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How Do You Measure Up? Using Audits as a Tool for Improvement

It’s audit season, and for people unfamiliar with the (OS1) process, that means it’s the time when we hit the streets to review how (OS1) users are doing. Some might view this as unnecessary, but it’s really what sets our system apart from any other cleaning program. You see, understanding the OS1 program and implementing it in an organization is just part of the process. The key to success is ongoing measurement, which is achieved through an audit. 

For an (OS1) user, performance is critical. A central tenant of our philosophy is “to clean for health protection first and appearance second.” To accomplish this, we want to be sure our users are cleaning in a way that creates a healthy condition by reducing exposures and risks. 

Over the past 20-plus years that we’ve been performing audits, we’ve found that they are a great way for custodial managers to keep staff focused because it discourages complacency. When people hear that someone will be coming to their facility to watch them work, ask them questions and evaluate the condition of their equipment and supply cabinets to establish compliance with the (OS1) system, they tend to stay on top of their game. 

For a manager, audits are also a great way to benchmark cleaning levels and set goals for higher performance. At the end of an audit, the operation is provided a complete report that identifies areas of compliance and non-compliance. Pictures accompany the report to validate report findings. Each audit is scored and benchmarked against other (OS1) operations so users know where they stand.

An audit will review all training logs to ensure that custodial staff members receive ongoing development and training.

We’ve seen organizations that operate at a superior audit score go without an audit for a few years, and we’re always surprised to see how quickly complacency can derail the system. For example, at one large university, users were regularly getting audit scores of 90 percent and higher. They went three years without an audit, and when we went back, they received a 65 percent score. Supply closets were disorganized, custodial workers couldn’t identify certain products or processes, equipment was dirty—not what we’d expect from an (OS1) user. 

The best organizations work like they’re always facing an audit. They set goals. They look for ways to improve the way they clean. 

If your cleaning department is just going through the motions and you’re looking for ideas to take it to the next level, here are a few key performance indicators we’d recommend tracking, in addition to common indicators such as supply costs and turnover:

Training: Set educational goals for your team. In addition to regular in-services that provide them with training on work-related topics such as blood borne pathogens, chemical handling or ergonomics, provide them with resources to other training they can take through local vocational schools or industry organizations. Tie training goals to their performance reviews so they understand the importance of personal development. 

Safety: Look at how often custodial workers are injured and work to identify the cause of the injuries. Approximately 16,480 cleaners are injured each year from overexertion. If your team experiences back or neck injuries, consider strategies such as using lighter-weight equipment, increasing the number of storage closets available or pre-shift warm up exercises. Track injury rates and Workers Compensation payouts to see how your department measures overtime. 

Workload Balance: Evaluate the responsibilities and tasks assigned to custodial workers to ensure that they are evenly balanced between each team member. While this is a soft metric, it is critical that the balance is regularly evaluated to ensure the even distribution of responsibilities. 

Complaints: It regularly surprises us how organizations handle complaints. A lot of times, custodial managers will just handle the issue at hand and be done with it. Tracking complaints over time can help you gain insight into the root issue and potentially remove the condition that is causing the complaint. An obvious example might be that if you’re regularly receiving complaints about water spills in the restroom, you could add another cleaning rotation.

You will never know if you are taking your custodial operation to the next level if you aren’t measuring—whether internally or using an independent expert to help evaluate your operations. We’d love to hear what KPIs you evaluate — join us for a discussion on our Linkedin page! 

Our Top Seven Posts from 2017

As we wind down an amazing whirlwind of a year, we’d first like to thank you for taking the time to read our musings on cleaning. We’re almost a year into this blogging thing and have learned so much about what you want to read, how you read it and ways we we can continue to deliver great information to help improve the way you look at and manage your custodial departments.

Earlier this month, we also launched the first issue of “Cleaning Matters,” a monthly electronic newsletter with best practices related to cleaning management and information to keep you updated about what’s happening in our world. If you didn’t receive a copy of it and would like to subscribe, please click here.

As we work to develop our calendar for next year, we thought we’d leave you with a recap of our top posts from this year. Here are the five most “liked” and clicked on posts from 2017:

  1. Let’s Take a Minute to Thank a Cleaner: Our tribute to the hardworking people who work when most others are sleeping, cleaning the buildings where we live, work, learn, heal and play.
  2. What Happens When People Walk into a Building and See Dirt: A study found that 99 percent of people would have a negative perception of a business that wasn’t clean. When it comes to repeat customers, it turns out that appearance really matters.
  3. Think “Janitor” Is a Dirty Word? No, and Here’s Why: In this post, we dive into the origins of the word “janitor” and look at the profession of cleaning around the world.
  4. The Problem with the Way We’re Training Custodial Workers Today: Too often, custodial workers are handed a mop and told to clean without much additional instruction. We look into why that approach can yield big issues for a business.
  5. Provo City Schools – Part I: What is “Clean,” Anyway? We examine Dr. Jeffrey Campbell’s ground-breaking study on the impact of cleaning on public health in a three-part series; Part I looks at how we define cleanliness.
  6. A Look at Restrooms Around the World on World Toilet Day: From bayakou in Haiti to tsukaiyausa in Japan, a glimpse at restrooms and sanitation around the world.
  7. How You Can Use Data to Reduce the Threat of Outsourcing: How to get the data you need to prevent your custodial department from being outsourced.

