Perception of Cleaning Workers

Houston, We Have an Image Problem

Having spent most of our professional careers working with custodians, we have seen the symptoms for years. Disrespect, feelings of invisibility, low morale—cleaning workers hold one of the most critical positions in maintaining public health and safety, but because they’re paid and treated like dispensable workers, most don’t understand the value of their work.

Many of these feelings were magnified by the pandemic, and now with the current labor market and worker shortages everywhere, cleaning departments everywhere are having a hard time filling vacant positions.

In many ways, we could see it coming. Low wages, high risk for injury, long hours, little recognition—add the factor of playing Russian roulette with a case of COVID and many people tapped out. 

While many industries are feeling the pinch, hospitality is taking a direct hit—particularly because many cleaning workers were laid off at the start of the pandemic. “Where are the housekeepers?” asks one USA Today headline. Due to labor shortages and apparent changes in consumer preferences, daily housekeeping will now be offered at many non-luxury hotels as an add-on service. 

Citing the labor issues, Mehmet Erdem, an associate professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas’ college of hospitality says:

“There’s a huge shortage. … We are seeing people say that this is a transient job, it’s not a career path, I’m opting in for something else. I think it will be very normal to (not have) daily housekeeping, but you have to opt-in, you have to request it, or you ask for extra linen or towels.”

Meanwhile, in Singapore…

Last June, we came across a fascinating article about how industry leaders in Singapore are launching an effort to attract younger cleaning workers to the industry. As many younger workers opted for gig jobs, such as those offered through ride-share and food delivery services, cleaning departments suffered from staffing shortages. 

“There’s a huge shortage. … We are seeing people say that this is a transient job, it’s not a career path, I’m opting in for something else. I think it will be very normal to (not have) daily housekeeping, but you have to opt-in, you have to request it, or you ask for extra linen or towels.”

Mehmet Erdem, Associate Professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas College of Hospitality

When asked if he would ever consider a career in the cleaning industry, a 23-year-old nursing student told the reporter, “The stereotype is that if you’re a cleaner, you have no future.”

In addition to raising wages, Environmental Management Association of Singapore (EMAS) President Tony Chooi says that changing the perception of cleaning work while mapping out career paths for cleaning workers must also be a focus: 

A list of professional skills you can acquire in the professional cleaning industry.

“There are two sides to most jobs and while cleaning is not the most glamorous of industries, its nature and scope has changed through the years with exciting developments in, for example, robotics and technology,” he said.

A “Sunrise Industry”

While automation may solve some of the cleaning industry’s labor woes, the increased demand for cleaning services will only continue to grow. That’s why Chooi refers to it as a “sunrise industry”—opportunities are on the horizon if you can help workers understand that cleaning is more than a “transient job” and offer them a solid career path for advancement.

Whatever your age, background or experience level, people who stick with custodial work and do a good job can gain several skillsets that can be applied across any professional environment. Sure, while entry-level cleaning workers will likely be responsible for handling cleaning duties, supervisory positions may require knowledge of things like budgeting, purchasing, vendor negotiations and more. 

The jobs aren’t solely limited to custodial work either. For in-house cleaning workers (people who are hired by a private company to handle cleaning duties, such as a housekeeper employed by Hilton) who like knowing that they play an important role in protecting the public health but enjoy sales and negotiating, they might consider working for a distributor who sells cleaning products. Many of these businesses also hire trainers to teach cleaning workers how to properly use their products. 

At ManageMen, we often find some of our best consultants are people who have been responsible for a custodial operation. Now they help us go out into the field and work with other custodial departments to help them follow best practices. 

Leading the Change

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the employment of Janitors and cleaners is projected to grow by 4 percent from 2019 to 2029—a projection made before the pandemic. If we expect to fill these positions, we need to do a better job of attracting younger people to our industry.

As we mentioned in this post, most custodial leaders don’t have the ability to raise wages and benefits, but here are a few things they can do to attract and retain workers: 

Try following the KEEP acronym:

Keep employees at the forefront. Take the time to talk to your staff members and get to know them. Listen to them and learn the names of people in their families. Ask them questions and show you’re interested in them as a person, not just as work.

