In almost 10 years of existence, Green Heart Clean have learnt a lot of things to do with cleaning. First, we realised that an unstable cleaning company either through financial problems, operational problems or being managed poorly cannot survive the challenges that currently exist within the industry. We find it to be true, that consistency across all departments of our cleaning company is very important. Consistency is linked with how sustainable an organisation is.
In the first part of his article, we will be looking at what challenges we have faced along with the lessons learnt over the years, as we began our journey to become consistent. These lessons have helped us to carry on and to rise to the various challenges faced throughout all our organisational departments, especially in our operations department as all our cleaners are expected to deliver what we have promised our clients. What are these challenges we have faced you may ask? Here are a few of them:
- Cleaning times: most cleaners must work during the early hours of the morning before the building is open for commercial use. They also must work late, after your typical 9-5 working hours because vacuum cleaners are not allowed while the organisation’s staff are on the phone as the vacuum sounds can interfere with the phone call. The cleaners are also unable to clean meeting rooms etc while they are in use. Many large organisations with a high staff count will require some form of cleaning throughout the day to keep the toilets clean and to make sure is an onsite response team for all those accidental drinks spillages, however, the cleaning team can only clean offices and other areas outside opening hours. These cleaning times might make it difficult for most parents looking to take on a cleaning job as the times are too early or too late but other members of the public with various commitments are affected in other ways.
- Reputation: unfortunately, most people who have not cleaned professionally or have not cleaned much in their homes do not understand the skill set that a good professional cleaner possess. This lack of understanding means that most people think of cleaning as a menial task not a real job, while a professional cleaner understands techniques and tools to use to achieve the best cleaning a novice will not. As a result, it is common for cleaners to be looked down upon by client even though they don’t always intend to.
- Pay: Until recently, cleaning professionals are generally paid minimum wage. Larger organisations who are becoming more informed about the difference between minimum wage and the actual living wage are taking steps to pay more for their cleaning services so that their cleaners can have more money to live on. Unfortunately, the majority of cleaners are still on minimum wage as reported by the UK government asset publishing service (page 8 link), only between 30% and 40% of staff were paid the National Living Wage in the cleaning and maintenance industry in 2018.
- Adequate cleaning equipment: Due to cost cutting and slim profit margins, a lot of cleaning companies do try to save on the cost of materials (which keeps rising year on year). This makes it hard for the cleaning operatives delivering the service to do their job to the best standard possible.
- Staff retention: the cleaning industry is full of people who jump in and out of jobs in pursuit of the ‘ideal job’. This makes staff retention very low for many growing cleaning companies due to the people’s individualistic perception of cleaning as a job. A lot of people commonly assume that they will be able to jump into a cleaning job and bedazzle right away, purely because they are a parent and they clean daily. Another common assumption by people is that they do some cleaning around the house, so they are a qualified cleaner. No, we all have our personal preferences to cleaning so an individual will discover that their employer is demanding more professionalism from them than what they are used to and soon realise there is more to the job than meets the eye. As a result of this, the employee then can decide to improve their skills and carry on cleaning or like many, they look for another job.
- Management: Many cleaning companies find it hard to recruit highly qualified cleaning managers and supervisors. This reason is partly because of reason number 3 and 5 above. Again, due to cost cutting, many cleaning companies will only deliver the minimum required training. And for a skilled cleaning manager/supervisor, sustaining a cleaning contract requires a lot of intuition and people skills to work effectively with the cleaning staff and customer while representing the cleaning company to the best of their ability. Like any other profession, commitment and time with passion will help anyone develop a good management skill in cleaning but they must be willing to commit to it long term.
- Training: the goal post keeps changing for cleaning, while some countries regulate the cleaning industry, the UK does not. This gives room to many interpretations on how to clean various types of building or how to do various cleaning tasks. At Green Heart Clean, we realise that research helps us to choose an appropriate method for each task but more importantly by taking note of daily discoveries (both the good and bad) and sharing them with all members of the cleaning team when they are proven to be correct, the right systems have been put in place. Daily discoveries form a large part of our training and have helped us all of us to improve the quality of our cleaning contracts.
In the next article, we will discuss more on what we have done to tackle these problems and the results we have seen in GreenHeart Clean. Please sign up to our newsletter if you wish to receive updates and news from us.