Importance of Due-Diligence for House-keeping staff: The SRM university case study

Chennai, the beautiful coastal city, receives hundreds of migrants every day from all over the country, and sometimes from abroad too. People come into the city for education, employment, tourism and so on. It is just like any other major city in India. While helping its people grow, Chennai itself grows through such migrants.

This happened in the SRM University, Kattankulathur, Chennai on 22nd November 2018. A hostel student got into the lift on the way to her room. Inside the lift was a house-keeping staff who collects the waste food from the hostel mess and takes it out. This man apparently started making lewd actions at the girl. The girl, who was frightened to death, tried to escape out of the lift to the very next floor possible. The man seems to have tried to block the path but the girl managed to escape.

This girl went straight to her hostel warden and complained about the man and the whole incident. However, the warden denied to give much importance to the situation and asked the girl to let it go. Within hours, the incident and the reaction of the warden who was supposed to be responsible for the girls in her hostel reached all the girls in the hostel. And soon enough, almost half the students in the university heard about the incident through the girls and students started coming forth to protest on behalf of the victim. Today, hundreds of students stand outside within the gates of SRM University in protest against the harassment as well as the negligence of the management.

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In a matter of 48 hours, a giant of an educational institution’s reputation has reached the ground and all this because of one horrible housekeeping staff. Yes, truly, the management of the institution is very negligent!

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The university in question receives hundreds of students from all over the country and the mountain task of the safety of these students is, of course, the institution’s responsibility. Today, a girl has suffered harassment in the hands of a housekeeping staff. Tomorrow it could very well be a teaching staff or a person from the management team itself, who could stoop down to this level! If only there was a way to avoid such disasters!

Usually, Large Organizations and Institutions outsourced Housekeeping activities such as Cleaning, Cooking, Lift operation, Electrical maintenance, Air-condition maintenance, Pantry works etc. to Facility Management Service Providers. Learning from many above such incidents reveal that it is a collective responsibility of both the Organization and the facility management service providers to take appropriate steps to ensure the safety in the workplace and to be more cautious while hiring and deputing blue collar candidates who are involved in the services of the mass of people. One of the most significant steps is to do proper Due-diligence to ascertain the complete Background of the Candidate prior to their recruitment. Third Party Background Verification plays a vital role in this part. From our experience, Mitigating Risk involved in Hiring and deputing a blue collar candidate is more complicated than the White Collar candidates as they are weaker in controlling their emotions.

However, there is a way. Consider, the current and permanent address checks of each and every housekeeping staff were on files and was professionally verified including proper Reference Checks. Consider, the criminal records of every staff was checked and filed appropriately. Consider, every aspect of the staff’s personal and professional life was on the files and in the hands of the management. No staff would ever dare to go out of line or do something adverse that could not only affect them, but could also affect their family and their reputation! Hence the importance of professional background verification and Third party housekeeping staff verification.

This situation could have been avoided by a small but conscious step by the facility management company that provides housekeeping staff for the institution. Alternatively, the management should also have ensured that the staff that they are letting into their gates are all professionally verified by the facility management companies. Even one of these actions would have ensured better safety of the students and safeguarded the reputation of the institution.

Because when it comes to the reputation of an institution or organization and the safety of people involved with them, each and every act of precaution plays a major role!


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