Blog | Cleaning under the spotlight

28 January 2019

The spotlight has been shining on the cleaning sector recently, thanks to the new TV drama, ‘Cleaning Up’ – and it has certainly got the industry talking! After the first show aired, many of my colleagues expressed their delight that the profile of our essential, but often overlooked, workforce was being raised. This was equally matched, however, by their disappointment of its portrayal of the industry in such a poor light. A bully boss, untrustworthy operatives doing the bare minimum, with ‘couldn’t care less’ attitudes, and poor techniques just isn’t true to reality. The colouring-in of a difficult-to-remove stain in particular made me laugh out loud at how far removed from real-life this drama is!

Of course, I understand that this is fiction and all of these elements help to build a compelling story. Without the cleaner (who incidentally also has a gambling addiction) taking advantage of her ‘invisible’ status to find out company secrets and conduct insider trading, there would be no show. In spite of this, however, the drama has raised important issues around working conditions, pay and ultimately, the perception of professional cleaning operatives as an undervalued workforce.

At Facilicom, we firmly believe that our cleaning colleagues are an integral part of our company’s daily operation, and without them our service would grind to a halt. We therefore strive to make things better, not just for our own employees, but for all of our colleagues across the industry, and ensure that the cleaning teams across the country receive the respect and admiration that they deserve.

We played a key role as a member of the Cleaning Taskforce, an industry-led action group, formed by the Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) to increase visibility and improve working conditions for cleaning operatives across the sector; and we continue to show our commitment by endorsing the EHRC’s pledge. Ways in which we do this include:

  • Offering Hostmanship training, to help build confidence and self-esteem
  • Running an internal ‘Facilicom Awards’ programme to recognise and thank our colleagues that go that little bit further than just ‘doing their job’
  • Paying the Living Wage – we believe that those that are willing to work hard for their wages should be rewarded sufficiently, to be able to live and enjoy life
  • Providing every staff member 24/7 access to an Employee Assistance Programme, where they can discuss any issues that might adversely affect their work performance, or health and wellbeing
  • Having a strong management and a higher than average ratio of managers to cleaning operatives. This not only helps with safety and security, but also helps with ‘on the job’ training and support

All of these measures help to ensure our workforce feel valued, and are therefore happy and motivated to perform the best cleaning service possible – and, combined with a thorough vetting process, help us to only employ honest staff.

If you have been watching the show, I’d love to hear what you think about its representation of the cleaning industry.

Jan Hein Hemke.
Managing Director at Facilicom UK & Ireland