Industry Culture in FM - Professionalism & Partnership vs. Rip-off & Exploitation

GEFMA Lounge as a panel discussion at the TH Nuremberg

On 19.04.2018, the GEFMA Lounge Bayern-Nürnberg implemented a completely new event format: a podium discussion. The topic was the sector culture in the FM: professionalism & partnership vs. rip-off & exploitation. How do we want to conduct business in the future?

Leading the discussion, Ulrich Glauche (Rödl & Partner) sensitized discussion participants and audiences with his keynote speech in which he said that the years of initial euphoria (1994-1996) were followed by years of disillusionment. The FM market as a whole (by volume and number of employees) and the GEFMA had developed positively. Unsatisfactory self- and external-perceptions however remain intact (Image, INservFM, policy). The sector lacks its own training profession and it will have to cope with increasing skills shortages, price dumping, under performance, and ever shorter contract timescales. Last but not least, he reflected on the exploitation of suppliers and employees, the cycle of mutual blame between AG and DL, and the wide-spread tolerance of violations of law, e.g., minimum wage legislation.

Prof. Klaus Heying (Technical University of Nuremberg) steered and enriched the discussion with his excellent moderation. Anke Klein (Brochier), Boris Blum (NUREMBERGER), Jochen Meier (Dorfner), Hans-Peter Klein-Schell (adidas), Prof. Klaus Heying (TH Nuremberg), Richard Weller (Alpha IC), Andreas Wokittel (SPIE), Ulrich Glauche (Rödl & Partner), Sebastian Hölzlein (Alpha IC) and René Hessenauer (Airport Nurem-berg) participated in the podium discussion.

In his function as a moderator, Prof. Heying asked critical questions of the participants: how do we address the FM industry image and sector behavior issues?

All podium participants recognised the description of the FM sector. A profound commitment to FM and thus confident professionalism was evident in the discussion.

How do we deal with the shortage of skilled workers?

Is the FM an attractive market for workers? Are salaries high enough? Are the opportunities of interest to skilled workers?  Podium participants answered these in the affirmative and supported their assessment with interesting practical examples. Klein also asserted that FM apprenticeships could help meet the demand for qualified experts in technical plant engineering. Glauche said the service robots would not come into use in time to catch up on the skills shortage. Nevertheless, the industry can become more attractive to potential applicants and the next generation.

How do we design future tendering processes that do not focus solely on price?

"Too many working in procurement have too much power." A possible way out of this dilemma is in the assignment of contracts to service providers: offers based on low-paid work must be rejected "said Wokittel. Weller confirms that the quality suffers as a consequence of low prices. Citing Adidas as an example, Klein-Schell pleaded for open-book models that consider both sides to the contract according to a transparent procedure. External consultants can act as mediators in such cases. Hessenauer made it clear that, in addition to the price, further qualitative criteria should be included in a value-oriented bidding process, e.g. corporate culture, staffing, and references. Other options would be approaches such as in Switzerland or Swe-den where the most expensive and the cheapest offers are eliminated in the first step.

How do we make the FM industry "sexy"?

Blum and Klein-Schell confirmed that from the point of view of some clients, FM is regarded as secondary to their company's main purpose. Heying made the point that taking FM for granted should not lead to secondary procedures. A primary process-oriented and self-confident approach to performance is needed on the service provider side. According to Hölzlein, the goal must be to emphasize the great importance of the influence of the FM on the corporate purpose. A second-ary status does not mean to it should be ranked as second to other functions: FM itself adds value. Weller also emphasized the great potential for positive social and environmental effects from FM. Tradition and appreciation of value also play a major role at Dorfner due to its background as a family business. Also the term ‘facility management’, which is often equated with janitorial activities, was discussed. At Adidas, for example, the FM department is now called "Global Workplaces".

The FM industry needs to rethink: initiate image campaign focusing on young and innovative target groups approach with an increased appreciation of people and their activities in the FM environment.

Which conclusion do we draw?

In spite of the different perspectives, all participants were united on one point: working in the FM sector is fun, the work has many facets and offers a wide range of innovative development opportunities, especially with regard to digital transformation. Due to the market development, the FM industry is already benefiting from increased recognition and a higher status. The participants are convinced that a stronger internal positioning in the industry resulting in more self-confidence would have positive effects how the sector is perceived.

Ulrich Glauche


Prof. Klaus Heying




































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