The managing director of cleaning service firm Incentive QAS used last week’s Cleaning Show to deliver an impassioned plea for the sector to sustain its new-found prominence in the national debate.
Jamie Wright spoke about how the cleaning sector has been “historically lower down on the FM agenda”.
“If we compare cleaning to the other core FM services, where do you think cleaning would be ranked on salary levels? Right near the bottom. And when costs need to be saved, whose is the budget that gets squeezed the hardest? Why is it that cleaning is so often seen as the bottom of the pile?”
For Wright, a new approach might be necessary to shift both business and public perceptions of the service.
“Why don’t we go about things in a different way?” he asked. “Is there anywhere in the built environment where human beings go that doesn't need cleaning? If I’m taking my kids to the park to go for a walk, what's more important, the cleaning service, or an engineer? In a school, what’s more important – the manned guarding, or cleaning? If a school wasn’t cleaned it would be shut down.
“In an office environment – what's more important, catering or cleaning, when there’s a Pret on every third street in London? Or police stations – what’s more important there? A receptionist or the cleaning? God forbid if the custody suite doesn’t get cleaned 365 days a year.”
Perhaps unlike other FM service lines, Wright suggested, “cleaning is needed everywhere”.
With cleaning set to stay in the media spotlight as issues of labour resources become more acute, Wright added that “we need to ensure that the cleaning industry maintains its place at the top table. Because without the cleaning industry we’d all be in a very different place right now”.
Talking of his firm’s initial response to the pandemic, Wright said “the biggest thing we're all worried about was the health and the future of our staff. And that's really what we need to focus on now”.
Developments such as the Worshipful Company of Environmental Cleaners’ chartered practitioner status was evidence of a new appreciation of cleaning’s wider importance, said Wright. And it would continue to be important to sustain the newly widened awareness of the sector.
“Let's all do our best to raise our profile with our clients and most, of all, thank the hard-working cleaning professionals. Make them feel valued as often as possible.”
Image credit | Martin Read