Kanala, CEO of Startosfy, talks about the challenges of ‘The Great
Resignation’ in the commercial cleaning industry and how Stratosfy Marker
leverages beacon technology and cloud computing to create a state-of-the-art workforce
management system that can help commercial cleaning and janitorial companies
survive what might be their greatest post-pandemic challenge.
For the first time in the post-industrial revolution economy,
the wheel has come to a stop with nationwide lockdowns imposed across the globe
resulting in a total transformation of market dynamics. With the fear of the
pandemic fading out amidst mass vaccination drives, businesses are on their
track to some sort of normality only to be greeted by a phenomenon termed as ‘The
Great Resignation’ and the unexpected emergence of the employee market.
Over 20 million Americans have quit their jobs since April 2021. According to a survey by Microsoft, 41% of the global workforce is thinking of switching jobs. While the mainstream media is too much focused on the IT sector, The Great Resignation among the blue-collar workforce is critical for businesses to function, like the commercial cleaning industry, janitorial service, snow removal services, and security services are being neglected.
Job openings in Commercial Cleaning Industry have risen by 1,620% in the last month alone. Reportedly, many commercial cleaning companies are turning down new businesses due to the lack of staff. Some are even canceling the existing customers, making ‘The Great Resignation’ the biggest post-pandemic challenge for commercial cleaning companies.
Madan Kanala, CEO of Stratosfy, has some interesting insights to share for commercial cleaning companies looking to stay profitable and successfully buck the trend. Much of it has to do with Stratosfy’s Marker, a bluetooth based beacon technology designed to make life easier for commercial cleaning companies.
In Conversation with Madan Kanala
What is your take on ‘The Great Resignation’ in Commercial Cleaning Industry?
The numbers are out there, the impact is visible. There is a change in the thinking in terms of what our priorities are, the pandemic had a great role to play in it. People are now coming out of their inhibitions and trying to explore new careers with better pay and growth.
The Commercial Cleaning Industry workforce has historically been undervalued with low pay and benefits. With many new career opportunities out there, finally, they are in a position where they can make a choice or demand better pay.
How much role does the pandemic have in this?
Pandemic definitely created a scenario where businesses had to be closed or go remote, when these businesses are opening again, we have a situation where there are 10 million job openings in the USA alone. But we can’t put the complete blame on the pandemic, there is a growing demand for better pay, better working conditions, and more importantly better flexibility. People are starting to question the existing models where there are 6.5 unpaid work hours a week that each employee has to lose in activities like commuting to the office, etc.
How much role does the ‘better pay’ have in this?
Well, better pay and employee benefits might work to some
extent. It is not the end of the story. Some companies are now willing to pay
40-60% extra along with bonuses yet unable to find the staff willing to work.
I think this is because of the way how the commercial cleaning industry works. Customer feedback is a very important aspect of the business and employers often build pressure on their workforce to keep the customers satisfied and happy. In the long run, the employee and employer relations end up becoming transactional in nature. There has to be a significant change in perception and the way we manage the workforce, particularly for commercial cleaning companies with large crews.
What is your solution for the commercial cleaning companies?
Commercial cleaning services is one of the oldest industries. There is a certain level of rigidity in thought processes and business operations. But this is changing, in the last decade, we have seen tremendous growth in workforce management software companies offering unique solutions to commercial cleaning companies. This is where Stratosfy Marker is different, Marker takes workforce management to a new level with the game-changing beacon technology.
Some people are saying that it is time for robots to do the cleaning work, what do you think?
No, I don’t think we are there yet. Maybe a few well-to-do companies can buy some robots to build conversation among the customers and attract new clients. But when it comes to scale, currently robots cannot replace millions of global workforces. As an idea, robots are good to use in certain conditions like handling hazardous waste or working in extreme conditions, etc. We have a long way to go before we can think of robots as an alternative to people.
If you are to give one piece of advice to commercial cleaning companies, what would it be?
Start creating Hybrid work models to attract new employees and retain the existing workforce. As I said, people are looking for more flexibility and work-life balance. You need to have a system in place for remotely managing and engaging your workforce. But many of the systems lack the right mechanism for ‘proof of service’, which is essential for commercial cleaning companies and janitorial services.
How is Stratosfy Marker connected to this?
We are working on Marker for the last 2 years, in the process, we have worked with big clients like Jani King allowing us to closely understand the problems in commercial cleaning and janitorial services companies. To know how it can be a solution to the problem in context first you need to understand what Marker and Beacon technology can do.
Marker is the only workforce management system that leverages the power of bluetooth based beacon technology. Unlike the traditional remote management systems that track the locations using GPS, Marker’s beacon technology takes it a step further by allowing to monitor micro-locations within a defined area like the restrooms, reception, corridors, individual cabins, etc within the property of your clients.
These micro-location capabilities combined with the power of cloud compung allowed us to create a comprehensive remote management system that considers the needs of customers, commercial cleaning companies, and the workforce.
Can you give us an example?
Sure, let us consider the perspective of a commercial
cleaning company employee. More often than not, mistakes happen. You might have
forgotten to clean the mirror area of the washroom, as a consequence, the client
gives negative feedback to the company. You have cleaned everything else in
your task list to sparkle, but all your hard work goes unrecognized.
Now think of a scenario where the commercial cleaning company installed Marker beacons in all the important cleaning areas like the mirror/wash area in restrooms. The workers' phone detects the beacons when they are in their proximity and send alerts. Both the employer and customer can monitor the activities with real-time feedback. When we are dealing with huge properties with many important cleaning areas, this is a game-changer. The reduced friction between supervisors, employees, and customers results in a stress-free work environment.
How does Marker help the growing ‘Work from home’ trend in Commercial Cleaning Industry?
This is very interesting,
there are a lot of people who want to work in the cleaning industry but looking at
remote working opportunities. Basically, what they are asking is, just tell us
where to go and we will do the work at our convenience.
Imagine that your company is
equipped with an Android/ IOS app for the employees, a web and mobile dashboard
for the supervisors and customers, easy to install bluetooth sensors on your
contract sites. Now imagine all of them integrated and powered by cloud
computing with a real-time data loop to create a highly customizable workforce
management system. This is exactly what you need to create flexibility for
enabling work from anywhere option to the workforce, to assign tasks remotely, and organize logistics. Maker is all this, and much more, it is continuously
evolving to cater to the changing needs of commercial cleaning and janitorial
The Great Resignation is going to stay with us for a while, maybe longer than the pandemic itself. Innovation in workforce management is critical for the survival of commercial cleaning industries, it is time to invest in technology and remote capabilities to keep both your employees and customers happy.