Facilities Management in the Middle East is an industry which has expanded in leaps and bounds. With developments and projects shaping up at the blink of an eye, companies need manpower to carry their businesses. It goes without saying that investing in human resources is one of the toughest tasks for the top management at FM companies. Efficient personnel recruitment can only be achieved by knowing the market and the client. Most FM companies achieve this by consistent communication and regular site visits. This enables them to understand the company, the culture and the changes that are taking place within the sector. It also provides the company with the acumen to select the personnel with the right caliber for specific businesses. Let’s explore the field of FM personnel and training and find out what it takes to find out the best from the rest!
Different ways to search the talent FM companies ought to invest heavily in their human resource departments and provide them with all the adequate tools necessary to recruit, retain and develop resources. In turn, these departments ought to understand the barriers in finding good FM talent in the region. Qualified FM managers, engineers and technicians are not easily found locally. Recruitment processes have to expand beyond the traditional “word-of-mouth” or networking channels. It is essential for HR departments in the FM industry to act strategically with long-term aspirations while sustaining the current needs of FM operational departments. Ahmad Yousef Al Kandari, Vice Chairman & CEO of one of the leading FM companies, United Facilities Management, Kuwait says, “Engaging local universities and working with them to offer training and development programs, or multi-year apprenticeship programs for local engineers or technicians who are currently in similar fields but wanting to change career and enter the FM industry. Other efforts, such as the creation of local chapters and societies centered around the FM industry will assist in the hiring process and facilitate recruitment. In addition, a full onboarding programs ought to be implemented by FM companies to ensure effective training and solid retention of employees.
Continual socialization and mentoring programs are required in which employees are constantly exposed to company culture, vision, core values and performance measures. Such programs ensure that employees are not only an integral part of the FM company but also are part of the whole culture of the company.”
Challenges in the region
With the steady expansion of the FM industry in the Gulf region, the pressure on resource management which includes recruitment, training and retention continues to mount. It is not sufficient, like any other industry for FM companies to simply implement hiring strategies without the full implementation of comprehensive onboarding programs. Such programs, if implemented correctly will improve retention rate and reduce the time required for new hires to become productive. It is therefore crucial to adopt a hiring strategy that is linked to advanced training programs, beyond the traditional new hire training.
Nonetheless, implementing sound recruitment strategies in the Gulf region remains a challenge. “The lack of local talents specialized or experienced in facilities management forces FM companies to look abroad. This comes at a high price and not many FM companies can afford recruiting high caliber, high salary facility managers without impacting the bottom line. Local and regional FM companies ought to adopt two-pronged hiring strategies working in tandem. One that is categorized as short-term in which FM companies recruit experts from outside regions to fill key operational positions while the second is of a long-term nature in which young, promising talents are recruited locally that undertake comprehensive, effective and specialized training and are assumed to take on key roles in the FM operations,” adds Al Kandari.
Ahmad Yousef Al Kandari, Vice Chairman & CEO, United Facilities Management
James Newman, Recruitment
Consultant – Property and Facilities, Hays
Strategies to search the best
Hays is a leading global professional recruiting group who are the market leaders in the UK and Asia Pacific. Their Middle East office was founded in December 2005, which is headquartered in Dubai. “There are several strategies to acquiring the best talent in the region and surprisingly job boards are not the answer,” says James Newman, Recruitment Consultant – Property and Facilities of Hays. He further strongly suggests, “ It’s better to attend the events, not job fairs, the best candidates are already in roles or have just moved to the region so they will be attending and coordinating events, such as the FM Show in Dubai. Another thing you could try is to search candidates through social media like LinkedIn. It’s also relevant to consider previously rejected candidates, they make a great research tool, perhaps they didn’t have the right/local experience at the time but (potentially) now they do. You can also get referrals, these are a great source of research, incentivise your referees and you may be surprised what you come up with. Arrange conferences or group meeting places is yet another excellent way to interact, market products and carry out group interview techniques to quickly sift through local talent.”
Tom Loseby, Managing Consultant, FM/Contracting/
Technical/O+G, Charterhouse Recruitment
For the past ten years, Charterhouse has been operating across the UAE and GCC Markets. Tom Loseby Managing Consultant for FM/Contracting/Technical/O+G of Charterhouse recruitment company talks about hiring strategies, “Hiring strategies vary from company to company across the GCC. Some companies have no strategy whatsoever to attract the best talent and rely solely on recruitment companies to carry out this process for them. This is down to various reasons such as lack of long term planning and financial constraints impacting HR initiatives. Other companies are highly strategic and have made great strides in recruiting themselves using recruitment portals, in-house recruiters, career fairs and the impact of social media has made certain companies less reliant on specialist headhunters.
“Companies expect high levels of service, honesty, integrity and professionalism. With the economic downturn in recent years they are also expecting lower fees. However with the market on the rise again, employers need to be braced for an increase in fees due to the increase in demand of high quality staff across the GCC. With the market in Dubai and the GCC on the rise, the competition for high quality candidates also increases. With this, it starts to become a candidate driven market and salaries increase, putting pressure on the HR function to increase internal salaries,” he adds
Gary Segesdy, Division Manager
Engage Selection are specialists in recruiting within all commercial sectors including Facilities Management and they are a member of the Middle East Facility Management Association (MEFMA). “It is very reactive here in the Gulf region. People tend to hire from us when they have secured a contract or piece of work. White collar workers can come from anywhere, normally within the GCC region, often Europe. The vast majority of blue collar recruitment will be done in bulk from the subcontinent. Employer expectations tend to differ, this can be influenced by many things including the nature or seniority of the position or the technical challenges that the place of work can present. In general though we find employers often expect people to diversify beyond their job title by taking on additional responsibilities and to come in and ‘Hit the ground running’,” says Gary Segesdy, Division Manager of Engage.
Segesdy further adds, “The mechanics of good recruitment include: knowledge, communication, perception, depth of understanding, work ethic, etc. What has changed are the significant number of electronic and web-based recruitment tools that are readily available to anyone. This has created a huge number of inexperienced people who actively recruit. Although this has failed to eliminate the good recruiters it does create turbulence and distorted perceptions of both clients and candidates alike within the recruitment sector. This can mean a client believes there are a lot more people readily available for a role due to an excessive number of CVs submitted to them, often from a candidate who has a much higher salary expectation to what is actually on offer.”