Dominic Ponniah, CEO of Cleanology, says we ought to abandon the race to the bottom when it comes to cleaning contracts and rather appreciate the service as a key business investment.
Halting the race to the bottom on cleaning contracts.
Where are we now?
Cleaning is an industry of two extremes. On one hand, our top businesses focus on quality of service and staff recognition; at the other end, contracts are decided on price. While these two poles are unlikely to meet, the gap is widening, and this should concern anyone with the best interests of the cleaning industry at heart.
Where do we need to get to next?
We need to value ourselves as cleaners more highly and we need the status of cleaners to be elevated in the eyes of clients and end-users. At management level, we should be working out how best to attract top candidates to cleaning, convincing them that cleaning is just as bright, sparkly and rewarding as other sectors such as hospitality or retail. We should all work together to shift perceptions to move cleaning from a commodity to a valued business essential.
How do we get there?
Let’s be resolute in our commitment to maintain standards. Let’s refuse to reduce our staff to numbers to shave off a few pounds to a contract price. These race-to-the-bottom contracts are demoralising for companies and their staff. The pandemic has helped to begin to transform perceptions of cleaning from a commodity to a business investment that is keeping people safe. Let’s all commit to the London Living Wage and make clients understand this should be a prerequisite for all cleaning contracts.
Soon, fair rates of pay will be normal practice, and at this point, the balance of power will tip – everyone will start from the same point. Once price is a given, contracts will be decided on issues like environmental performance and innovation, on how to deliver a good service.
Changing external perceptions is more tricky. We can look after staff, and create a clean, positive working environment, but if that message is not transmitted to the wider world, we will never attract the best teams.
Dominic Ponniah is CEO of Cleanology