Nine months into the service industry and interacting with the labor class, I’ve realized that the situation is bad. There is a distinct divide in India, and the labor class survives in harsh social conditions- with little or no education, hygiene standards and resultant frequent illnesses. There is a communication divide, because they are afraid if looking us straight in the eyes. They often cannot communicate effectively because of certain inhibitions. They have been brought up with the feeling of being poor and downtrodden.
Their various reasons to switch/leave jobs is misunderstood by the business owners and increasing apathy does nothing to help the class divide. Frequent deaths, financial hurdles and ignorance stops them from being good employees. That results in the industry cribbing about 30% attrition.
If the attitude of the employers doesn’t change, we cannot expect the situation to improve.
Uniforms and No Uniforms
To gauge the attitude, I recently offered one of my managers the option of wearing a uniform along with the team. It would have been natural for him to not opt for uniforms, because clients then find it easy to spot the person in charge. However, he shocked me by stating that he will not feel comfortable wearing the same uniforms as the attendants.
Owner of the Business – the Cleaner
I confess, there are plenty of psychological blocks I’ll have to battle before donning the uniform and mop my client’s floor. Perhaps it is unnecessary, because the job of the CEO is to grow the company. However, mopping and scrubbing the properties with my people will ensure that my feet don’t leave the ground. The action, once taken, will mean that my biases and fears are in the process of dissolving. I believe it will be a huge and a challenging step towards being a better human being. I confess it would be a tough one to take too and requires a serious shift in the mindset.
How can jobs that are so essential to a well-functioning society be termed ‘lowly’ and for the ‘downtrodden’. Caste-ism in India has managed to permeate mindsets in all kinds of ways. There are ‘prestige levels’ in business owners (starting with manufacturers leading the pack and services sector tailing behind), people choosing certain education streams are looked down upon and the sweeper is shooed off like an undesirable fly. HE CLEANS THE DARN FLOOR YOU WALK ON WITH JIMMY CHOO SHOES! Doesn’t his/her existence deserve respect and something as simple as a polite smile?
At Hammer & Mop, we teach our people to care. And we expect our clients to care for the job we do, at their homes and offices. When our attendants care, they make sure our clients are not inconvenienced. They make sure that the job is done in a thorough manner. They care for our client needs, do not talk among themselves and behave like a professional cleaning company.
Why do they care?
That is because we treat them like humans. they are individuals- with their own quirks, habits and nuances. Each has a quality and a voice and all of them have something to say. We simply listen and offer them a space to grow into what they do best. At Hammer & Mop, they know that their work has respect. They are aware of the fact that they are the wheels our company runs on.
If the employer cares enough, the workforce will go to war for him.
love and peace
This post was first published on the Hammer & Mop blog.