All of NJC’s services are people-centric, which impacts the company in many ways, including how much its employees are paid per hour, the number of hours they work and the impact of Brexit on workers from abroad.
Says Crilly: “Some of our customers who are more exposed have been contacting us regularly to see how we’ll cope, but we wouldn’t be as successful without our international colleagues, all of whom show a high level of professionalism and attention to detail. We’ve always recorded country of origin, and if any of them need to be sponsored we would do so. So far we haven’t seen high levels of self-repatriation going on, although we’re seeing fewer Europeans by volume and lower levels of English language. But we’re not lowering our standards when it comes to language as it’s important people have a good understanding, especially as a lot of smart buildings use voice instructions should there be an emergency.
“There’s a big drive for social value in the community we’re in,” he continues, “and first and foremost we look after the community we employ. This is why we’re big supporters of sustainable employment, so we have a low proportion of operatives on minimum wage. It’s difficult for me to say to a colleague, ‘I value you highly but will only pay you the government minimum,’ which is why we’ll pay above the living wage. Our policy is not to do zero hours unless a colleague actively requests it, and we’ll use technology to control the number of hours people work.”
For instance, if someone is covering for a colleague for two weeks and their number of hours goes above 12 or 14 hours, NJC will contain that. Although good clients are conscious of the number of hours NJC’s operatives are working, some organisations with a worthy CSR agenda are still only prepared to pay the minimum wage, Crilly says. For this reason, NJC will “check out potential customers, and if their attitude to staff in the tender document contradicts their values, we’ll turn them down.”
This sustainable agenda extends to other key areas, including limiting the kind of chemicals used during cleaning, ensuring the rigorous use of PPE and offering work opportunities to a diverse range of people, from youngsters just out of school to rehabilitated offenders.
Says Crilly: “In our sector, I believe if we pay people well we’ll get a higher quality service every day. Then they’ll think of ways to make work smarter themselves. They’ll embrace new equipment and new technologies more quickly, and even if we introduce some kind of new technology or equipment that saves man hours, we’ll absorb that into our business. This mean they won’t be in danger of losing their job because we don’t need them to do as many hours, as we can always move displaced colleagues to other parts of our business. In that way we’re motivating staff to try and think of better ways to do their jobs, faster, quicker and smarter.”
He concludes: “I’ve always believed that good cleaning is a positive experience, and means you can come into that reception downstairs after it’s been snowing and we’ve ensured it’s clean and dry and you’re able to get to your work safety and be productive. The WeWorks of this world are driving the power of the workplace experience. This is driving up the need for higher quality services, which we’re determined to deliver.”