ThinkFM 2016's theme sees speakers focused firmly on how FM can impact organisational productivity. Andrew Pring and Martin Read talk to some of the speakers who will make attending ThinkFM a productive decision in itself.
7 April 2016 | By Martin Read
Two things differentiate ThinkFM 2016 fro its two immediate predecessors: a new venue - it takes place this year at London's Milton Court - and the option to take part online.
These changes apart, the structure of the conference continues the single-stream, single-theme approach first adopted in 2014. It's a hugely successful formula, and this year you could argue that the value of attendance is intrinsically linked to the event's theme - productivity.
The event, headline sponsored by Sodexo, will examine the role of facilities management in unlocking organisational productivity.
The conference programme highlights the role of FM in enabling individual, team and organisational performance and the factors that affect it. ThinkFM will look at factors from wellbeing and happiness to smart workplaces and their influence on performance.
One of the key speakers, Dr Jill Miller from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), believes FMs have a very important role to play alongside HR in improving employee morale and wellbeing.
"A healthy workplace is vital for a sustainable productive business," says Miller.
"HR and FM have pivotal roles to play in making this a reality, along with leadership and management buy-in to the shared value that investing in wellbeing delivers."
Dr Miller's presentation - 'Setting an aspirational agenda for wellbeing that's good for employees and good for business' - will examine how the CIPD's wellbeing organisational framework can cut sickness absence costs, currently running at over £14 billion a year or £554 per employee.
She will outline the CIPD's belief that there is still considerable scope for wider and more integrated implementation of employee wellbeing initiatives in the workplace.
"The world of work is moving at an ever-faster pace," says Miller, "and pressing environmental factors such as the ageing population only increase the responsibility on employers to not only mitigate the workplace risks to, but optimise, people's health and wellbeing.
"We need to change the way we work, where we work and when we work. To date, only 8 per cent of employers have a wellbeing strategy, so there's a long way to go."
The benefits of adopting wellbeing programmes can be swift, says Dr Miller. "Sometimes, companies don't believe they'll get a quick payback from investing in wellbeing, so they don't bother. But that's wrong. Some steps can have an almost immediate effect and raise morale and encourage people to look after each other better.
"It's something all line managers should be aware of, including FMs who have a big role to play in helping people make adjustments to their work environment which can be good for self-esteem and morale."
Fellow speaker Professor Eugenio Proto from the University of Warwick and research associate at the Centre for Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy will be exploring the effect of happiness on productivity. A research project he has been involved with has shown happy employees are 12 per cent more productive. Following this, the project also looked at potential guidance for organisations striving to make their workplaces emotionally healthy for their workforce, which Proto will share with conference delegates.
On an appropriately light note, Proto talks of an experiment that showed how both happiness and productivity levels of employees rose after they were shown clips from a performance by the comedian Bill Bailey.
Proto says: "Workers' happiness should matter not just for morale reasons - if it boosts productivity, it boosts profit! Anything free (such as the 'nudge' approach) should be done, and costly policies might be worth it too.
"Management needs to appreciate that it is not a question of happiness versus profit (or life satisfaction versus economic growth). Both can and should move together."
The right conversations
Jacqueline Cupper is the head of service performance and development at GlaxoSmithKline, and she'll be speaking about productivity from the perspective of customer satisfaction and how organisations should measure it.
Inspired by a Harvard Business Review article headlined 'Stop trying to delight your customers', GSK worked recently with a customer research organisation on a global survey of its service users, establishing that "most people want a service to deliver right first time rather than be embellished with added extras of no tangible value to the customer".
Over recent months, GSK has rolled out a joint service provider / GSK improvement plan.
"I believe that in many service industries there's a real focus on customer satisfaction," says Cupper, "but that focus has tended to be on adding what I refer to as bells and whistles; putting flowers in a bathroom makes no difference if the bathroom isn't clean."
Coming from a retail background, Cupper set about looking at the problem differently. What services do people need to get the job done? What matters most to users? She will illustrate her point with examples from the GSK study.
"I'll talk about the impact of the survey, using case studies where we found out that, for example, we'd been asking the wrong questions. In some cases, what we were responding to was not a lack of satisfaction with services, but with the problem resolution process," says Cupper.
Other speakers confirmed for the event can be seen in the sidebar. This year, the productivity theme promises to make ThinkFM an event that pays for itself.
ThinkFM 2016: 18 May 2016 - at Milton Court in London, and online
This year's conference starts with a networking breakfast at 8:00am and closes with a drinks reception from 5:00pm.
For details on how to watch the live stream rather than attend in person, visit www.thinkfm.com/book/online-streaming/
Broadcaster and presenter Kirsty Lang is this year's conference facilitator, while BIFM chairman Julie Kortens will open the conference and set out the context of productivity for the day.
Below are the details of presentations confirmed as of 30th March - but check www.thinkfm.com for the latest details.
'How the National Grid boosted performance through smart workspace' - Simon Carter, head of corporate property, National Grid
How National Grid has transformed how its employees work
How a redesign has put employees first and foremost, enabling them to work more collaboratively and productively
How a well-functioning workspace can contribute to staff productivity, collaboration, wellbeing, recruitment and retention
'Think Productively and Brilliantly Every Day' - Katie Ledger, senior practitioner, Complete Coherence
The science behind self-leadership
How the best leaders think about personal performance
How you can step change your own ability, control your own biology, and regain the energy levels you had 10 years ago
'Why doing the basics brilliantly adds real strategic value' - Jacqueline Cupper, head of service performance and development, worldwide real estate and facilities, GlaxoSmithKline
How to meet customer needs rather than wants
How to determine what matters most to service users
'Productivity: Our problem, their problem or your problem?' - Polly Plunket-Checkemian, commercial property consultant
How the workplace relates to Britain's productivity challenge
What productivity means in the UK's knowledge economy
The barriers, challenges and opportunities available to firms from workplace management and trends
'Setting an aspirational agenda for wellbeing that's good for employees and good for business' - Jill Miller, research associate, CIPD
The drivers making wellbeing an integral business focus
CIPD's wellbeing framework for a healthy organisation
Key challenges and opportunities for HR and facilities management professionals
'Some firms say they care about the wellbeing and 'happiness' of their employees. But are such claims hype, or scientific good sense?' - Eugenio Proto, associate professor, at the University of Warwick
How lower happiness is associated with lower productivity
The causal link between wellbeing and performance.