Theresa Ffrench

Theresa Ffrench joined Luton and Dunstable University Hospital in January 2016, but became an ISS employee when the facilities management contract for the hospital was won by the company during the Covid-19 pandemic. At the time that ISS Key Account Manager Shannon Sweeney joined the team, employee morale was at an all-time low. 

Before, you weren’t allowed to speak your mind or have an opinion,” Theresa says. “If your feedback isn’t heard, then you can’t excel. You just stay exactly where you are.”

Things were so bad that ISS and the union were locked in an ongoing dispute with management that had progressed as far as a ballot for industrial action. 

Things started to change when Shannon revisited claims that were made as part of the grievance process—and where complaints were upheld, individuals were held accountable. 

That idea of accountability, irrespective of role, organisation, background or circumstance, has become one of the key pillars of the change that’s being delivered on the ground. And today, the attitude of the team at Luton and Dunstable couldn’t be more different. 

It’s simple,” Theresa explains. “We tell the team that if anyone treats them in a way they are unhappy with, they need to bring it up. Then we handle each case in the same way. If there’s something that needs to be raised with an individual, we pull them to one side and we have that conversation. And we hold them, and ourselves, accountable for changing the behaviour.”

Now, people know we’re here to help

Theresa Ffrench, Housekeeping Manager, Luton and Dunstable University Hospital

Theresa is also part of a diversity and inclusion working group, which aims to break down barriers between colleagues, support open and honest communication, and provide everyone in the team with the support they need to thrive.

You start to make change with a small group of people who all have the same goal,” she says. “In our case, that meant creating a work environment and culture where people are happy to come into work and where they feel free to be themselves.”

For her, that means listening to colleagues and actively explaining why certain behaviours aren’t appropriate. “My mindset hasn’t changed,” she adds. “It’s the same as before. I just want people to be happy and comfortable at work. The difference is that before, nobody understood. We weren’t heard.

Now, people know we’re here to help. If they have a problem, instead of going straight to the union, they knock on my door or Shannon’s door. They know we’ll support them and we’ll act on their concerns. We don’t let things slide.”

Theresa knows there’s a long way to go. But, for the first time in a long time, she says it feels like everything’s pulling in the right direction.

I’ve received more support from ISS in the last six months than I did in the previous five years. I want us to work in an environment where everyone has a voice, feels they can be open and honest, and receives the support they deserve. Here, we say, ‘One team; one dream’, and that’s what I want—for us all to achieve our goals together.”