Again, thank you for your support over the past year. We have some incredible things planned for 2018 and are so excited to have you along for this journey. If you have a topic you’d like to learn more about in the coming months, let us know and we’ll put it on the schedule!

Why Cleaning Professionals Are Flocking to Janitor University

You know that feeling you get when you step off a roller coaster? That disoriented moment when you try to collect your thoughts because the rush was so incredible that “what’s next” becomes secondary to “wow, I can’t believe that just happened.”

That’s us right now, coming off a high from one of the best weeks of Janitor University (JU) in its almost 25-year history. We had the largest class in several years, with a diverse group of attendees joining us from academia, government agencies, laboratories and building service contractors. Some attendees were taking refresher courses to earn their masters or professor certificates, but we also hosted a lot newcomers to the class. Why is this exciting? Because it tells us that many professionals are interested in learning how to manage cleaning in a way that promotes a healthy indoor environment rather than polluting the indoors by spreading around dirt through ineffective products and practices.

As students get settled in on the first day, we talk through the current issues in the industry and why a standardized approach to cleaning is so important.

Since we’re regularly out in the field working one-on-one with managers, janitors and custodians, we have a lot of great images and stories that bring these points to life. The most important lesson during the first day of class is the stigma attached to cleaning and how we need to work in a way that brings professionalism to the industry and pride to the individuals performing the work. tThe first day of this course sets up the next day where we defined what a high performance cleaning system looks like.

On the second day of the program, we review the four most important functions of cleaning management. This includes:

1) Daily kitting and how to monitor the amount of solution and product used by custodial workers.

2) Tracking communication for complaints, requests, mistakes and compliments.

3) Practical tracking of equipment use in order to plan for preventative maintenance.

4) Performing quality assessments internally based on process factors. We like to call this “quality assessments without the white glove.”

Another great piece students to JU enjoy is the work loading exercise. Recognizing that most cleaning professionals can’t agree on a common-set of work loading terms, we distill the components into a game to help simplify the principles behind work loading. Because, simplification! Beyond all the knowledge and education, attendees also benefit from the networking that happens during the event. We regularly hear stories from people who develop professional contacts and friendships that last long after Janitor University is over.

All attendees are encouraged to sign up for the class at least once every three years, because we’re regularly updating the curriculum so it reflects the current recommended best practices for cleaning.

Albert Einstein once said, “The measure of intelligence is the ability to change.” As an industry, we have to get smarter and change the way we’re cleaning our buildings. If the students to last week’s JU are any indication, we’re on the way. We’ve had more than 2,000 people complete the program over the years, and attendees regularly tell us that JU is the most comprehensive cleaning management curriculum they’ve seen.

If you’re interested in participating in an upcoming Janitor University, stay tuned! We’ve got exciting news as we’ll be taking JU on the road in 2018. We are looking for more ways to enable cleaning professionals to participate in our courses, so we hope you’ll join us!

 

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Janitor University: Educating People from Around the Industry and Beyond

Approximately 10 percent of the average custodial budget is dedicated to “stuff” or the products and equipments used to clean the facility—that’s about $20 billion a year, based on our estimates. The other 90 percent of a custodial budget is dedicated to labor, which adds up to approximately $200 billion a year. Outside of a few federal regulatory standards established by agencies like the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), very few standards or systems are in place to regulate how cleaning is performed. As a result, people clean in a variety of different ways, which results in cleaning that looks like this:

and this:

There’s also a large gap in the amount of training resources available to educate facility managers and custodial professionals on how to manage the products and equipment used in their business (10%) and the amount of training to help them manage the labor (90%).

There are several fantastic training programs offered by manufacturers and distributors around topics like disinfection and stain removal, but very few provide insights on how to create a career path for frontline cleaning workers to reduce turnover.

That’s where Janitor University (JU) comes in. JU is a professional development class designed for cleaning executives, facility directors, contractors and anyone else with relationship to a professional cleaning operation. The curriculum, developed by end-users, is updated on an ongoing basis and largely focuses on how to manage that 90 percent of your budget. It teaches attendees how to develop custodial operations that can be managed and tracked on a daily basis.

We’ve recently started to see more people attending JU who aren’t directly responsible for cleaning operations, but, for example, may be designing the rooms and picking the surfaces in a hospital or laboratory that will need to be cleaned and maintained. This tells us that more people are paying attention to cleaning and understanding its impact—a great thing! Last week, we hosted a JU Train the Trainer course that included representatives from one of the leading facilities management companies, industry manufacturers, product designers, professional trainers and an architect!

Our April Train the Trainer session brought together dozens of people, including facility management professionals, designers and architects.

When people come out to JU for the first time, they never know what quite to expect. While we do a lot of classroom style instruction during a JU session supported by real-life scenarios and data we’ve collected, there is also a lot of dialogue and sharing between participants. Attendees to JU will leave with several new contacts, an understanding of how to effectively manage that remaining 90 percent of their budget and have hopefully had some fun!

As anyone who is responsible for cleaning knows, custodial operations have a significant impact on the health of building occupants, the lifespan of a building and the overall cost of a facility’s budget (more than 30 percent!). So it’s exciting to see the different groups of people who want to learn more about what we do. When more people understand how to clean using a systematic and measurable approach, everyone wins.