Stay agile in uncertain times

09 September 2019

The professional cleaning sector is fiercely competitive, and with the current uncertainty around Brexit, and the pressures of increasing rates of pay and operational costs, the industry faces challenging times. Jan-Hein Hemke, MD of Facilicom UK, explains why agility is the lifeboat that will keep the industry afloat in the coming years

In today’s political and economic landscape, cleaning companies, and their operatives, are having to fight harder than ever to win and retain work. With the looming Brexit decision, and rising operational costs threatening to stifle the industry’s growth, we need to equip our employees with the skills to adapt and thrive in the ever-changing market. 

The challenges

As the nation remains under a cloud of uncertainty at the hands of Brexit, many cleaning companies are concerned about future employment restrictions. The industry currently employs more than 500,000 people in the UK alone, many of which are EU nationals. In fact, a recent ONS study showed that around 25% of cleaning employees in the UK don’t have British nationality. Companies that rely on non-British nationals could find themselves with a smaller workforce and may also struggle to secure new employees.

Rises in the National Minimum Wage, and increasing operational costs, also put added pressure on the bottom line. How do we remain competitive and an attractive employer if our profit margins are under such stress?

The art of agility 

As competition in the market continues to grow, we need to find ways to make our offer stand out from the crowd. At Facilicom UK, we do this by investing in our colleagues to make them agile and indispensable. From ensuring they are highly skilled to deliver their role, to training them in added-value services, enabling them to adapt to changing client requirements – it all comes from a solid foundation of learning and development. 

To make sure we can consistently exceed client expectations, we gear our training to both the operational excellence and the human, social aspect of the job. We offer each of our colleagues coaching in ‘Hostmanship’ - the art of making people feel welcome. Good Hostmanship encompasses areas such as customer care, quality, friendship and hospitality. It begins with a welcoming and open attitude to the people and situations we encounter, and can be as simple as assisting with directions, helping on reception or even just offering a friendly smile. It is understanding that the smallest positive action can brighten somebody’s day. We believe this is a significant way that we can add value to our clients, while also enriching our colleagues’ wellbeing. 

Hostmanship helps boost our colleagues’ self-esteem and build their confidence to communicate and engage with their peers and clients effectively. This is important as, in many settings, especially in the leisure, retail and hospitality sectors, cleaning operatives are often ‘front of house,’ working within a customer’s view. From the visitor’s perspective, everyone who works in a facility is part of the same team and should be approachable and knowledgeable about the place they work. It is therefore logical to develop and embed people skills across the entire workforce – from management level through to cleaning operatives. 

This training goes above and beyond the basic skills required to deliver the job. It enables our teams to add significant value to our clients. By developing and honing colleagues’ interpersonal skills, a caring, yet professional, approach is introduced to our work. 

In return, colleagues are more motivated and committed to their tasks, have a better understanding of a client’s needs and are more likely to engage in issues rather than just doing the minimum amount of work.

We firmly believe that investing in our people will reap huge rewards when it comes to retaining and winning new business. After all, without a happy, effective and loyal workforce, our operations would grind to a halt.