This issue, Lee Andrews, CEO of DOC Cleaning,
reports on the role of workforce management
Working in a people-based, labour-intensive industry, the task of
managing our front-line labour force efficiently and cost effectively is
the most critical we face as cleaning contractors.
Whether we employ 200, 2,000 or 20,000, ensuring that the right
operatives are in the right place at the right time, completing their
shifts in full and being paid correctly is no easy task. The fact is that
with front-line labour costs taking up over 80% of total revenue, it’s
easy for a few miscalculations in hours, absence cover provision, or
incorrect payments to translate to an overspent wage budget, dented
profit margin or, most worryingly, a client unhappy with the level of
So how do we ensure these errors don’t happen? Well, as with so much
else that’s going on in our industry nowadays, the answer seems to lie
in the clever use of information technology. By digitalising and
connecting up lots of staff-related processes that are currently low-tech
- in other words paper-based, email-based, or predominantly manual
in nature - we will save time, make fewer mistakes, deliver better
cleaning standards and protect margin.
In the clever way that technology suppliers have of summarising useful
functionality into a memorable term, it comes as no surprise to find
that everything to do with managing your workforce is now known in
IT terms as (ahem) Workforce Management – a combination of
contract management software and integrated mobile apps to manage
staff related processes. In addition to basics such as onboarding,
rostering, attendance management and payment, it extends to
invoicing correctly for work carried out, especially one-off work, as
well as communicating with staff through portals, giving them access
to information that saves them phoning or emailing your payroll and
admin teams with queries. Correctly implemented, workforce
management claims to leave clients satisfied, whilst managing wage
budgets and protecting profit. Impressive!
To reap the full benefit of the technology that brings the individual
processes together under the workforce management umbrella, the key
is to integrate them so that you don’t waste your time keying the same
basic information into lots of different apps, or from one system to
another. An integrated workforce management system is very much
like a team where the sum of the parts is greater than the whole. It’s
about the software sharing data about your employees between the
different applications, which has the effect of making the data work
harder without the intervention of your admin or operations teams.
The benefits flow in the form of reduced admin, tighter financial
control and potentially a lot more transparency, which works well for
both staff and clients. All things we can do with in cleaning.
Are you well-trained
A well-trained staff is essential in the cleaning industry
and, as Manuela D’Agata – ISSA international
education and certification director – explains, key to
controlling costs, providing motivated employees for
your operations and in promoting the quality of your
The commercial cleaning industry
is highly competitive with a
relentless pressure on margins.
Winning and retaining contracts
requires balancing a complex range
of factors and operational detail.
As a cleaning contractor, your aim
is to provide an excellent service.
Fundamental to this is a well-trained
and highly motivated staff.
This can be crucial in
differentiating your services and in
delivering savings over the long-term.
Maintaining high quality and
consistent cleaning is essential, yet
many issues can impact your
ability to train, develop and retain
staff, including high staff turnover.
Training and supporting new
employees can be a big challenge. It
might be the case you have built
and trained a team to deliver the
highest standards, then someone
leaves, and the process begins over
again. However, investing in
training your team is not just a
case of being worth it, there is
actually no alternative.
Training and development
programmes also offer opportunity
and progression into management,
which defines a career path,
provides job satisfaction, and in
turn aids staff retention. Employees
feel more engaged and valued,
becoming ambassadors for you and
the wider industry. This is
important as new methods evolve,
such as day time cleaning, and
cleaners become more visible as
clients wish to actually see the job
being done well. Training also
improves communication skills
which help effective team building.
All of which creates a virtuous
circle by attracting new employees
to the profession. This is crucial in
developed countries that face
problems with ageing workforces.
A shortage of replacements for
retirees emphasises the importance
of developing staff.
Improving basic skills and the
knowledge of specific methods of
production improves labour
productivity, making staff more
efficient in using resources
effectively. The rate of innovation -
such as data-driven machines - and
the need to be up to date with the
chemistry, systems and technology
involved, makes training crucial to
avoid risks. In healthcare, where
public safety is key, the threat from
pathogens brings a different
dimension to the quality of clean.
ISSA offers its members a wide
range of solutions to rise to these
training challenges, from an
extensive variety of training
formats, to seminars, videos,
articles and webinars, training
courses - in-house and external -
and online learning courses; along
with other resources from ISSA’s
extensive online bookstore.
14 Find more like this at: www.cleaning-matters.co.uk