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FM salaries static but realistic (Hays/salaries)

18 March 2010

The FM sector has not been immune from the effects of the recession as recruitment specialists as Hays Facilities Management found in its annual look for PFM at current salary and benefits packages on offer to FM professionals across the UK.

THE LANDSCAPE OF FM hasn’t changed vastly over the last 12 months and as unemployment rates stand at their lowest in a quarter there are signs that hope is beginning to pervade the market for the first time in a long time.
Overall, there has been little movement in salaries since we conducted our last survey 12 months ago. There are modest salary increases in some sectors and locations and more obvious declines in others. As you might expect, some employers are offering lower salaries when hiring because they have the benefit of a larger candidate pool. “It has been a tough year but we are starting to see more optimism from both employers and jobseekers,” says Karen Nodwell, Regional Director of Hays Facilities Management. “Recruitment continues to take place with an air of caution and there are hesitant but sure signs of more movement in the market.”
The vast majority of employees surveyed (85 percent) receive at least 25 days annual leave, which is also considered the most important benefit (24 percent). This was followed by a generous pension provision (21 percent), considered important by 40 percent of respondents and was the second most common benefit received. “The majority of employers have aligned the benefits packages closely with what employees want,” says Alexander Cooper, Manager at Hays Facilities Management. Other than annual leave and a generous pension, around a third of respondents received company car allowance, private medical cover and an element of flexible working.
Regional salaries
Central London and the South East experienced some of the highest salary increases, in particular for heads of FM and operational FMs, both inhouse and contractors. Where there were salary decreases, Central London and the South East tended to fare better than other regions; for example, facilities consultants in London and the South East found their salaries reduced by around four per cent and two per cent respectively, compared to an average of eight per cent elsewhere in the UK. In the North West the facilities consultant’s average pay fell from £44,000 to £40,000. The average salary for a FM professional is still higher in London at £54,200 compared to £46,600 in the South East, which is the second highest average salary. Interestingly, this average has continued to go up year on year in London, despite an overall reduction in averages by job title.
Northern Ireland was one region that was not as badly hit as might have been expected. Some of the increases in salary were higher than those in other parts of the UK, for example a head of FM can expect two per cent more earnings in 2010 compared to 2009, whereas salaries for heads of FM in the South West, North West and Scotland remained flat. Facilities assistants experienced an overall reduction in salaries, with only Northern Ireland and the North West holding firm, despite Scotland and the North East experiencing up to a nine per cent decrease.
When actually looking for a role, many candidates are discovering that they need to be flexible with their salary expectations as the larger pool of candidates available has driven salaries down in some places. Taking on additional duties, often without getting recognition for it, has also added to the feeling of unrest.
“Many candidates are frustrated in their current roles,” concludes Cooper. “A large majority of FM professionals have had to take on additional responsibilities over the past year and many feel unable to fulfil their obligations, leaving them in a position where they are no longer happy working for their employer.”
There is also evidence to suggest that jobseekers are now more prone to considering temporary assignments than they were 18 months ago. Some organisations have restructured their facilities teams and the streamlining of staffing levels has meant that employers are taking on temporary workers to meet the gaps.
Over half (58 percent) of FM professionals surveyed are looking to move jobs within the next year, looking for a higher salary (59 percent), new challenge/more interesting work (49 percent) and more responsibility/seniority (39 percent).
Nodwell says, “The recession has left many professionals feeling as though their career has come to a standstill. Recruitment and salary freezes, experienced by those who have stayed within the same role, have left many candidates in much the same position as they were almost two years ago and as a result many people view a career move as the answer to securing a promotion or pay rise.”
Retaining talent is evidently going to be an issue over the coming year. Coleen Cloherty, Regional Manager at Hays Facilities Management, comments: “For now the majority of employers are relying on the fact that employees are simply concerned with being secure in their role. Some organisations are starting to provide more training programmes and improve benefits packages, but on the whole little is being done to address a potential loss of skills in the event of an upturn. Workforce planning and succession planning needs to be at the top an employer’s list in 2010.”
Qualifications have become increasingly important for FM professionals, specifically BIFM, NEBOSH, RICS and CIBSE. As FM disciplines become more service driven and technical there is a real need for employees to be conversant with CAFM systems and employers are looking for professionals who can demonstrate high levels of communication, mediation and problem solving.
Cooper comments: “Employers are now more likely to demand qualifications alongside experience – helping them to differentiate between candidates in a competitive environment. This is driving more professionals to consider retrainingand up-skilling, as the onus is now on employees to manage their own careers.”
Professionals in the sector would seem to agree with this sentiment, 89 per cent of respondents said that qualifications were either fairly or very important in the industry. By far the greatest reason for pursuing further studies is to develop career and skills (74 percent). Over half of employees surveyed (51 percent) received funded training from their employers.
Last year the public sector was hailed as the place to work due to the added job security and continued funding; however, this year impending budget cuts are likely to put a downward pressure on salaries. Despite this, we are continuing to see candidates focusing their job search on the sector, due to a decrease in private sector opportunities and strong benefits packages. According to Nodwell, “Jobseekers are far more open to discussing opportunities in the public sector, although whether this is set to continue over the next few months is questionable.”
Environmental and energy skills are advantageous to candidates in the current market more highly sought after in the coming year. The majority of roles now have some expectancy of experience in these areas. “Sustainability qualifications are increasingly highly regarded, yet individuals who are able to demonstrate a considerable high performance to conservation and sustainability KPIs are even more appealing to employers,” says Cooper. “The growth in this area has led to new, specialist jobs with a shortage of skills to meet the need.”
Over a third (36 percent) of respondents cited the economic climate as having the most impact on the industry over the next five years. A further 30 percent believe that sustainability issues will have the biggest impact and 15 percent expect H&S legislation will. Some 14 percent cite skill shortages as having the most impact, undoubtedly as a result of the recession.
An impressive 70 percent of respondents said that they would recommend their employer to a friend and 82 percent said their current work-life balance was average to good. “Given the tough year the industry has had this indicates that FM professionals, for the main part, still enjoy their work, even despite increased workload in some circumstances,” says Cloherty.
Respondents were not as upbeat when it came to the possibility of an upturn however. About 26 percent of respondents feel that the downturn will affect the industry for up to a year, while 24 per cent feel it could take up to 18 months and 23 percent expect it to take up to three years. “While professionals are more hopeful about their own career prospects, many are still being realistic with regard to the wider effect the downturn will have on the industry,” says Cloherty. “The next year will be telling and no one is willing to assume anything.”
Hays Facilities Management works with the top employers in the FM sector to place jobseekers in permanent and temporary positions. The information in this article is based on the expert knowledge of specialist recruiting consultants across the UK and includes findings from a survey of over 100 industry professionals. To talk to a specialist consultant or for further information regarding current employment opportunities, call 0800 716026 or visit

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