Pig racing and toasts for Shirley Ellis

At the beginning of October, we celebrated the new adventure ahead for our HR and Business Services Manager Shirley Ellis as she takes early retirement to Sweden.  Of course, we were all sad to see her depart as Shirley has been a key member of the ServiceMaster team for over 8 years. To give her a great send-off in recognition of all she has achieved, we held a party in our large meeting room, featuring pig racing, a buffet, toasts and a few tears. The pig racing went down a storm, with one of our Area Managers transforming into a Worzel Gummidge character to compere the event.  The evening went well with speeches from Shirley and Nick Dee Shapland, MD, wishing Shirley and husband David every happiness.  Juanita Holloway has now stepped up to become HR Manager and is enjoying her new challenge.

ServiceMaster raises a mug to Macmillan cancer care.

On 26th September, ServiceMaster joined forces with companies and supporters around the country to bake, eat and donate for Macmillan. We all donned our aprons and wooden spoons to put our culinary skills to the test to raise money for the fantastic charity that cares for people living with cancer and their loved ones, which will affect 1 in 3 of us during our lifetime. All morning we welcomed guests from local businesses, residents, and passing traffic to our offices where we had a café area set up, with over 30 types of cakes and pastries, and hot drinks on tap. Towards the end of the event, a few staff members wandered the streets in the local areas with boxes of cakes, enticing people that couldn’t get away from their desks. For the customers who could make it into the offices, there was a raffle for the chance to win one of several prizes kindly donated by our colleagues and supporters. The prizes included an MOT, Diamond earrings, two bottles of Prosecco, and a remote controlled helicopter, and more. At the 2013 Macmillan coffee morning, ServiceMaster raised a total of £364, and this year we aimed to beat that total. This year, with the raffle and cake sales, ServiceMaster raised £504, beating last year’s sum by a long way. The money raised by our kind supporters will help support and advise people living with cancer across the UK.

World Cup fever strikes England

Only a few weeks ago, the tabloids told us that England has the best World Cup squad in years. This gave fans the confidence to dress their homes and cars with St George flags and wear football shirts on even non-match days. The past weeks have been full of late-night football games, office sweepstakes and watching games where England isn’t involved. World Cup fever has divided a nation. The half that waves a flag at any opportunity, wearing facepaint and watching all games at every hour of the day and announcing the latest scores, have spent the summer in football heaven. The other half of the nation either don’t care about the sporting event, or despise it for playing havoc with TV scheduling and dominating conversations of loved ones. The best displays of patriotism are shown around sporting and national events, if you cast your minds back to the Olympics of 2012, Royal wedding and Diamond Jubilee, you will most likely remember the sea of Union Jacks waving frantically on our TV screens oozing pride and patriotism. On a normal day without big national events, we rarely see the St George cross or Union Jack adorning neighbours windows and car wing mirrors. The lack of acknowledgement points to a confusion in allegiances. As King Henry IV said: “Patriotism must be founded on great principals and supported by great virtue”. Because however you show support for your country, it should be shown consistently. Show the world you care, don’t wait for certain events to sing the praises of what you love. As for the World Cup, whether you are gripped by football fever or are sick of the sound of whistles, remember that from 13th July it will all be over for another four years!

