Investing in colleague wellbeing

People are our most valuable asset, so safeguarding their mental health and wellbeing should be a top priority for contract cleaning management, says Jan-Hein Hemke, MD of Facilicom UK.

Within the contract cleaning world, it’s no secret that cleaning operatives are one of the most essential parts of a company’s daily operation, and without them their business could grind to a halt.

However, for many years now, the cleaning sector has been viewed by those outside the industry as short-termist, low skilled and poorly paid. Many cleaning operatives feel undervalued and unappreciated.

This was sadly confirmed in the UK Equality and Human Rights Commission’s paper, The Invisible Workforce: Practices in the Cleaning Sector, which suggested that cleaner’s work often goes unnoticed and many feel they are treated with a lack of dignity and respect. Even TV drama, Cleaning Up, which aired early last year, portrayed the cleaning workforce as so invisible that they could carry out crimes without being suspected.

The reality is, our nation’s cleaners are out there on the frontline day in day out, providing vital services to ensure our workplaces, hospitals, schools, transport and public places are kept clean and hygienic. They really are our prime asset, so safeguarding their wellbeing and ensuring they are in the best frame of mind to deliver their role is vital.

Of course, as with any industry, the job comes with its challenges. Many cleaners often work long, unsociable hours and shifts, which can make it hard to manage a positive work-life balance and enjoy home life. There are many occupational-related factors that can impact on a colleague’s wellbeing, so it is crucial that management have policies and procedures in place to look after their teams’ mental health.

At Facilicom, our company motto is ‘Happy People Make Happy People’. This may sound simplistic to some, but when you think about it, it’s really important. We believe that, by investing in everyone’s wellbeing, we achieve a positive workforce and our clients receive a much better service. To me, having a strong employee wellbeing strategy in place is as important as having a robust business plan.


We have created numerous schemes and incentives to ensure that all workers feel valued and supported when at work. From the ‘Facilicom Awards’, which aim to recognise and thank our colleagues that go that little bit further than ‘just doing their job’, to our Employee Assistance Programme, which provides 24/7 quick access to counselling, where staff can discuss any physical, mental, social or financial issues, we have created a compassionate health and wellbeing network.

We have also developed a training and development programme that not only supports our cleaners in their professional role, but also equips them with skills that can be transferred to their personal lives. We offer all our colleagues training in ‘Hostmanship’ (‘the art of making people feel welcome’). This not only helps build the confidence of our staff to communicate and engage with their peers, clients and customers effectively, but is also a way that, as a business, we can add value to our clients.

By developing and honing peoples’ interpersonal skills, a caring, yet professional, approach is introduced to our work. Colleagues are more motivated and committed to their tasks and have a better understanding of a client’s needs.

In return for these investments, we have seen low levels of absenteeism, increased staff retention and high levels of job fulfilment. This has led to better teamwork, service provision and greater client satisfaction. We have placed wellbeing at the heart of our operations and we firmly believe that if we take care of our people, they will take care of our business for many years to come.

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