A quick visit to the Living Wage Foundation website reveals what it’s all about. “The real Living Wage is based on the cost of living and is voluntarily paid by over 14,000 UK employers who believe we all need a wage that meets our everyday needs.” As a business whose values are People, Environment, Standards, becoming a Living Wage Recognised Service Provider, (RSP) was a no-brainer, a logical step, because the vast majority of our employees are hourly paid.
Hourly paid staff are often the least valued members of the workforce, often doing some of the most important jobs that keep businesses and society in general moving. We all saw this during the Covid pandemic, as cleaners, delivery drivers, logistics workers, care home staff, all became integral to the safe and secure running of hospitals, businesses working from home, and care for the most vulnerable.
Yet they’re often employed on zero-hour contracts, with little job security and minimum wage. This state of affairs means people can’t plan their lives. They don’t know if they can take holiday. They have no secure grasp on household income, one week to the next. This makes daily living more challenging than it should and for the founders of Tidy Green Clean, it was a fundamental of having a successful business that it wouldn’t be at the expense of our people.
We became a Recognised Service Provider in 2020 and we’d been paying Living Wage wherever possible prior to that. It shouldn’t be a radical thing to do as a facilities management provider, but it is. Paying staff the real Living Wage is radical in an industry that thrives on zero-hour contracts, low productivity, and high staff turnover. You’d think employers would do the maths and realise perhaps the three have a correlation. Every proposal we put out always includes a Living Wage option. Our price increase letters prioritise it; every client conversation, we talk about Living Wage.
To-date, we have at least 70% of our staff now on Real Living Wage. We have no zero-hours contracts and so our people can plan their lives, holidays, time off, secure in the knowledge their job is their job. The other benefits we see are in our staff retention figures, which is running at between 94-95%. We’re an employer of choice; clients get consistency of service, and well-trained high-quality staff, who are productive and reliable. In other words, our people show up and work hard. And we’re convinced that paying Real Living Wage is a significant factor in our overall success.
Our commitment to Living Wage is on all our marketing brochures, email signature, website, social media, all award entries, and it is prominent on the ‘boiler plate’ that goes out to press with every news release we send out. We’re now working towards Living Hours accreditation because of our longstanding commitment to zero hours contracts. Our staff know their contracts/working hours a year in advance, and we believe this matters – it matters to us as senior leaders, so it certainly matters to our people on the ground.
It also means our cleaners are our biggest advocates. They spread the word – especially when they come to us via TUPE and are on contracts that are still only on minimum wage with the prescribed government increases. We are making our case for enhanced hourly rates with every new tender/quotation – and it’s having an effect.
It goes further than just being accredited RSPs, because one of our co-founders and MD Andrew Alleway, chairs the Aberdeen Living Wage Action Group to Make Aberdeen a Living Wage City. He’s been involved since 2022 and this group is focused on harnessing public and business support.
During Living Wage Week November 2023, there was a lunch hosted by the group. They invited a range of influential Living Wage employers and other interested businesses, to share experiences and to engage and contend for wider positive public opinion and action in the commercial community within the city.
Tidy Green Clean encourages a Living Wage mindset among our clients too, many of whom are now signed up to the Living Wage Foundation themselves. Any business with hourly paid staff should seriously consider the immense benefits it brings to your staff and to your customers and consequently your bottom line. We’re always pleased to discuss this with anyone who’s interested in finding out more. Our goal is to have all our staff on Real Living Wage by 2025 and we’re making decent progress to get there. It wins us business; it gets us through first and second tender processes. Strategically, it’s one of the best decisions we ever made, and it means our staff have far greater autonomy in their lives, which is an incredibly important goal for every human being. In short, it makes good business sense. What are you waiting for?