Joining forces

03 September 2018

Simon Biggs, director and partner at Monthind Clean, reviews the wide-ranging benefits of supporting the Armed Forces Covenant and how the cleaning and facilities management industries can utilise the skills of reservists and ex-military staff to enhance their training portfolio and optimise their workforce

As an army veteran and former reservist, myself, I have always appreciated the proficiencies of ex-military staff, and the calibre of personnel prepared to make the sacrifice and commitment of joining the reserve armed forces. Because most roles within our armed forces are seen to be so far removed from those outside, it is very easy to overlook the perfect opportunities to transfer skills and enhance a civilian workforce.

Sometimes it is just a case of looking closely at experience and abilities and drilling it down to basic competencies. If you can strip down and repair a piece of military machinery or weaponry, then you have the skills to maintain equipment in the civilian sector. If you can organise and execute a military operation in the field, then you can manage a team of operatives and ensure their work meets the high cleaning industry standards daily. If you can develop teaching opportunities and give instruction to junior ranks or peers, then you can do the same within our industry.

Transferable skills

The skills that I see as most valuable and transferable to the cleaning and FM industries are:

  • Leadership - not only a proven team leader, ex-military personnel inspire and motivate others. They assess situations and are happy to work as part of a team to achieve results or will happily make decisions themselves and instruct others to meet goals.  
  • Communication - A military career quickly teaches you that communication skills may well save your life. Whether listening to instructions, conveying orders, or just passing on information, a veteran won’t be distracted and will be effectively and persuasively articulate. 
  • Organisation - Setting priorities, managing time, reporting, coordinating teams, recording and sharing data; military personnel live and breathe organisation. Use those skills to maximise your productivity.  
  • Technical - When you have spent years of your life maintaining equipment that your life may depend on, you develop professional skills and proficiency that can be easily transferred to other equipment and machinery, chemicals and procedures.  
  • Interpersonal - These skills go beyond those of communication, they enable you to supervise, co-operate, coach and empathise. All of which contribute to management level performance and training delivery opportunities.  

In a contract cleaning or facilities management setting, it is crucial to have staff with integrity, resilience, and self-discipline. Working as part of a team is essential, and there are no greater examples of teamworking than our military services. From a training delivery perspective, the confidence and presentation skills are necessary core competencies. 

The reserve forces play a crucial role in national security, but from an employer’s perspective, they also bring a wealth of talent and the added value of specialist training. Reservists' training covers a wide range of skills and disciplines such as: teamwork, self-confidence, decision-making, leadership, presentation skills, and   project management.

Some training is undertaken to help Reservists acquire specific trade skills, qualifications or promotion which can cover useful skills in: document handling,    communications, computer systems, planning and implementation, assessing situations quickly, and adapting to challenges.

Armed Forces Covenant

There have been several Government initiatives over the years to support military staff leaving the forces, but the Armed Forces Covenant (AFC) is the nation’s current commitment to those who serve in the armed forces and their families that they will be treated fairly. That commitment continues after they leave the services. The AFC works with businesses, local authorities, charities and community organisations to support the forces through services, policy and projects.  The Armed Forces Covenant Annual Report 2017 makes incredibly interesting reading and demonstrates a successful year and an increase in momentum to maximise the covenant’s potential.

Over the years, here at Monthind, we have benefited significantly from employing veterans and reservists and I would recommend the Armed Forces Covenant ( to every company in our industry.