mergers and acquisitions affecting FM recruitment, new skills required to focus on sustainability and an increase in PFI due to the Building Schools for the Future programme. All of this is contributing to a healthy outlook but a demanding couple of years for the industry. A good indicator of general satisfaction within the industry is that 72% of employees surveyed said they would recommend their current employer to a friend.

Karen Nodwell, regional director of Hays Facilities Management, says salary levels for all roles have either risen steadily or remained the same over the past 12 months. "This is due to the high number of candidates compared to positions available. Whilst it has been a buoyant year and there have been some high profile M&As these haven’t warranted dramatic salary increases. "

Facilities Directors in Central London can now expect to earn salaries in the range from £75,000 to £150,000, with the majority earning around £95,000. A Facilities Assistant can expect to earn around £26,000.

An interesting trend in 2007 is the lack of regional variations. This is particularly the case at the more junior levels – where the salary differential between Central London and the North is minimal.

According to employees, a minimum of 25 days holiday allowance is the most common benefit currently received, followed by pension and car allowance. We would expect these core benefits to be at the top of the list and it isn’t surprising that accommodation, subsidised childcare and a season ticket loan are some of the least common benefits.

Generally, the difference between junior and senior roles is the extent of the pension provision, which is usually more generous at senior levels due to the remaining final salary schemes. “Flexi-benefits, where you can buy and sell benefits options, are popular with younger FMs and should be on the agenda for employers” says Alex Cooper, section manager at Hays Facilities Management.

The lack of graduates entering the FM industry has been a point of concern for many years now. Coleen Cloherty, senior manager who is also on the FMA committee, says: ‘’The FM industry is competing with management training schemes across a wide range of sectors, including finance and retail, and it is not investing enough time or money in graduate training. The result is that working in FM is often not the first choice for graduates and this had led to an industry-wide skills shortage. However, employers are gradually becoming more aware of the issue, and some of the larger firms have recently established graduate training schemes.”

There are a number of action groups currently campaigning to raise awareness of the shortage of opportunities available to graduates, including the BIFM, FMA and ActionFM. These groups would like to see more degree courses in FM offered in universities nationwide and an increase in the number of training schemes available to graduates upon qualification.

In this survey, 38% of employees stated that a lack of understanding about job roles was the main reason people weren’t entering the industry, followed by attributing it to the fact that FM isn’t perceived as an exciting industry (24%). Only 3% stated that it was because qualifications aren’t visible to students.

Cloherty says, “Whilst we are making some inroads into raising the profile of the industry amongst the younger generation, we still have a long way to go. FM offers an exciting career path that requires a diverse range of skills including customer service, leadership, people management and change management. The new Chartered Manager status will definitely help in terms of providing a clear career path and we have already received some interest in it from employers.”

More employers are now requesting formal qualifications and are supporting FMs in their training. According to Cooper, “Whilst most employers seem to value practical experience over formal qualifications, there has been an increase in the number of employers asking for formally qualified staff or willing to support it. We found that 90% of employees agreed that qualifications were very or fairly important to professionals in the FM industry."

Some 66% of candidates surveyed stated that developing their career and skills was the most important reason for getting qualifications. This is by far the highest percentage – with only 15% responding that obtaining a higher salary is the most important reason for gaining a qualification.

BIFM membership is usually a pre-requisite for the more senior facilities management roles, as is a degree. Many employers are now also asking their FM staff to have a qualification in health and safety, such as a NEBOSH or IOSH, and this will become increasingly important as health and safety becomes a recognised part of the FM role.

A total of 80% of employees surveyed stated that the search for a higher salary would persuade them to look for another role. However, this was followed by the search for a new challenge (59%), highlighting the responsibility of the employer to provide an effective career path and adequate career development opportunities.

According to the Chartered Management Institute (CMI), retaining and developing key people in the organisation will be a critical success factor in the next five years. Senior managers report talent management as a strategic priority, yet over half of line managers are resistant to talent management processes. Cloherty concurs: “Employers are beginning to consider retention as a serious industry issue and are looking at ways that they can improve. For example, employers are recognising the need to offer a better work-life balance."

Generally, working in-house is viewed as a more desirable option to gain a real sense and understanding of working within the wider organisation, plus it is considered a more stable option. Working in-house can also be broader in terms of scope of service, involving additional aspects such as insurance, travel management or corporate hospitality. However, salaries for service providers can be slightly higher, they often have more of a focus on training and development options and can be more innovative in their approach to benefits, offering options such as gym membership. Performance-related pay is also much more commonplace in service providers.

However, Coleen Cloherty, senior manager in London, says: “It isn’t a simple case of which option offers the best pay. There are so many additional factors which need to be taken into consideration, such as organisational culture, diversity of work, scope of contract, training, loyalty benefits – the list goes on.”

Salaries are definitely levelling out, with the PFI industry offering good prospects. It is a specialist industry requiring a different skill set to other FM roles and many employers who wish to recruit in this area seek professionals who are already experienced in the PFI framework. Justin Thomas, senior consultant, comments: “The specialist skills required to work in this sector mean that it is difficult to cross into, but it also means that the stronger candidates are in short supply and so can command higher salaries. Generally salaries in this area are good and employers are more likely to invest in training their staff, but there is some discrepancy across the UK compared to the commercial sector.”

Working in the PFI sector is often attractive because the long partnerships provide job security. It is growing in popularity as its profile grows. A particular focus is the Building Schools for the Future programme, which will ensure that demand for good staff is maintained over the coming years. Justin continues “This year is an important year for PFI bids, meaning that it is likely there will be a drive for staff in 2009 once the contracts have been awarded’’.

The momentum for the FM industry looks set to continue, with only 36% of employees in our survey stating that the credit crunch would affect the buoyancy of the FM market. Skills shortages are predicted to have the greatest impact on the industry by 29% of employees in our survey, followed by health & safety legislation (25%) and the economic climate as a whole (23%).

Interestingly, the impact of the skills shortages is in part driven by changes in legislation due to the new skills set required. For example, energy management roles are growing as companies
are becoming more switched on to issues surrounding sustainability.

We are also seeing a slight increase in roles which are looking for pan-European experience. As a result, we are coming across more people who either have European experience on their CVs or who are looking to achieve it.

Nodwell explains that whilst many sectors of the built environment are discussing the impact of the Olympics on recruitment, this hasn’t yet got to the stage where it is affecting FM. However, it is starting to come onto the radar for some people as they consider the long-term direction of their careers.Over the coming 12 months, we expect the trend for FM professionals with health & safety experience to continue. Although this is starting to filter out into its own role, alongside FM, this is only happening in the larger companies with the responsibility still largely falling to FM. The new corporate manslaughter legislation is likely to impact on this trend further.

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