Maxwell Stephens

FMs in Healthcare: What skills are required for this challenging sector?

FM in Healthcare

Peter Forshaw, Managing Director of Maxwell Stephens, recently spoke with Facilitate magazine to discuss Facilities Management in the Healthcare sector, particularly what skills are required for this industry and how transferable these can be:

What skills should healthcare FMs be focusing on to thrive in the sector? How fluid is this focus?

We are all well aware of the pressures being exerted on the healthcare sector, particularly the NHS, so it takes a particular kind of FM to thrive in this environment. Healthcare FMs tend to have a very wide remit which requires skills and knowledge in a range of areas, yet some of the key attributes to develop include the following:

  • People Management – Obviously the significance of people management skills vary depending on seniority and environment, however we’ve found that the vast majority of Healthcare FMs need to manage people effectively. This is particularly important in healthcare where unionization is far more prevalent than in other sectors. This often requiring a diplomatic approach to people management that many FMs may not be used to or capable of.


  • Disaster Recovery – This is a vital function of any FMs role, however in a healthcare setting, the repercussions of disaster recovery planning and preparedness can quite literally be life and death. This inherently adds pressure to an FMs role in healthcare and requires a particularly cool head.


  • Cost/Budget Management – If we take the NHS as an example, it’s clear to see why budget management skills are an important weapon in a healthcare FM’s arsenal. With such tight budgetary constraints, it is often the job of the FM to find cost savings wherever they can. This often requires a cutthroat approach when it comes to areas such as contract negotiations and staff restructuring, and not everyone has the stomach for that.



How does working in healthcare benefit the career paths of FMs that move into other sectors? What are the key transferable skills?

As healthcare is such a specialized sector, there is always the potential for typecasting either through internal or external perceptions. In my experience, despite having some very specific areas of knowledge, healthcare FMs can very successfully transfer into other sectors.

  • Firstly, due to the expansive remit of FMs in healthcare, they often develop knowledge of numerous business functions that aren’t sector specific (Health and Safety, Finance, Security, Building Management, Soft Services). This provides an excellent grounding in many aspects of Facilities Management, a grounding which can be built upon in any sector, not just healthcare.


  • Working in the healthcare sector can really help FMs to develop a thicker skin. Union disputes; strikes; staff restructuring; contagion outbreaks; there are innumerable threats lurking within a healthcare setting that FMs may need to deal with. Dealing with issues like these on a regular basis means that healthcare FMs develop a high level of professional composure that FMs in other sectors may not.