Famous First Jobs

In a time of financial and career uncertainty, there are few jobs which last the test of time and external constraints. People don’t like to work in a messy environment, and when things get too messy and cluttered tensions can arise and the blame game starts. Luckily, by employing cleaners, workplaces can run seamlessly and can be cleaned in or around the business working hours. A lot of our cleaners are people working to top up their pensions, or returning to work by starting with a part-time role, working to supplement wages from other jobs, and students working to fund study, as well as many other walks of life. Cleaning is a role that suits people from all backgrounds, and opens doors to a range of opportunities. People that have started their professional lives in cleaning and have gone on to other careers include Sylvester Stallone who cleaned out a lion enclosure but is better known for cleaning up in a boxing ring as Rocky Balboa, and Stephen King, who was a cleaner in a high school to fund his degree. It was here he came up with the story behind Carrie, a high school student with psychic powers, which became one of the most well-known horror stories with film adaptations. Jim Carrey left school at 15 to help his father earn money for the family by cleaning at a school. He would rehearse his stand-up routines while scrubbing the gymnasium floor, which eventually led to him being one of the most successful comedians and earning a star on the Hollywood walk of fame. Michael Dell, the Founder and CEO of DELL Inc, one of the leading names in computers funded his degree by washing dishes at a Chinese restaurant in Austin Texas. He later dropped out of university and is now the 41st richest person in the world according to Forbes. We love a success story at ServiceMaster, and nurturing the talents of our staff. The person who cleans your office or removes stains from your rugs could be a future billionaire or film star!


May brings out the best of barmy Britain

As we mark the start of summer with two bank holidays in May, we have a chance to spend quality time with our friends and family, and see some of what makes Britain great. With any luck, the weather stays dry and the beautiful areas around the south of England are more enjoyable bathed in the early glow of summer. As well as trips to the coast and national parks, there are hundreds of events taking place all across the country suited to all ages and interests. One of the quirkier events-Cheese rolling in Gloucestershire- attracts crowds from as far afield as New Zealand and South Africa and involves tumbling down a steep hill chasing a ball of cheese. The event always gets great feedback and is not for the faint-hearted, although fun to watch! In London, the last weekend hosts RHS Chelsea Flower Show, which draws in green-fingered audiences from across Europe. We love May and all it brings; the promise of a balmy summer and the barbeques and events that we look forward to throughout the wet and windy winter. If the weather disappoints, there is always the option of cleaning out the house, donating old clothes to charity, and making some space for a new summer wardrobe or garden furniture. Although, you can always count on great British optimism to encourage droves of city dwellers to sit on the beach wrapped in thermals and blankets with ice-creams in hand.

Start of a new financial year

At ServiceMaster Thames Valley HQ, we’re always working with new business aims and targets for the year ahead, for promotions and clients, as well as our more personal targets, including our internal slimming club, and personal progression. As the days are getting longer again, we feel more energetic, and have another year of opportunities ahead of us. A whole summer of holidays, sport, bank holidays, barbeques and festivals reward us for our hard work throughout the year, and act as incentives for those days when life just feels too much. At ServiceMaster Clean, we appreciate the value of maintaining a healthy work/life balance and enjoy our time at work as much as our treasured weekends and holidays. We are lucky to have a great support network of staff across our region, so it’s impossible to feel overwhelmed or burdened for long before someone asks if they can help. It’s this personal relationship that makes the difference between a job for money, and a career for enjoyment. We always strive to make the working environment enjoyable for everyone around us, which is reflected in the way our colleagues start and finish work with a spring in their step.

March 2014: Sochi Winter Paralympics

We have fond memories of the Olympics and Paralympics in London two years ago. For a summer, our public transport ran more efficiently than ever, Union Jacks were flying proudly everywhere you looked, and people were talking about unheard of sports-Slalom, anyone? The opening and closing ceremonies were broadcast on the BBC to record-breaking audience figures, and the crowds died down for a recess before the Paralympics two weeks later. Channel 4 won the rights to broadcast the Paralympics and launched one of the biggest advertising and social media campaigns in history; ‘Meet the superhumans’ an homage to the stars of the show including Ellie Simmonds, Sarah Storey, and David Weir among others, telling the stories of how they got to the games and demonstrating their strengths.

