The IWFM’s annual general meeting, held yesterday, saw the institute talk of a year of consolidation following its 2018 name change – and a focus on activities that help IWFM pursue its core purpose.
The overall theme of 2019 has been about consolidation,” said IWFM chairman Martin Bell. “We saw caution in decision making at all levels, and caution in the spending behaviour of our customers and partners."
The Institute had responded in innovative and creative ways, said Bell, both in retaining and attracting income in areas that it would previously have taken for granted.
2019 also saw IWFM’s 2017 investments in new technology and systems bearing more fruit with the institute’s website undergoing further enhancement, said Bell who lauded the systems’ impact in improving the service offered to members and IWFM’s overall business efficiency.
“Had we not made key investments in technology back in 2018, we would have been in a very different place in 2020 when the lockdown happened and we became a fully remote operation overnight, without skipping a beat.”
Also key to 2019 performance was the ramping up of IWFM’s insight capabilities. Bell spoke of how IWFM has been “building a solid research and policy base for a number of years”.
Bell said IWFM’s insight delivery “needs to grow and flourish if we are to be effective, authoritative and influential in the profession and beyond it. Insight is a fundamental building block for our Institute, yet it requires time and investment".
Citing commercial partnerships that are enabling IWFM to extend its capabilities and reach, Bell argued that the profession benefits “because it helps us to influence our external environment by increasing our authority on matters including building better workplaces, building safety, making a difference through social value, and more.
These partnerships, added Bell, “help prime us for our long-term goal of chartership and help us to build a sustainable business".
He said: "Our target remains chartership. That’s what our members want, and everything we do is geared towards that long-term aim. We are raising our voice beyond our traditional territory so that there can be no doubt that a chartered workplace and facilities profession is in the public interest.”
Responding to a question from the audience about membership numbers, the chairman spoke of the current rolling membership as being just over 14,000.
"When we look at our membership and to the future, we see a number of reasons to be positive”.
With 75 per cent of current members aged between 45 and 70, “we need to think about the context of our overall membership and what type of professional body we want to be for the future”.
The IWFM rebrand has opened the institute up to new members “coming from areas we wouldn’t have seen before” and has helped IWFM improve its membership retention rates during 2020.
Members are also upgrading their membership status in greater numbers, with over 1,000 doing so in 2019.
“We are growing members at professional grades by attracting more, retaining more and upgrading more,” Bell noted.
"In 2017, 21 per cent of new joiners were professional grades. In 2019 that figure was 25 per cent. Two years ago, one in five new members joined at a professional grade, today it is one in four. And we are focussed on increasing that number."
Chief executive Linda Hausmanis also spoke of the changing commercial environment in which IWFM is now operating.
“We have intentionally repurposed our Institute to help reposition the facilities profession to realise its very real opportunity and be fit for the 21st century world of work,” said Hausmanis. “We’ve seen that no more starkly than in the experience of the last seven months.
”I am extremely proud that in this very difficult time we have produced more content, been more relevant, been more visible and been there for our members than at any other time in our history.”