Living Wage Employer Case-study: Sparkles Cleaning
Cynnal Cymru are the accrediting body in Wales for the Living Wage Foundation’s Accreditation scheme. With over 100 accredited employers in Cardiff- as part of the Cardiff as a Living Wage City ambitions and Action plan we hope to raise that number to 150 and increase the number of people in the City working for an accredited employer to 48,000 by 2022.
As part of that vision, we are presenting case studies of Cardiff employers who have already made their commitment to fair pay to see the difference that accreditation has made to them and their employees.
Today, we focus on Sparkles Cleaning Services Wales and West Limited. Sparkles Cleaning Services has a strong heritage. Founded in South Wales by Ceri Jennings 17 years ago, the business has flourished. From helping people make their homes Sparkle to now helping businesses and national organisations create pleasant and safe places to work.
However, Sparkles has a dual role: to provide stress free professional cleaning, and to provide secure employment to individuals in difficult circumstances.
As such, one of their principles is ‘What Matters to Our People’. This is not just a slogan on a poster somewhere, but how we behave. People who join Sparkles are often surprised when they are asked this at the beginning, expecting to be told, instead, what the job entails and what they will be doing.
They work with the following organisations in their dual role of providing stress free professional cleaning, and providing secure employment with:
Cardiff City Council, Cardiff Adult Learning, The Hubs in Cardiff, PACE, and the ESOL Teams. They are registered as a Work Trial Employer, a Disability Confident Employer and are part of the Cardiff Commitment Drive.
They believe the role of leadership is to add value to those undertaking the value creation roles – those undertaking the cleaning – so spend a great deal of time asking, “What gets in the way of you doing a good job?”. Leadership effort is then focused on removing obstacles.
However, this is a two-way relationship, where everyone is encouraged to take responsibility. Individuals are asked to try and solve problems themselves, and find out, and do, what matters to customers.
They have found that this leads to lower turnover of staff, and have a loyal team, proud of their role as a result. In addition, they have seen an increase in turnover of 400% in the last two years, as customers experience the benefit from their approach.
On a practical level, they continually invest in training, and pay everyone above the real living wage. In addition, they have recently provided the second profit share with everyone, which was very welcomed, particularly due to the difficulties some of their team members have found during the covid-19 situation. The profit share is not related to sales targets, but is simply a reflection that the reason the company has made a profit is due to the hard work of their team – so everyone should get a share in the benefits. Additionally, the profit share was equal, regardless of the usual hours individuals worked, reflecting the fact that everyone contributes, no matter the hours they are able to offer.
They are now taking further steps, in their wish to move away from the traditional employment relationship, and are co-producing with everyone, a rights and responsibilities document based on how everyone wishes to work with each other. This is built on their work teaching teams therapeutic skills to enable them to settle disagreements and solve problems together, where they have seen fantastic progress.
They are keen to be an exemplar of working differently in practice, and are confident that what they have achieved can be achieved in other organisations. If other organisations are inspired to take action themselves, they feel a real difference can be made to the Foundational Economy in Cardiff, where more money is kept in the pockets of people living and working in the area, improving economic prosperity in the region.
“It is important to us that we recognise the hard work of our teams, and ensuring we pay the Living Wage, to reflect the real cost of living, is one of the ways we look to do that. We hope our accreditation will inspire other organisations to do the same.”
Simon Pickthall, Director