Transforming our people culture at Facilities First

If there is one value we hold most dear at Facilities First, it is care. We show care in everything we do. We care about our clients. We care about doing a good job. And we care about our people who are out in the field delivering exceptional service every day.

2020 has been a challenging year for us all collectively and for our industry. Our people have stepped up… and so have we – to show them just how much we really care.

Support through COVID-19

The global pandemic hit our industry hard. Namely, because our team is at the frontline keeping schools, offices, aged care centres and other facilities clean.

From the very beginning of the pandemic, we have been focused on our team, and not just collectively. Where possible, we transitioned team members to new workplaces to ensure they had continuity of work. This was possible for 95% of our impacted staff.

Across the board, more than 2000 staff have completed infection control training. While this was mandatory for cleaners working in health and aged care environments, we offered this more broadly to ensure our people felt safe at work, equipped with the highest level of training.

A mindset of connectedness

In a year where social distancing has become the norm, at Facilities First we have never been more connected. And that comes down to a mindset shift that we have consciously and deliberately pushed through the organisation. As Janelle Dixon, General Manager – People, Communications and Integration, explains:

“This year we have taken an active and avid interest at an individual level within the team.

We have upskilled our managers to find the balance between the needs of clients and those of our people. This has given increased focus to the value of caring for our workforce at an individual level as well as a group level.

This is also about setting our people up for success. We want our team members to see the value of their transferable skills and really help them to identify what those skills are. When they move into a different role or area of the business, we are also doing a better job of giving them the support, training and encouragement they need to succeed.”

People and Culture Advisor Mariem Tokh adds that our workforce has benefited from a split between the HR and recruitment functions. Each team is able to focus on their area of expertise, allowing us to engage with staff to a greater level than before.

“Recruitment is now a far more consultative process at Facilities First. We are looking at ways we can support people to feel valued in their job and ultimately deliver great outcomes for our clients. We have particularly focused on an employee’s first 90 days with us.

The feedback has told us this is something that has made our new team members even more connected… and our clients derive so much benefit from a connected service delivery team.

In everything we do, we are looking at how we can support the business and managers to best support our people. And we take learnings from everything. This year has been a steep learning curve – our staffing numbers have seen a huge increase over the last 18 months – but we are so much more connected because of it.”

A group of women happily smiling at the camera

Redefining our employee benefits

It’s natural to focus on business growth by looking externally at our clients and new opportunities. But this year we have looked inward. We have taken a conscious approach to identify opportunities from within our business. And by doing this we have been able to review our employee benefits to make significant improvements to what we offer our people. As People and Culture Advisor Alanna Hudson explains:

“The focus has been on putting money back in the pockets of our people. One big piece of work we have done is to look at our partners and negotiate benefits we can extend to our workforce. This has resulted in new health fund, banking and fleet benefits. This is an area we will continue to challenge in, so we can derive benefits in the form of financial savings for our people.

Recently we also relaunched our EAP with a bigger, better and more relevant offering for our workforce. Because we spend so much time when connecting with our people, we knew that having external support is something that would be beneficial. With that information we built an EAP that would truly support their needs.

This isn’t just support with work issues or concerns but also money, stress, sleep and general mental health. This is more important than ever given the events of this year and how they have impacted people in all aspects of their lives.”

A diverse response for a diverse bunch

We couldn’t be prouder of the diversity of our workforce. While 48% of our workforce are Australian, we have high proportions of staff from Nepal, India and Thailand. Over 12% of our people are from a mix of nationalities. In our transformation work we very quickly realised that we weren’t meeting the needs of our diverse group of people.

“Based on the vast mix of cultures within our incredible workforce, we needed more focus on supporting their unique requirements. The diversity of our people is something we are really very proud of… and the changes we have made help us communicate more effectively with them so they know how much we value and support them,” says Janelle.

“We started with a relaunch of our Handbook and Code of Conduct. We rewrote all our policies and procedures into a more conversational tone that aligned with our brand. Most of our team members don’t work in a corporate environment, but the previous manual was very much in corporate speak – it just didn’t make sense.

A group of people smiling at the camera

We also now have a really clear picture of what our workforce looks like so we can support them with things like safety toolbox talks in the top languages spoken by our people. This is about giving people support to communicate with us without concern or barriers.”

2020 has certainly been an action packed year as we transform our people culture here at Facilities First. We have taken the distractions from the year and turned them into opportunities.

Nothing has stopped our internal growth across process improvement, learning and development and workforce innovation. The simplest things have made the biggest difference such as increased communication with our team, leading to greater connections.

The challenges of 2020 would have been much more difficult to face without this evolution in our business.

But this is only the beginning.

In 2021 we are going to dive deeper than we ever have before to continue to grow as individuals so we can grow together as a business.

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