Unite CEC Branch have been working with HR in the Council on an initiative called Back to the Floor, which takes managers and takes them ‘back to the floor’ for a day, working in a frontline role. The initiative aspires to foster understanding of the challenges faces on the frontline and to encourage empathetic relationships, letting management get firsthand experience of the conditions faced by our essential workers.
The pandemic created a gulf between management and frontline staff. Management adapted to working from home, with human contact often happening digitally, and dealt with continually changing guidance and circumstances they have to consider in their decision making. Frontline workers have experienced increased workloads and greatly increased risks to health and safety and have found themselves subject to rapidly changing decisions, all with a backdrop of rising costs of living and often low pay. The Back to the Floor initiative seeks to bridge this gulf.
Mark Stenhouse gets back to the floor
The first area the initiative has run in has been Facilities Management, where Mark Stenhouse, the Head of Facilities Management, got back to the floor working with cleaning staff.
Mark shared his experience of the day with us:
“I was more than happy to accept Angela’s invitation to work the after school cleaning shift at Queensferry High School. In addition to spending time working with cleaning staff, I took the opportunity to spend time with the Facilities Technician on shift and their Supervisor, along with meeting the new Head Teacher.
It was genuinely a very humbling and uplifting experience, I learned a huge amount from the team. I also saw first-hand how challenging the demands still are on our service with respect to enhanced cleaning and infection requirements. The team were incredibly dedicated and hard working and also very open in their feedback around their roles, general wellbeing and the council as a whole. I was very tired after the shift, it’s a massive task every day for our cleaning staff.
I took away several actions on how we could help the team and school, the biggest challenge we have in the Queensferry area is recruitment. Vacant posts only make the cleaning teams challenge even harder. This month we will target an open recruitment day in Queensferry and a poster campaign across the town, we will also look at getting the “we have vacancies” message across to the hundreds of local residents that use the school for sports lets seven days a week.
I’m always proud of what our Facilities Management teams deliver each day across the city, the visit only made me prouder and more thankful of our staff. I do intend to visit other locations between now and the summer break and will be asking my direct team to do likewise. Our front line staff are invaluable to us.”
Angela Robinson, our rep in Cleaning, explain how Mark’s visit benefited the workers:
I personally felt that the cleaners were recognised now, that it was understood that we could not open schools without them and they are very much appreciated by Mark.
The staff felt Mark was listening to them and they appreciated his time in coming to work with them. It has been great that Mark has come to see for himself how hard they work and that there’s not enough time to get all tasks done.
We hope that this is the first in many occassions of management joining staff on the frontline.
The world has changed a lot in the past two years. Our Back to the Floor initiative aims to ensure the voices of workers are heard and that their experiences are used to inform decision, so services can be delivered effectively and safely.