Explain the importance of what they do. Help them understand the importance of their role. Make sure they know that cleaning isn’t just about helping a building look nice, but it’s about keeping people in that building stay healthy and safe too.

Empower them with training and advancement opportunities. Cleaning workers are one of the best customer service tools in your building. Empower them with training so they understand how to interact with others in the building and strategies to do their jobs better so they can be promoted and grow within their career. 

Preach their importance to other people in the building. In a hospital, that might be doctors and nurses, in a school, that could be students and teachers. The key is that other people in the facility have a greater appreciation for how cleaning workers help them. 

Studies routinely show that more engaged workers are higher performing. Showing workers that you truly value them will help KEEP them on your team in a competitive job market. 

picture of vacuum on hard floor

How Can Cleaning Impact Indoor Air Quality?

As regulations begin to loosen and signs of normalcy begin to appear following the pandemic, officials have started to look at how we can reduce the impact of a future pandemic. That’s a good thing—this type of response has led to a number of public health and safety measures over our history. For example, after the cholera outbreak, substantial improvements made to sanitation and drinking water systems were responsible for the clean water many of us drink today.

One of the primary issues this pandemic has brought to our attention was just how easily viruses can travel in indoor environments. This has led to experts sounding the alarm for better indoor air quality (IAQ) measures and regulations. 

A few recent headlines: 

Federal officials seek better rules about schools’ indoor air quality in NBC News

Covid-19 proved bad indoor air quality makes us sick. We can fix that. in Vox.

Before the next pandemic, it’s time to regulate indoor air quality in Fast Company.

If your manager, safety director or executive team has yet to discuss indoor air quality and how cleaning can impact it, keep on reading, because they will. Cleaning can have a massive impact on the indoor air quality of a building—through seemingly simple things like the products we use, how we maintain tools and the processes we use to clean. 

It might not seem like a big deal, but if a cleaner vacuums the floor before dusting surfaces, is he or she effectively removing unwanted material from the building?

No.

And that remaining dust impacts IAQ.

But we should start there—with the definition of “clean.” 

What Is Clean?

We generally follow Dr. Michael Berry’s definition, which is that “clean” is an environment free of unwanted matter. So whether or not that environment is a hard or soft surface or the air, “clean” means that it is completely free of unwanted matter, including volatile organic compounds (VOCs), dust, bacteria or viruses. 

A lot of people think that through the act of cleaning, much of the unwanted matter is removed. Sometimes this is the case.

But sometimes it’s not. And that’s what we want to focus on for this post. 

When not done properly, cleaning can have a negative impact on the health of building occupants. 

In his book, “Protecting the Built Environment: Cleaning for Health,” Michael Berry, Ph.D., says the following:

“A clean environment is sanitary. When a sanitary condition exists, an adverse health effect is unlikely. When environments are not properly maintained, sooner or later they will become unsanitary. There is no doubt about this natural fact. (108). 

He goes on to discuss the microscopic nature of pollutants in our indoor environments—an issue that was evidenced by the pandemic. Too often, we clean for appearance. Meaning that we clean for what the eye can see. To clean for health, we need to also effectively manage what we can’t see.

“What we think our cleaning equipment is accomplishing can be different from what it’s really doing,” said Berry. “Sometimes we assume that our cleaning equipment is extracting pollutants when it really isn’t. This is a common problem. 

“When we vacuum a carpet or floor, we usually see particles 40um and larger (a micrometer is 1/one millionth of a meter). When we’re finished, we can look around and feel confident that we have removed particles. And we probably have, but only the large ones. To protect our customers’ health, we must remove particles of all sizes, especially small ones of 10um and less.  They are too small to be seen by the eye alone. Small articles call for our best efforts and equipment. Not only are they hard to manage and capture, but they also tend to accumulate over time,” (109). 

How could IAQ measures impact the way we clean?

Because cleaning is inextricably tied to the quality of the indoor air, it’s probably a safe bet to assume that changes are coming to the way you clean if you’re not cleaning for health. 

