Communicating with staff has always been a cornerstone of good management. Yet nowhere is this more challenging than in the UK cleaning industry. There are now well over half a million outsourced cleaning operatives in the UK, almost all working outside normal office hours, at client sites, and often on their own, with no colleagues. They may benefit from occasional visits from field management and receive payslips by post or email, but by and large it is easy to see how they can become disengaged. When they do have queries or want to make holiday requests, they rely on phone calls or emails to payroll, HR or their line manager, all of whom are under pressure to do their ‘day jobs’.
And yet, these staff have the same right as office-based employees to access information and communicate easily. What’s more, with Brexit fast approaching, we are due an unprecedented period of uncertainty, when thousands of cleaning employees will decide on their future and seek advice from their employers as to how they go about settling in the UK. Never has there been a better time to make staff communication easier.
Two things characterise modern communications: firstly, that if someone can’t access information via their smartphone, the chances are they won’t see it at all; and secondly, that there’s no point feeding people masses of information, if it’s something in particular they want.
For communications with out-based staff, this makes an advanced ‘portal’ the ideal access point, a place where a two-way information flow is possible, but where the emphasis is mainly on self-service, alerting staff to important messages, but letting them explore the available content and access the elements they need at a time that suits them best.
It’s true that simple employee portals have existed for some time in the form of intranets or extranets. However, their functionality has generally been confined to the provision of static information via read-only documents, and they have not traditionally been accessible to front line staff. Where they have also been wanting is in the exchange of information with a live database, or in the two-way submission and answering of requests. In the case of out-based cleaning employees, access to information revolves crucially around their ability to see and act on information relating to pay and holidays, although this is being steadily joined by an accompanying need for contractors themselves to be able to manage two-way interaction with their staff on key matters such as Right to Work or Health and Safety.
At Templa, we have always developed software enhancements with full client involvement, ensuring that we address real issues and solve real problems. This has resulted in the creation of our TemplaCMS Employee Portal, due for launch in early 2019.
Using a GDPR-compliant web application service to securely link remote smartphones to live data, the benefits are clear: access to payslips, contracts and other personal data; ability to view and download important company documentation such as Right to Work or HMRC guidance; receipt of company-wide messages or notices; submission of holiday and absence requests, along with quick response; and finally access to calendars showing holiday and absence both taken and planned.
The result is not a face-to-face conversation, but something potentially more valuable – a major step forward in employee engagement. A company-wide, two-way communication tool that allows staff to manage their own access to relevant information and stay on top of something that matters more to them than just about anything else – their pay and holiday.