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Supporting ‘Hidden Workers’ within FM


Over one-third of Bellrock’s workforce are in frontline FM related roles, delivering vital services such as cleaning, maintenance, and security. We see them as absolutely intrinsic to the quality of service that we deliver to our customers, so it is critical to us that we look after them in the same way that we look after anybody else.

At the start of 2023, Bellrock took a stance against minimum pay in a move that ensured all workers received at least the recommended real Living Wage (as recommended by the Living Wage Foundation). Over 500 members of staff received a 10 per cent pay increase. Those in supervisory roles also received a proportionate rise.

We made the decision from a moral stance in the first instance, it wasn’t really a business argument, it was a moral argument. We asked ourselves what type of employer we wanted to be and made a change, not knowing how many of our clients would cover that rise in costs. We predicted some would, but there would also be some that absolutely wouldn’t, but that didn’t stop us doing it; we did it because it was the right thing to do.

Paying the real Living Wage is part of a wider commitment to our people, having launched a new employer brand in 2022 which sets out an entirely new employee proposition. The benefits package, including paternity, maternity and adoption leave, holiday allowance and sick pay has been overhauled.

However, the changes are not purely altruistic, there have been some marked business benefits. We have become more competitive as a recruiter, finding it easier to recruit and retain good people and in turn, deliver greater levels of service to clients. Higher employee satisfaction has resulted in a reduction in staff turnover and absence.

When it comes to winning new business, being an employer committed to the real Living Wage can give companies a competitive edge and we can demonstrate we are an ethical provider and can attract suppliers that are aligned with our values.

For real change to happen in the industry, a greater number of employers need to make a commitment to paying the real Living Wage. The good news is that we have witnessed a growing number of clients becoming Living Wage Foundation accredited and demanding the same from their supply chain. This is especially true in the public sector.

Industry collaboration is key to addressing the disparity. My advice to other businesses would be to ask yourself what type of employer that you want to be, and then be brave in being true to that. It’s about doing the right thing, but you will absolutely see the benefits, even if they are indirect.

The financial cost can be offset by having conversations with clients about an ethical offering, and by winning new businesses with clients who share the values and want to treat people in the right way.

About Sarah OBeirne

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