How facilities managers can help retain staff and attract talent

Image: Freepik

Image: Freepik

Published Jul 25, 2023


Andile Mgudlwa

There is very little doubt that dealing with the global pandemic resulted in a significant shift in how we perceive our workplaces. While society as a whole seems to have gone back to how things were before March 2020, the workforce and the businesses they are employed by seem to be divided on how best to move forward.

Employers are on a drive to get people back to the office for better corporate culture and face-to-face collaboration. Workers on the other hand seem to be torn between the flexibility that comes with working remotely (and the resultant savings on transport costs) and missing the in-person interaction they have with their colleagues when they are at the office.

Hybrid working arrangements seem to be the solution that more employers are adopting to address these different needs.

Most companies have put policies and incentives in place to entice people to spend some time at the office, with the option of working from home on selected days. Some of these initiatives are starting to produce the desired results - however a large part of the working population has found it difficult to abandon the comfort of their home offices.

For a significant shift to happen there needs to be a re-think in how the office is currently perceived. Insisting on keeping the office set up the way it has always been is not an option anymore. In order to attract and retain key talent, employers need to come up with innovative ways to address the needs of the increasingly young workforce.

Companies are now increasingly looking towards facility managers to support them in developing workspaces that will provide the required balance and keep people engaged. This has resulted in a shift in the traditional role of a facilities manager; a shift referred to as “basement-to-boardroom”. Facilities management is now seen as one of the levers that employers can use to drive this strategy and deliver the required results.

Facilities managers who used to focus only on maintenance and the provision of services are now spending more time thinking about enhancing the experience of people working and visiting their facilities.


Companies now look to facilities managers to understand the needs of their employees as well as clients, and tailor the workplace environment to meet their combined needs. In order to remain competitive in the current talent war, a company’s employee value proposition needs to stand out above the competition. Facilities managers together with their clients need to constantly keep asking themselves what the future of working in an office building looks like.

Facilities managers have a number of tools available in their toolbox to support an organisation in meeting its strategic goals. Some these tools include:

Focus on the experience

Consider what the employees need and want in a workplace environment. It could be a comfortable work area, an inspiring view, or a quiet space to work. Tailor the workplace environment to meet these needs.

Create a healthy workplace

A healthy workplace environment is attractive to potential employees. Ensure that the workplace is clean and hygienic, and provide access to healthy food and snacks. Encourage employees to take breaks and provide opportunities for physical activity.

Provide a modern work environment

A modern workplace environment is essential to attract new talent. Consider providing up-to-date technology, ergonomic chairs and desks, and advanced software applications.

Encourage collaboration

Employees want to work in a collaborative environment. Provide opportunities for team building and encourage cross-functional collaboration. Use collaboration friendly workspaces to encourage informal conversations and knowledge-sharing.

Promote work-life balance

Promote a healthy work-life balance by providing flexible working arrangements, such as remote work on certain days, flexible hours, or part-time work.

Encourage employees to take time off and provide opportunities for training and development.

Deciding which is the best tool to reach the strategic goal will depend on the company’s specific requirements at the time, and these will evolve as the company’s strategy evolves.

Facility managers and facilities management providers therefore need to keep their fingers on the pulse to ensure that the workplace experience is in line with the company’s requirements and meets the ever-changing requirements of the workforce.

  • Andile Mgudlwa is MD of Facilities Management Division at Empact Group.