Because of the strong advertising campaign and the momentum it built, the Paralympic coverage was the highest rated show on Channel 4 in 2012. Previous to this, in Beijing and before, the Paralympics were just a blip on the radar of broadcasters and audiences. As well as becoming the most successful Paralympics in history by viewership, the success of the 2012 games has spawned TV shows including The Last Leg featuring comedians with varying disabilities debating weekly topics, and turned some of the paralympians into household names. The Olympic legacy lives on, as we are now facing the Sochi Paralympic winter games, hoping for the first winter Paralympic gold for team GB. Despite controversy surrounding the venue choice, the games will be shown by Channel 4 again, continuing our appreciation of the underdog. The ‘superhuman’ strength and abilities of our sports personalities demonstrates the ability to achieve against all odds, and inspired a nation to try something new, giving us the attitude ‘If they can do it…so can we’ Long may the legacy continue, reminding us that anything is possible if we try hard enough.

Half-term pressure cooker

As the nights get shorter and we come closer to the clocks changing, the first half-term approaches, along with the daunting task of entertaining children for a week. For most parents, this means taking a week off work, paying out for expensive childcare, relying on family or friends to help out, or if they’re old enough; letting them fend for themselves. This usually involves getting home from a hard day at work, with the kitchen messier than you left it in the morning and children nowhere to be seen, or still where you left them 9 hours ago.

The generations-old dilemma of entertaining young children, often on a budget, has parents worried that the traditional arts & crafts, cooking, and physical activities that they once enjoyed are fading, alongside the attention span of their children. As Mary Poppins famously said: ‘In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun’ which can be applied to employment and housework. By getting younger children involved in messy tasks like painting, sticking and muddy garden work, encouraging them to tidy it away afterwards teaches good habits in clearing up after themselves, keeping a tidy work area, and finding fun in tasks that may seem mundane. We can all learn from our inner child and keep our surroundings tidy, and look for enjoyment in boring tasks.

2014: A year of giving

Since our inception in 1991, we have endeavoured to hold fundraising events for worthwhile causes including Macmillan cancer support, Children in Need, CRY, Movember, staff members, and national campaigns. As well as continuing our support for these deserving charities, we are looking to extend our reach to the local area, and build relationships with groups across the regions we cover. To kick off our new year of giving, we are scrubbing the non-slip floor of the Diamond Tadley Scout Hut, which is home to the local scouting groups, as well as WI meetings, and dance classes. The building was opened with great anticipation in February 2012, and has since been in constant use. As the site received more and more footfall during the year, Tadley Scout Group chairman Brian Spray decided that it was time to get the venue back to its best. After contacting ServiceMaster Clean Newbury, it was agreed that the floor would be cleaned and buffed in January.

“When Chairman Brian Spray contacted ServiceMaster Clean of Newbury for a quotation, we had already begun discussing our involvement in the local community, and were considering ways in which we could help groups in 2014. The timing was perfect, and we waived the fees involved in the clean, as we thought it would be a great start to the year for our own community efforts, and for the scout groups, who would benefit from the clean.” Says ServiceMaster Clean Newbury MD, Nick Dee Shapland.

The clean went to plan from the start, and left chairman Brian Spray delighted with the work undertaken: “We had been considering getting the floor cleaned before the building was finished, as we have about 200 people using the hut in a typical week. We found ServiceMaster Clean in the Newbury Weekly News for the customer service award win, and we’ve had no problems. The service has been great and the results are very noticeable. I’m looking forward to seeing the team for next year’s floor clean”.

Washout start to 2014

As the news has been telling us, we have experienced some of the worst flooding in years, due to heavy rainfall over the festive period. With a matter of days between outbursts, there has been little chance for the country’s drainage systems to keep up with the extra pressure, resulting in inaccessible roads, irreparable damage to homes and property, and destroyed flood defences. So far, cost of the damage is still rising as people do their best to maintain a sense of normality, although across most of the UK, the weather seems to be calming. Once the dirty flood water has receded, homes across the UK are left with dirty, sewage-ridden carpets and furniture, often with sentimental value. The aftermath of the flooding tends to get overlooked, and people can feel overwhelmed with the amount of destruction around them. A good home & contents insurance policy should cover the restoration or replacement of damaged items, but if you discover your policy isn’t up to scratch, our disaster restoration team are highly skilled and sensitive to dealing with flood damaged properties.