Andrea Yoko, Head of Soft Services, Emrill Services LLC: Training is more important now than ever before, as is the need for continuous training. Questions like ‘why train – they are eventually going to leave?’ have been asked in the past. However, it would be worse for all stakeholders to not train staff while they are working with the company. Before we start to look at training needs and asking ourselves whether we should invest and train, we need to look at the skills and attributes that we desire in our operatives. Selfdiscipline, resilience and endurance to consistently deliver a high level of cleanliness are key attributes sought in new cleaning recruits.
But of course, performance can decline over time if proper action is not taken. Whilst we do not require the athleticism of an athlete, cleaning is exhausting. It is a physically demanding, repetitive job that requires being on your feet all day, moving around, picking up, carrying and using equipment. The willingness to serve others, extend oneself even when there will be unsavoury cleaning challenges that others would shy away from – and to do so with a positive attitude – are all important attributes.
Similarly, the willingness to learn and grow, keeping an open mind and remaining flexible to adapt to an environment where cleaning technology, emerging trends and innovation drive the profession are also important.
To summarise, hiring based on the personal attributes of new recruits is more effective, as most cleaning skills are trainable. Training is where all the hard work, time, effort and patience should be focused in areas such as infection control, risk and safety management, and the cleaning techniques necessary to successfully deliver industry best practise. Cleaning and using the correct chemicals, proper care and use of a wide range of equipment, as well as cost- and time-efficiency together with a skillset to complete work seamlessly while minimising disturbance to others are all important factors.
Organisations such as BICSc or ISSA have internationally accredited cleaning programmes, and I am a strong believer that using and implementing these standards validates FM companies’ commitment to the success of their operatives, organisation, clients and the industry as a whole. Many of the attributes previously mentioned are fully transferable skills that are key in so many other professions. Developing our ability to recognise the talent of the future and to assist with the nurturing of their growth and professional development is highly important.
In just the last year 233 cleaning operatives within Emrill received internal promotions. We are proud of this result. Rather than fight the turnover, we remain committed to developing teams that encourage diverse strengths and talents with united values.
The cleaner of today could be the hotel general manager or facilities manager of the future. Imagine the possibilities when you could be in a position of authority to enact positive changes. On a personal note, with 30 years’ experience in the United Arab Emirates, I am frequently interacting with senior managers and even clients who I have worked with previously when they used to be cleaners. This has helped me work by the motto ‘Never look down on someone unless you are helping them up’!