Aligning HR Strategies to Wider Business Goals

Next it’s Martin Ferguson, MD, and Sara McTrusty, HR Manager of MJF Cleaning Services.

Doing it right when no one else is looking – great tag line!  And a great link to leadership – sign of a great leader to be able to leave their team and they still deliver because they know where they’re heading.

MJF has about 130 staff and they’ve also just acquired a company in Yorkshire so now have a satellite office in Leeds, with main operation in Darlington.  They’ve got some big clients and work in a variety of sectors (leisure, sport) and do more than daily cleaning.  The acquisition in Leeds has opened up National Defence market to them too.

The business has gone from strength to strength through people.  After some holiday-thinking-time Martin realised that they needed to do something different.  They’d previously used an outsourced HR service before which hadn’t worked for them.  It felt too impersonal.  And given the competitive nature of the industry they knew they needed to attract and keep the best people.  They wanted people who knew what MJF were trying to achieve as a business and people who wanted to come to work every day.  A tough ask in such a tough industry.

Sara joined the team as HR for the business to take the generic processes, making them right for the business and the industry.  And keeping things simple with as little paperwork as possible.

So they looked at appraisal processes, at more rigour in the probation period, at training managers with this.  And they’ve kept the pay and reward element separate to the appraisals.  But which doesn’t exclude recognition – they do raffles and prizes to recognise great work and make it fun.  They focus on getting the basics right – so often overlooked for the new and shiny!  They also have a staff recognition scheme called STAR (special thanks and recognition) which Martin makes decision on.  They publicise – inc;udng on SoMe 🙂 – the people being recognised, but not the prizes because it’s about what people do not what they get.  Nice.  And they use SoMe to create a sense of community so their solo cleaners don’t feel they’re the only one up at 4am!

A great sense of Sara making decisions to do things that balance doing people-stuff that will meet their’s and the business needs without excessive time or expense.  And a great sense of really understanding the reality on the ground – connected to staff and customers.

People in this industry will just leave for 5p more an hour so MJF have focussed on developing and valuing existing and staff because this is better for customers, but also better for the business in saving re-recruitment costs, and having people who care about MJF.  They even send everyone a birthday card!

But all this focus and personalisation of what they do is being worked in a fairly traditional model with Darlington as the hub, Area Managers taking those messages out to the teams – I wonder whether there’ll be a time when the business needs to be less top-down to remain agile and innovative?




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