Jan-Hein Hemke, Managing Director at Facilicom, explains why colleague wellbeing should be a top priority for businesses.
For many years, the cleaning sector has been viewed by those outside the industry as short-termist, low skilled and poorly paid, leaving cleaning operatives feeling undervalued and unappreciated. Over time, these opinions can impact on a person’s mental health.
Of course, as with any industry, the job comes with its challenges. Many cleaning operatives often work long, unsociable hours and shifts, which can make it hard to manage a positive work-life balance. 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’. We believe that, by investing in everyone’s wellbeing, we achieve a positive workforce and our clients receive a much better service. If staff feel valued, they will be more committed, deliver better results for the client, and will be happy in their work.
In my opinion, having a strong employee wellbeing strategy in place should go hand-in-hand with a robust business plan, which is why we have introduced a number of initiatives to improve work-life balance, quality of life, and positive mental health for our colleagues.
Providing a Living Wage
We firmly believe that those who are willing to work hard should be able to enjoy life and not be burdened by the stresses that come with financial hardship. We really appreciate the efforts put in by our amazing workforce and we are passionate about ensuring that our staff receive a fair wage, reflecting the real cost of living.
We have long been supporters of the Living Wage movement. In fact, we were one of the first national contract cleaning providers to sign up to the Living Wage Service Provider Recognition Scheme. Today, we are part of the Living Wage Service Providers Leadership Group and are committed to paying a fair wage to all employees – a promise that recently saw us win the “Beyond the Living Wage Champion Award” last year.
Training and Development
We have also developed a training and development programme that both supports our teams in their work, and furnishes them with skills that can be transferred to other areas of their lives. We offer all our colleagues training in ‘Hostmanship’ (‘the art of making people feel welcome’). This initiative fosters personal confidence building in being able to communicate effectively and engage with peers, clients and customers. This, in turn, adds value to our business with a more positive client experience. Through this training, colleagues are able to hone their interpersonal skills, providing a caring, yet professional approach. Motivation is enhanced, individuals are more committed to their tasks and have a better understanding of clients’ needs.
24/7 access to support and advice
Whilst we place huge importance upon providing comprehensive training to foster a positive and strong work ethic, we realise that balancing professional and personal pressures can be challenging, and can often lead to stress, anxiety and mental health issues. Ensuring that we have support available to colleagues at any given time is a key priority for us. We have invested in an Employee Assistance Programme, which provides each of our team members with a trusted, compassionate health and wellbeing network. We offer them 24/7 quick access to counselling, where they can discuss any physical, mental, social, legal or financial issues that might adversely affect their work performance, health or wellbeing.
To further bolster a healthy attitude to work, and a good work-life balance, we ensure that we offer a flexible approach to working time. According to the Trades Union Congress (TUC), one in 12 workers do not take the time off work that they should. We do not want our people to be at risk of this kind of burn-out. Research suggests that those who take their holiday entitlement tend to be more productive. We proactively encourage our colleagues to use their holiday allowance and we have recently taken this one step further. We are currently trialling unlimited holidays with a third of the business, in departments where this flexibility is possible. Our people still deliver the outputs required, but we also trust them to manage their own time. Colleagues are taking leave when it works for them, but they are making sure that the job is done, or handed over effectively, before they go. This has increased productivity and commitment, and individuals are taking more ownership and responsibility for their delivery. People are more rested, happier in their work, and therefore loyal to the business, which is great for everybody.
We always try and show our appreciation for our staff, and to make sure we give them the credit they deserve, we also run the ‘Facilicom Awards’, which shine a spotlight on those going over and above. At our annual kick off meeting each year we all come together and celebrate our colleagues’ achievements. It’s just another way of showing our team how valuable they really are.
In return for our investments, we have seen low levels of absenteeism, increased staff retention and high levels of job fulfilment. This has led to better teamwork, improved service provision and greater client satisfaction. People are our prime asset, so it makes complete sense to safeguard their wellbeing and ensure that they are happy and healthy both in work and at home.