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Leadership on the field: Integrating sustainability into the core of all FM business models. By Sunil Shah

03-05-16, 15:53

Sustainability SIGAs part of his reflections on 10 years of BIFM's Sustainability in FM survey, Sunil Shah, Director, at Acclaro Advisory and Chair of the BIFM Sustainability Special Interest Group, discusses the challenges to implementing business models that integrate sustainability with their core business.

"Sustainability remains a major issue for organisations. In 2015, 81% of senior executives rated it as extremely or very important, although this fell to 61% of middle managers and 63% of frontline managers. This broad trend has not significantly changed over the past years.

There were differences when it came to assessing which areas of sustainability were important related to the role of individuals. Maintaining or enhancing the brand was important to everyone as would be expected. Frontline managers focused in particular on legislative compliance and good resource management, whereas meeting customer expectations was important for more senior managers. This difference in priorities between executive management and their teams shows a need for greater alignment and communication of both rationale and priorities for sustainability programmes. From a behavioural perspective it underpins the key drivers for these groups and the 'what's in it for me' requirement.

The main barriers to effective implementation of sustainability within organisations have commonly seen either physical or financial constraints as the major issue, aligning with the ability to raise finances. In 2008, organisational engagement was considered to be one of the least important barriers to sustainability, cited by 20% of respondents. In 2015, it is the next most significant barrier, identified by nearly 70%.

All these measures point towards a challenge within organisations about how best to integrate sustainability from a bolt on activity that is being delivered by front line staff towards a business model with integrates sustainability at its core. Interestingly, there are no FM providers who have performed this task.

Can the FM industry fill the sustainability performance gap?

Together with data from previous years, benchmark trends and progress has been captured to understand how the subject of sustainability has developed and affected the FM sector through the economic crisis and the subsequent political changes.

Businesses are finding it increasingly difficult to implement and manage sustainability policies. Just 40% of respondents said they thought their organisation was very good or excellent at implementing sustainability measures, compared to 60% last year and 43% in 2013. A longer term trend from 2007 shows confidence increasing from the mid-20's as business is more comfortable with the language.

It is vital that the profession debates how it can address these gaps in sustainability performance. There is an opportunity for FM to fill this space and effectively engage with both the executive management and wider business.

2015's survey revealed three key areas where facilities managers can focus their efforts to begin to address this challenge:

  • leadership;
  • making the business case for sustainability; and
  • collaboration.

To share your views on sustainability priorities and practices in FM, please take part in the BIFM Sustainability in FM survey 2016.†

This survey is open until 13 May 2016.† All practitioners from any organisation in the FM industry including full and single-line service providers, suppliers and consultants are invited to have their say.† This survey takes just a few minutes to complete.

> Take part here

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