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Unmanageable workloads leading to errors for almost a third of FM professionals

Published On: November 24, 2023


New research conducted by Watco, a leading manufacturer and supplier of industrial maintenance materials, has revealed that nearly one in three facilities management (FM) professionals are making mistakes due to unmanageable workloads.

The survey, which involved 250 FM professionals, found that 26 percent of respondents feel stressed at work, as they face increasing challenges in the industry, including a skills shortage, supply chain issues, and pressure to enhance the overall workplace experience.

The study also discovered that 29 percent of respondents have experienced an increase in their workload over the past year, and 28 percent admitted to frequently making mistakes because they have too much on their plate. Additionally, 32 percent stated that stress often makes them contemplate leaving their role.

These findings not only pose problems for the smooth and safe operations of facilities but also result in significant costs for businesses. The Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) annual report in 2022 highlighted that almost one million workers in Great Britain suffer from work-related illnesses caused by stress, depression, and anxiety. Moreover, stress-induced absences cost employers over £5 billion annually.

Lisa O’Neill, Group Marketing Director at Watco, commented on the research, stating, “We understand that FMs cannot be expected to solve every challenge they face. However, the research reveals a common trend of tasks and responsibilities becoming increasingly unmanageable. Therefore, a shift in approach, such as incorporating simple tools like a maintenance checklist, can help prevent minor issues from escalating into significant problems, ultimately allowing for better control of growing to-do lists. This can save money on repairs and free up time for more complex tasks and priorities, such as health and safety.”

The survey also uncovered that despite the current difficulties in sourcing skilled workers and accessing labor pools from the EU, as reflected in the Institute of Workplace and Facilities Management (IWFM) 2022 report, less than a quarter of businesses (22 percent) prioritize investing in the workplace experience. Additionally, over 60 percent of respondents reported feeling undervalued by their employers.

O’Neill further stated, “Considering the bigger picture, steps must be taken to ensure the safe and smooth operation of facilities while navigating the skills shortage. FMs need to support their existing employees while working to enhance the overall workplace experience. This can include addressing workloads, offering professional development through industry resources, and demonstrating a commitment to safety regulations and legislation, such as the Disability Discrimination Act, to ensure that the facility fosters a sense of happiness and safety among all employees.”

The research also highlighted additional challenges within the sector, revealing that only a fraction of FM professionals prioritize the necessary tasks to maintain smooth operations amid ongoing supply chain disruptions. When ranking their top three priorities, respondents indicated the following:

  • Working effectively with different parts of the supply chain (21 percent)
  • Controlling costs (14 percent)
  • Managing administrative tasks, such as policy documents (14 percent)

O’Neill concluded, “Given the relentless challenges faced by FMs, it is no surprise that mistakes are being made and improvements are sought. Our research has shed light on the extensive range of responsibilities that must be managed to ensure a safe and well-maintained facility, as well as the role FMs play in this. Our new report, part of our ongoing Lifting the Lid series, will provide readers with the knowledge and suggestions necessary to better manage costs and regain control of workloads, ultimately enhancing the overall workplace experience.”

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