The International Facility Management Association is pleased to announce the results of its most recent “Facilities Snapshot” poll, a quarterly survey of IFMA members that highlights the latest developments affecting the profession and serves as a barometer of facility management activity worldwide.

The survey asks a sample of facility professionals a series of identical questions every three months, with the intent of monitoring changes over time. It includes questions on topics such as space management, staffing and service provision, spending, facility planning, sustainability and current events impacting the present and future of the industry.

Results for the third quarter show a slight increase in facility management hiring, with 20 percent of respondents reporting that they will hire facility staff within the next six months, up from 16 percent last quarter.

Health care and education are the industry sectors showing the greatest potential for growth. While most survey respondents report only modest — if any — plans to expand the space they manage over the next six months, 47 percent of health care facility professionals say their organizations plan to expand. Education, on the other hand, is the industry sector that promises to do the most hiring, as 32 percent of respondents say their organizations plan to hire additional facilities staff over the next six months.

Overall, companies are staying on the move, though the majority of these moves are internal. Survey results show increased activity related to placement of workers and space, as 51 percent of respondents report movement activity, up from 47 percent last quarter. Mergers and acquisitions play a role in this movement, as some companies cite acquiring competitors and absorbing their employees as reason for their greater-than-average quarterly churn rate.

Most survey respondents report a similar level of commitment to sustainable initiatives as last quarter, with energy conservation remaining the primary organizational goal. As one would expect, bigger companies with larger portfolios are more apt to invest capital in their sustainability programs. The exception, however, is city and county facilities, which report having plans to expand their sustainability efforts across a number of different categories over the next six months.

Because facilities’ physical appearance, amenities and operational impact affect a company’s ability to recruit and retain top talent, the survey also asked participants what their organizations were doing to become or remain employers of choice. Their responses were put into six categories: providing an amenity rich environment; implementing alternative work strategies; altering current physical space; moving toward more sustainable practices; enhancing training; and improving customer service and communication.

Their feedback shows that employers are undertaking a broad range of activities to create a unique work environment for their employees. Amenities include fitness centers, massage chairs, pool and ping pong tables, and even game rooms featuring Nintendo Wiis. Alternative work strategies cited include developing more collaborative space and implementing 9/80 work schedules. Many report altering their physical space by “opening up” areas and improving lighting. And increasingly, employers and facility professionals are recognizing that implementing sustainable practices creates an attractive culture for prospective employees.

“With so many initiatives being driven by facilities departments, we are encouraged to see the uptick in hiring,” said Shari Epstein, IFMA’s director of research. “Facility managers are paving the way to making the companies they work for employers of choice by offering thoughtfully designed workspaces and desired amenities, allowing their organizations to attract and retain the best and brightest talent.”

The full “Facilities Snapshot – 3rd Quarter 2010” survey report is available online at no cost.