Personnel challenges

25th of November 2010

As ECJ correspondent Oleg Popov of contract cleaning company Cristanval explains, the Russian cleaning market is immature and as such lacks qualified personnel.

Since the cleaning market in Russia is still rather immature, it often lacks qualified personal. The profession of 'cleaner' is brand new (it has never existed in former times), and there is no single educational body within the industry which provides cleaning education. Therefore it is not surprising that requirements for specialist qualification are not so strict when compared to the rest of Europe.

When hiring new employees, it is rare to find candidates with an extensive background in cleaning. But lack of knowledge about proper cleaning techniques and equipment means it is very easy to spoil surfaces - that’s why the importance of education in cleaning industry is really high.

Different training centres

Today in Russia there are three kinds of centre offering knowledge about cleaning. Firstly there are those that belong to the big cleaning companies. Others are linked to distributors of professional products, so many cleaning crews receive training courses when a new product or piece of equipment is introduced. Then there is a small number of state training centres, but since their trainers don’t have extensive experience in cleaning practice themselves, they are not so significant for the industry.

The proper training of cleaning personnel is essential – in order to get the job done efficiently and correctly. When the cleaning company owns the training centre, this supports the company’s positive image.  As a rule, having a training centre is an indication of the company’s wide-ranging experience and ability to operate on many different levels. When we mention in a client presentation that we have our own training centre, it certainly helps us to win the contract.

Economic instability

Just 10 years ago cleaning crews consisted of very different people. Even those with university degrees had to work as cleaners in order to survive in times of economic instability. But within the last five or six years the situation has changed, and sometimes it’s hard to find cleaning staff with knowledge of the Russian language, not to  mention cleaning staff of Russian nationality. Although many clients would like to see Russian cleaners at their building, these requests are often totally unrealistic. And it is even more unrealistic when the customer requests that residents of Moscow clean the building.

The vast majority of cleaning operators are from Central Asia – Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. Some cleaners also come to Moscow from Moldova and Ukraine. Good people are  always needed, that’s why one of the main tasks each contract manager has to face is to create a positive working atmosphere and keep personnel motivated - otherwise they will be head hunted by the competition.

Through our own experience we have found that if someone has already worked five shifts, he will stay at the site for a long time, even if he is not at all happy with this option. It’s clear that nobody wishes to mop floors for the rest of his life but we have cases in our own company where operators work for three to four years at the same contract.


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