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The recent EHRC report into the cleaning sector brought into focus the role of cleaning operatives, and how they feel about

the work they do. Some cleaners said they felt as though they were the ‘lowest of the low’, as a result of treatment by ‘supervisors, the client, and the public’.

Dignity and respect is important in all walks of life and a lot of the anecdotal evidence from cleaners made for uncomfortable reading. There’s

no excuse for any individual being bullied or treated in a way that makes them feel undervalued, but this is quite often down to individuals who interact with cleaners rather than any systemic malpractice.

But one of the more positive aspects of the report was the evidence from the front line that training initiatives are highly valued and make employees feel good about themselves. The BCC is at the forefront of pushing for training across the sector, and we are glad the report picked up on this as it’s something positive we can do to help front line staff.

It’s initiatives like training, advancements in technology and daytime cleaning that are helping to make life better for those working at the coal face. The Living Wage can also make a huge difference, again something the BCC is campaigning solidly for. There are also numerous award schemes to acknowledge great workers, ABCD for instance has just launched it’s Cleaner of the Year Award for this very reason.

Over the years cleaning has changed, and new technology will change it even further, but some front line jobs can be tough and demanding and we should make sure these workers do feel valued and respected. The BCC looks forward to joining other industry stakeholders in the EHRC’s taskforce to look at some of the issues in the report, and to ultimately make life better for cleaners on the front line.

But we also have to do more to educate other support workers about the value the cleaning team brings to an organisation. Without them the company couldn’t operate, and we need to make other workers realise this, and to treat cleaners as a valued part of the team – as a happier work force will deliver a better quality of service.

Lee Baker, Media and Policy Manager, British Cleaning Council

earing in mind the recent r quality of life, are we nise the talent and hard hin the cleaning sector?

As members of the cleaning industry themselves, readers of this publication will not need persuading that the majority of employees

within the sector are talented and hard working. They are the front line troops, delivering essential services to the public, not only safeguarding health and well-being, but making our environment cleaner and more aesthetically pleasing.

There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that employees within the

cleaning industry need to receive far more recognition for the work they do. Our sector shows its appreciation through schemes such as the Loo of The Year Award, and the Golden Service Awards, and I feel privileged to be able to attend these events and hear the stories behind each individual’s or initiative’s success. Watching the sheer delight on the faces of cleaning teams when their names are called out is highly gratifying, and shows how motivating recognition can be.

I believe that contract cleaning companies should take inspiration from this and start their own internal awards schemes, if they haven’t already. These can be as low-key or lavish as budgets or circumstances allow. It could be as simple as a

monthly mention for a ‘star’ employee in the internal newsletter or company website, maybe progressing to an annual gala event where the employee of the year is announced.

Recognising good work, commitment and excellent customer service is a great way to motivate staff and inspire loyalty – making it a win-win situation for both employers and employees. So, when you know someone has done a good job, make sure they know it, and be sure to share their success with their peers and colleagues in whatever way you can.

Ceris Burns, Managing Director, Ceris Burns International


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