EX and Facilities Management Expo in 2020

Everybody in business today is talking or has spoken about “the experience”, be it CX (Customer Experience), or UX (User Experience). Whichever way we look at things, it’s becoming very clear that success in anything these days relies on the big X.

Customers are seeking better experiences from the businesses they support, be this in dealing with their online complaints department or browsing their web sites. If the experience isn’t flawless, the customer is potentially lost. People are impatient and demanding, and in today’s world where businesses are competing ferociously, they can afford to be.

This is no different when we start talking about EX (Employee Experience), says Sven Smit, Event Director at Specialised Exhibitions, a part of the Montgomery Group. He says, “In fact, when you consider some of the dire employee-related statistics discussed in a recent Forbes blog, it very quickly becomes clear that EX is going to be vital to retaining staff going forward because, despite our uncomfortably high unemployment statistics, today’s employee no longer just stays.”

In fact, Forbes tells us that:

The Gallup organisation says that nearly 70 percent of employees are actively disengaged.
Global studies reveal that 79 percent of people who quit their jobs cite “lack of appreciation” as their reason for leaving.
The Conference Board tells us 53 percent of people are currently unhappy at work.

The good news is that facilities managers (FMs) can be encouraged to change a few important business aspects that, in turn, transform the way employees view the workplace, which can assist in alleviating at least some of the retention challenges.

FMs who understand that their role now incorporates facilitating and managing the employee experience will already understand what’s important to employees where the workplace is concerned. This of course varies from generation to generation, but a few things remain consistent. Access to working technology, company culture and employee engagement activities may be the first things that come to mind and these are all valid factors. Additionally, according to Harvard Business Review, when it comes to the place they work, employees value the basics: better air quality, access to natural light and the ability to personalise their workspace.

“Half of the employees surveyed said poor air quality makes them sleepy during the day and over one-third report up to an hour in lost productivity as a result,” says Smit. “This means a solid FM – one who designs his workplace with employee requirements in mind incorporating natural light, good ventilation and comfortable temperatures – can majorly affect the company’s bottom line.

“Research shows that employees who are happy with their work environment take less time off (up to four days less per year), are 16 percent more productive, 18 percent more likely to stay and 30 percent more attracted to their company over competitors.”

This kind of research shows us exactly how vital the FM function is to employee retention, Smit continues. Real life examples of this include:

Hewlett Packard Enterprise headquarters, which has managed to help employees control the noise level in an open floor plan (one-third of respondents in the HBR study said noise distractions have a negative effect on their ability to concentrate). The Hewlett Packard FM team designed the building to manage ambient sound, reducing workers’ distraction.
Regeneron Pharmaceuticals has gone a step further, allowing employees to control the amount of natural light streaming through the glass of their office windows using a cell phone app.
Cisco has managed the acoustic levels in its space by creating a floor plan without assigned seating that includes “neighbourhoods” of workspaces designed specifically for employees collaborating in teams, working remotely, or alone.

“As it seems EX is primarily influenced by the physical environment in which people work, and the FM oversees nearly every aspect of this environment, it is they who hold the keys to achieving a balanced and considered EX strategy that works,” concludes Smit.

EX, the physical workplace, and strategies and trends that affect FMs and the broader industry will all be focus areas at this year’s Facilities Management Expo 2020, which will run alongside Securex South Africa 2020, Firexpo and A-OSH Expo 2020 between 02 and 04 June 2020 at Gallagher Convention Centre in Johannesburg.