Cleaning staff facing ‘burnout’ due to severe staff shortages

11th of January 2022
Cleaning staff facing ‘burnout’ due to severe staff shortages

Industry leaders have warned that cleaning staff in healthcare, hospitality and other parts of the sector are facing burnout because of increased workloads due to the Covid-19 pandemic and severe staff shortages.

The extra procedures and protocols put in place during the pandemic to protect people's health along with the current severe staff shortages in the sector, compounded by staff absences due to winter illnesses and the disease itself and increasing numbers of personnel leaving the industry, have all put enormous pressure on staff.

The situation is so serious, and so widespread, that the British Cleaning Council (BCC) warned recently the health of members of the public could be put at risk because of difficulties maintaining the measures needed to keep the UK's buildings hygienically clean and reduce the risk of the Covid-19 virus spreading. It has called for urgent Government help.

Delia Cannings, BCC deputy chair said: ""We are starting to see the cracks in the healthcare sector, with shortcuts, slip-ups and accidents increasing. What can we do if we can't get the staff? We are not miracle workers, we simply cannot keep this pace up. The health and wellbeing of our workforce is at stake here.

"Fractures are appearing from all sides. Very few staff are available, the labour market has almost dried up. Agency staff where available are not adequately trained.

"Staff absences are increasing every day due to colleagues becoming ill, self-isolating or simply fatigue. Staff are taking on extra duties and managers are rolling up their sleeves to help with the practical cleaning aspects yet are still unable to fill the gaps as well as manage and audit the cleaning service effectively.

"Many long-standing cleaning operatives with years of experience are choosing to leave the profession citing their roles as undervalued and the risk factors as too high.

"My healthcare cleaning colleagues are proud of their work and do their best to fill the gaps. Therefore longer shifts and overtime have become commonplace in an effort to support colleagues who are already exhausted and on their knees.

"This is not sustainable and will impact on people's physical and mental health. We are seeing cases of staff turning to alcohol and substance abuse, and anxiety, depression and domestic abuse are all rising. I fear we will see colleagues burning out in the longer term.

"The hospitality sector is suffering and under pressure as well. Cleaning requirements increased during the pandemic but now there are very few staff available. Agencies have ramped up costs but the few staff being supplied are not trained. Sadly, a little exploitation is kicking in with opportunists taking full advantage of an already dire situation."

Chairman of the BCC Jim Melvin echoed Cannings' sentiments. "Throughout the sector our people have been undervalued by a Government which says they are low skilled and won't recognise them as key workers.

"Cleaning and hygiene personnel are skilled in their own right and are proud to play a vital role as a first line of defence against Coronavirus by keeping buildings hygienically clean. But it is becoming more difficult to maintain the standards required because of severe staff shortages.

"We desperately need the Government to help otherwise the public's health will be put at risk and more and more of our staff will pay the price by burning out. "


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