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Providing support for cleaning operatives

26 June 2020

Joanne Gilliard, CEO of Jangro, discusses how employers can support cleaning operatives both during and after the COVID-19 pandemic, and how, in doing so, can reap business benefits.

The COVID-19 pandemic has shone a light on the important role cleaning operatives play in society; keeping spaces clean and hygienic to protect others. At the moment, although most people are not leaving the safety of their homes, the critical work they do has taken on added significance, particularly in key sites such as hospitals, care homes, public transport and supermarkets. In fact, the ‘extraordinary' role of cleaners during the coronavirus crisis was recently paid tribute to in parliament by both the prime minister and the former leader of the opposition; they praised the ‘unsung heroes' of the public sector who ‘keep us safe' during the outbreak.

All too often, the valuable work of cleaning operatives goes unnoticed by others and they are held in low regard, or even worse, ‘invisible’. Clearly, during the current battle against coronavirus and the need for high hygiene standards and infection control, their work couldn’t be more important. Yet their job is always essential to the smooth running of any organisation, small or large – whether the country is in the grip of a health epidemic or not. 

We should take care to ensure their important role in society is recognised even after this crisis has eased. As an industry, we need to help create and maintain an atmosphere of respect and appreciation for the work undertaken by cleaning operatives. We also have to change the perception of their job from one of being a series of mundane tasks to a critical part of any business.

Personal protective equipment
Businesses can show their cleaning operatives that they are valued by ensuring they are issued with appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), to safeguard against all manner of hazardous chemicals and risks they face when cleaning.

During the pandemic, if the job involves cleaning premises where there have been possible or confirmed coronavirus cases, operatives should be provided with disposable gloves and an apron, as a minimum. Where a higher level of contamination may have been present, for example cleaning rooms that have been slept in by suspected sufferers of COVID-19, where there is visible contamination with body fluids, then surgical face masks and eye protection should be considered.

Training is absolutely vital in the cleaning sector, enabling operatives to perform their duties safely without risking their own, or others’ health. Additionally, not only will employees feel valued (after all you are investing in them), but well-trained employees will also work efficiently, cost-effectively and to a high standard.  

There are many quality training schemes available. At Jangro we offer an innovative e-learning system, which is available to all of our customers and their employees. It is optimised for all devices, meaning it is perfect for handy reference on-the-go. It is also proving popular for many furloughed operatives, who are using this time to brush up on their skills!

A fair wage
A hard day’s work deserves a fair day’s pay. As an accredited Living Wage Employer, Jangro advocates, and is firmly committed to, fair pay that reflects the real cost of living. Operatives should be paid an hourly rate which reflects their performance and the value they bring to the business. 

Unfortunately, there is frequently little long-term commitment to the sector. But by taking steps to invest in cleaning operatives and improve staff welfare, and demonstrating our appreciation, we can begin to change this – and, in turn, increase levels of loyalty and retention. This is not only good for the individual, it’s also good for business, as reducing staff turnover can help save valuable time and money spent on recruitment. Finally, these actions position the business as a caring employer, enhancing its own reputation, as well as the wider industry as a whole.