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The Cleaning and Hygiene Industry: Overcoming Staff Shortages and Embracing the Future

Despite challenging headwinds in the commercial cleaning market in 2022, MTW Research reports that the UK contract cleaning market continues to be supported by high public sector spending. According to MTW’s analysis of over 90 top contract cleaning companies with more than £3 billion in annual sales, the industry is still in reasonably good shape.

Their research found that over 52% of contract cleaners reported rapid growth over the previous 12 months, indicating a sector with good growth prospects for businesses that can identify significant growth trends in an increasingly complex market. There are some obstacles in the market, such as rising energy and material costs and, most notably, a labour shortage.

Cleaning Crisis

Severe staff shortages have afflicted the cleaning, hygiene, and waste industry since 2020, according to the British Cleaning Council (BCC). Its latest survey reported 225,000 cleaning and hygiene vacancies. It cites the leading causes as a lack of interest from UK workers and tighter immigration rules because of Brexit, which brought EU freedom of movement to a standstill.

The report adds that cleaning staff are wrongly labelled as unskilled, making it more difficult for overseas workers to fill the shortages. Employers in the commercial cleaning sector need to adapt to a rapidly changing workforce to win the frantic battle for workers.

Scrubbing for Solutions

To overcome staff shortages in the cleaning and hygiene industry, employers must adopt a multifaceted approach that addresses the root causes of the problem. Here are some strategies that can help:

Attracting and Retaining Local Talent

With the decline in interest from UK workers, it is crucial for employers to change the perception of cleaning jobs as unskilled and low-paying. Offering competitive wages and benefits, along with opportunities for skill development and career advancement, can make cleaning roles more appealing to the domestic workforce.

Investing in Training and Upskilling

Providing training and upskilling opportunities for existing staff can improve their job satisfaction and retention. This investment in employee development can also help elevate the status of cleaning jobs as essential and valuable to the industry.

Diversifying Recruitment Channels

Relying solely on traditional recruitment methods may not yield the desired results in a tight labour market. Employers should explore various avenues, such as online job platforms, social media, and partnerships with local job centres, to attract a broader pool of candidates.

Collaborating with Educational Institutions

Building relationships with educational institutions and vocational training centres can create a pipeline of skilled workers interested in pursuing a career in the cleaning and hygiene sector.

Leveraging Technology and Automation

Embracing technological advancements and automation can help offset the impact of labour shortages. Robotic cleaners and other automated solutions can enhance efficiency and productivity, reducing the need for a large workforce.

Fostering a Positive Work Environment

Creating a positive and inclusive work environment is essential for attracting and retaining employees. Implementing employee recognition programs, promoting work-life balance, and prioritising employee well-being can significantly improve job satisfaction.

Embracing the Future

In addition to tackling staff shortages, the cleaning and hygiene industry must also embrace technological advancements and sustainable practices to thrive in the future. Green cleaning initiatives, which focus on eco-friendly products and processes, are gaining momentum and appeal to environmentally conscious consumers and businesses.

The Dirt on Labour Shortages: Can We Mop Up the Mess?

The Cleaning and Hygiene industry must address staff shortages and embrace technological advancements to ensure success. By investing in training, welfare, and well-being, and integrating automation and smart technologies, the industry can thrive and provide essential services to businesses across all sectors.

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