Recruiting the right people can be a challenge but a strong team helps build a company's capabilities.
"To ensure an adequate number of property managing team members, we seek out high potential individuals proactively," says Celin Leung, director, human resources & work environment, ISS Facilities Services Ltd. "Some of them may not necessarily have any work experience in this field, but we focus in on high-quality people at the very outset of our recruitment process."
ISS' business portfolio comprises the management of commercial and residential buildings. Meeting clients' needs is of the utmost importance and so the company aims to recruit well-rounded people and then develop their management capability to handle situational events in a competent manner.
Career fast track
"Once we have successfully taken on new staff, they are put through an intensive training programme that will enable them to perform their duties well," Ms Leung says. "In addition, we cultivate a healthy corporate culture that promotes open and transparent communication. This assures our workforce that assistance is always at hand."
Senior ISS team members are always available to lend a hand to staff needing assistance with problem solving. The company also provides its property managers with back-office support in technology, training and administrative areas, which then frees managers to focus on their main tasks. Managers are also given the flexibility to make their own decisions. "We want our people to be aware that they can take ownership of their own development and create their own career paths. Such practice helps our staff feel that they are in control of their work," Ms Leung emphasises.
As well as offering vocational training, ISS has launched a unique open-based learning programme that is continuously being reviewed. This year, a new module in risk and crisis management is available for all staff. Interested individuals can sign up for the course and complete it via the Internet. The company keeps track of participants' learning progress through an examination at the end of the four-week course. To gauge the boarder effectiveness of the programme, ISS tracks the number of training days each employee has participated in.
Although substantial resources are spent on developing these courses, Ms Leung believes the investment is worth it, considering the greater knowledge among employees. "Our philosophy is to help staff develop their talent at all levels. We have a culture of internal promotion so that succession is an opportunity and not a threat," she says. "To maintain and uphold a learning culture, our policies are based on our belief that you create your own destiny and we are here to help you achieve this."
Because of ISS' sizeable operation, practical and efficient systems are crucial to the competitiveness of company. For example, it is necessary that the key positions at each management level are identified.
Consequently, the communication of business strategies and tactics to all levels within the company is a key activity for managers. This important information is channelled through both formal and informal routes. For example, at the annual company dinner at the beginning of the year, ISS recaps the previous year's successes and lays out the current year's strategic actions so that all employees understand the company's direction for the period ahead.
"We usually conduct weekly briefings and meetings with site managers and building staff to discuss incident and emergency queries," Ms Leung explains. Our appointed team leaders talk about such issues with the managers and advise them on the best ways to handle them. At team-leader level we hold bi-monthly meetings, and between three to six meetings annually with top management."
Since 2005, ISS Hong Kong has increased its workforce by an impressive 66 per cent. The company now employs more than 10,000 staff and the number is still growing rapidly. "In spite of our huge staff count, our employees deserve individual treatment, and the opportunity to prosper in our organisation," Ms Leung concludes.