Morale building of field workers at ISS India

ISS, the facility management company, has a culture of unity and belongingness. Through their HR policies and initiatives they have been able to create a sense of care to build a strong culture even for its front line employees.

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People in the corporate world live a very busy life. Employees are busy chasing their targets and senior leaders are busy making plans to take the business to the next level. That is how we spend all our time in the office, working! On an average most working professionals spend around 9-10 hours in the office. Just rewind those 10 hours of your life and try to remember the first person you see when you enter your workplace premises – guarding your office, or the person who prepared and offered the afternoon meal for you. People who are serving tea, coffee and taking care of your guests and clients. People who make sure that your office toilets are clean. You might have been working for years in that same organisation but possibly you don’t even know their names.

While that may be the case at a lot of organisations, but ISS Facility Services India, that provides such facility management services to public and private sector companies, makes conscious efforts to value them.

The company day initiative

To spread the message of unity at workplace and sensitise their managers about how it feels to clean someone else’s toilets, to serving food and performing various other support staff activities, the company has an initiative which is known as ‘the company day’ initiative. As part of this initiative, every year for one day, all the employees of the company, including the CEO, put on their cleaning gears and suits to work with the front liners.

It is a global initiative which has been around for over 40 to 50 years.

“India is divided into many classes. There were managers who used to wash their hands after having a hand shake with the frontline employees. This initiative helps to make these people understand what kind of challenges all the frontline employees go through, and helps in establishing a bond. It makes them realise that irrespective of whether you are a VP or any other senior leader, once you wear that uniform you become invisible,” says Alex Augustine, chief people and culture officer, ISS Facility Services, India.

How ISS controls the turnover rates in its front liners

Attrition at the ground level is maximum, for any business, but for businesses such as ISS, providing facility services to clients, these employees become the most critical. ISS Facility Services, India has some policies in place to control turnover rates for its frontline employees.

“If there’s someone offering even Rs 100 more or providing free meals, you will see people leaving. It does not matter to them if they are wearing a blue colour uniform or a red colour uniform,” Augustine shares.

Alex Augustine

“India is divided into many classes. There were managers who used to wash their hands after having a hand shake with the frontline employees. This initiative helps to make these people understand what kind of challenges all the frontline employees go through, and helps in establishing a bond”

As described by Augustine, the company aims to make sure to provide living wages so that they can make enough money for their family.

ISS also provides enough opportunity for growth to their frontline employees. “We have stories of employees who have gone up to become managers, operation managers and general managers,” Augustine adds.

Additionally, ISS has a strong R&R programme for these employees. They just do not believe in simply rewarding employees in monetary value, rather focus on creating a better employee experience.

Though the company gives rewards which range from Rs 1,000 to Rs 25,000 but to create a better employee experience it also invites the best performers at its leadership forums, where they are felicitated.

The best performers are also shortlisted to attend the global leadership summits in Europe, US and UK where they go on fully paid trips with the family and get to be a part of it, while being recognised for good work.

ISS also has a policy called the ‘ISS family suraksha plan’ where if a worker dies during service, the family gets a compensation of Rs 10 Lakh and under the ‘work with the family’ theme the company even offers a job to one of their family members. Sharing his experience working with the company, Augustine says, “I have seen their wives being thrown out and children being deprived of further education earlier, but this programme helps them to continue their lives.”

According to Augustine the biggest challenge in hiring the front liners in their company is the level of employability. To tackle this problem the company has a reskilling programme which includes class room trainings and practical classes which train these employees in their personal hygiene and grooming, usage of chemicals and cleaning tools, training on protective gears, taking safety measures while working at great heights at the job; and providing a safer working environment to the employees.

ISS aims to create a sense of belongingness and care among its employees and the above initiatives help the company do so. For its clients these employees may be invisible, but for ISS they are the driving force of the company.

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