Leaders Forum: Sarah McBride, CEO, BSCNZ

How was 2022 for BSCNZ? What where the highlights? What were the challenges?

For the first time in three years the BSCNZ was able to run face-to-face industry events…… and so we did!

In March, we celebrated the industry’s best with the CleanSweep Awards.  This was followed by the CleanNZ Expo in October – giving distributors, manufacturers, and suppliers the opportunity to engage across a wide network of building facility management and commercial cleaning operators. A highlight was the presence of international brands, in attendance to learn and network. It is always exciting to see the new innovations displayed by exhibitors.

Lastly, in October we held our Evolve conference. This covered important topics such as the current and forecasted economic state of play, the potential impact of legislative changes, the learnings from the past few years and how we can integrate those learnings into our future planning.  All three events were great networking opportunities after such a hiatus between major events.

Another highlight was our ongoing work with the Ministry of Social Development.  Through our work broker programme, in 2022, placing 130 individuals into employment with BSCNZ members.  We continue this work in 2023, but as everyone can agree, with unemployment currently at 3.3 per cent finding labour continues to be an issue across multiple industries.

What are the BSCNZ’s main priorities for 2023?

Advocating on behalf of our industry and members. This has never been more critical for multiple reasons; we are heading into an election year.

A change in government and therefore a potential change in political agenda, or a re-elected ‘re-branded’ Labour government. If Labour is re-elected, we will see the progression of Fair Pay Agreements, and all the complexities this legislation will inevitably bring.

Also the potential of the mandatory insurance scheme which could mean an increase in tax by 1.4 per cent for every employee and employer throughout NZ. Immigration settings that make it impossible for industries like ours to obtain the labour required to deliver our essential service.

Regardless of who ends up running this country, it is critical the BSCNZ advocate to ensure our industry voice is heard by our country’s leaders. The last census showed our industry is 29,245 workers strong, GDP contributing $1.3 billion. Our industries contribution in NZ is significant.

This significance is highlighted as we all continue to navigate our way through covid. Recent flooding in the upper North Island is another key example of how our industry are on the frontline when disaster strikes. We literally turn up and clean up!

Another priority of the BSCNZ will be to focus on our industry training.  With the government’s implementation of RoVE (Reform of Vocational Education), as an industry we have an opportunity to engage with the new established entities.

Careerforce is now integrated into Te Pukenga and mandated to deliver industry training. Ringa Hora is our new workforce development council required to engage with NZ service industries and set industry qualifications and standards.

BSCNZ will be coordinating the important discussions between industry, key stakeholders, and these new entities. Having those essential and valuable conversations.  Ensuring our industry training is fit for purpose now and into the future.

What do you see as some of the challenges the market will face in 2023?

Inflation and the rising cost of doing business, which inevitably leads to passing on customer price increases. The challenge of managing customers’ expectations, working with them as they also face the pressure of taking cost out of managing their portfolios.  Customer education is a key component of this, halving the cleaning bill will not halve the work.

Another challenge is the changes in the political environment. Ensuring the leaders of this country and policy makers understand the unique issues that our industry faces.  Ensuring political leaders understand the unintended consequences of the policies they have made or will make.  The obvious solution is the importance of networking and having those crucial conversations when needed.

Staff burn out is another challenge well worth mentioning. Taking care of your operational staff on the frontline is imperative. In the past few years many of our team members have stepped up and gone above and beyond expectations.

With that comes a mental and physical fatigue, I believe it is truly important to acknowledge these important team members and support them where we can.

What opportunities do you see for the industry in 2023?

Working with industry customers to continue to highlight the importance of the service our industry provides. Through pandemics and natural disasters, we are the industry that turns up.

We will celebrate Thank Your Cleaner Day this year on Wednesday, 18 October 2023. This celebratory day is a great way to promote this important message.

This first appeared in the February issue of INCLEAN NZ magazine. 

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