Sanitize! – this is one of the most important rules of our time. For us at home and for professional cleaners wherever we need it. And yet, these guardians of cleanliness are not appreciated enough, therefore, in order to make a difference, a social sensitivity campaign has been launched.
‘Since last year we have been planning to launch a social sensitivity campaign to make the public aware of the socially indispensable, yet almost invisible, work of cleaners’, said Ferenc Kis-Szölgyémi, CEO of B+N Referencia Zrt., Hungary’s biggest cleaning and facility management company. ‘The groundwork had been laid for long months but by the time we were ready, COVID-19 had reached the country.
The 45 thousand cleaners in the country have always deserved our heartfelt appreciation, but in these times they deserve it a 100 times more. We employ 4100 cleaners who are doing a great job cleaning transportation vehicles, hospitals and office buildings. The majority of our society take cleanliness for granted but do not appreciate the people who make it happen. With our campaign “Look round and see” we want to show an alternative.
Cleaning is a profession too
Customers want to get cleaning services for as cheap as possible. Oftentimes the requests are extremely focused on low pricing regardless of what kind of technology or human capital needs to be applied to reach the required quality of service, which would be all the more important for the customers given how big an effect a clean and orderly work environment can have on company image or the general feeling of employees.
‘Customers don’t calculate whether their cleaning company can pay at least the minimum wage for its workers from the money they receive’, explained Ferenc Kis-Szölgyémi. If it cannot, they not only implicitly support the grey or black economy, they also take risk, since, although people tend to forget it, this work is a matter of trust. You wouldn’t let a total stranger into your home unchecked either. References from friends providing proof of the cleaner’s reliability, quality and accountability are important.
Professional cleaning is a vocation too, which requires training and field-specific expertise. There are various cleaning technologies and in many places cleaners have to work with complex and expensive cleaning machines. Insufficient knowledge of chemicals can cause serious health problems or accidents. In addition, cleaning is hard physical work. An office cleaner working in an 8-hour shift and dusting only the desks bends their back 1440 times and carries 80-150 kg of waste a day. And in the current pandemic situation disinfection, in addition to cleaning, is part of the regular daily work routine: in addition to previously obligatory surfaces, now everything at hand’s reach has to be disinfected too.
‘Cleaners make our everyday life comfortable. What would we say if nobody emptied the dustbin or disinfected the hospital rooms?’, asks Erika Kókai, Marketing Director of B+N. ‘We have got so used to the order and cleanliness around us that we simply take it for granted and fail to even notice the people who created it. It is our responsibility to do something about the prestige of this work and to stand up for our cleaners and every cleaner in the country because if everything stays the same, soon nobody is going to be left to clean the country’.
Cleaner, leaflet distributor, road sweeper
The Hungarian Central Statistical Office examined 173 occupations in terms of social prestige according to different aspects: for example how much power or influence they entail, how much one has to learn for them, how useful they are for society, how trendy or appealing they are nowadays. According to the subjective judgement of the respondents, cleaning is among the ten lowest-prestige jobs, coming ahead of only road sweepers, garbage collectors, leaflet distributors and unskilled workers.