Here are just a few ways that cleaning can have a negative impact on our health: 

  • Leaving behind cleaning chemical residue
  • Improperly diluting or mixing cleaning chemicals
  • Improper maintenance of cleaning equipment (e.g. not replacing vacuum filters on a regular basis)
  • Not using the right cleaning equipment for the job 
  • Not monitoring temperature, moisture or ventilation when cleaning
  • Improper disposal of waste (in solid, liquid or gas forms)
  • Lack of cleaning frequency
  • Absence of training
  • Ineffective cleaning processes

As Joseph Allen and John Macomber suggest in their book, “Healthy Buildings: How Indoor Spaces Drive Performance and Productivity,” cleaning equipment, such as a vacuum, is a healthcare tool.

“If you think of a several hundred dollar vacuum as a tool to clean your kids’ Cheerios off the floor, that seems exorbitant. But if you reframe that vacuum as a tool to protect you and your kids from chemicals and allergens in the dust, well that investment in a good vacuum now looks cheap. And it is. No one in their right mind should be spending a few hundred bucks for a sexy vacuum, but everyone should be spending that much for a vacuum that keeps your home or office healthier” (109).  

So, what are the processes, tools and equipment being used to clean your building? Are you cleaning for health or appearance? 

If you’re thinking about making a change, give us a call! We can put you in contact with one of the members of the Simon Institute who can speak to how cleaning for health has transformed their facilities.

You Should Start Preparing for the Next Pandemic Now

Throughout the pandemic, our news feeds were inundated with headlines and articles telling tales of cleaning workers were on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic, many of whom were ill-equipped for the task.

Custodians were “nervous as hell,” said one headline. 

“No Bleach, Dirty Rags: How Some Janitors Are Asked to Keep You Virus-Free” told the story of cleaners who were required to provide their own personal protective equipment (PPE) and products. 

In “What About the Workers Cleaning Up Coronavirus?” a reporter wrote, “…some [cleaners] say they aren’t being provided with adequate training or personal protective equipment.”

Experts have indicated that another pandemic is not far away. Take the learnings from this past year and apply them to your pandemic plan. This helps ensure your team is trained and you have the proper tools and equipment should another pandemic occur.

The pandemic exposed what many of us in the cleaning industry already knew: That way too many people (and frankly, often first generation immigrants) are tasked with the job of cleaning and given little to no training to perform the job. 

We give many of these workers keys to our workplaces. Why can’t we give them keys to protecting both their own health and safety — and ours?

Little Training Can Lead to Big Problems

What we know: Fomites are not the primary source of transmission for SARS-COv-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Rather, according to the CDC, the virus primarily spreads through respiratory droplets and by airborne transmission. 

But we didn’t know this at the beginning of the pandemic, and that new knowledge doesn’t change the fact that many custodial operations were caught off guard. From cleaning product and PPE shortages to a fundamental lack of understanding around the differences between cleaning and disinfection, custodial teams weren’t prepared. 

But unfortunately, this pandemic won’t be the last. As a recent article in National Geographic starkly reported, “Scientists say it’s only a matter of time before another deadly virus jumps from animal to human and goes viral.”

We never like to say, “We told you so,” but… 

Pandemic planning has been a core focus for (OS1) teams for several years. Rather than reacting to a pandemic, our founder, John Walker, believed that all cleaning operations should be prepared to follow a series of steps should a pandemic outbreak occur. 

This plan was tested with the recent pandemic, and if you listened to any of the Cleaning Conversations episodes, you heard from many (OS1) teams who 1) Were prepared to keep indoor environments clean during the coronavirus pandemic and 2) Felt equipped to communicate and educate stakeholders on the actions they were taking to keep building occupants safe.

So, what should your plan include?*

In preparing for another pandemic event, what are some of the core things a custodial professional should consider?

  1. A list of surfaces throughout your building
  2. A list of products/quantities you should add to your inventory, including chemicals and PPE
  3. Specialized worker training on use of chemicals and personal protection
  4. Charts and training resources for new cleaning workers 
  5. Websites for federal and local health agencies to stay updated on the latest guidance and information related to the pandemic
  6. Ongoing training logs to ensure workers understand the plan and are ready to enact it in the event of a pandemic.

If you want to make sure your custodial team is prepared for the next pandemic, you need to start planning now. If they are willing to step up and protect our buildings, we owe it to them to make sure they are equipped with the right PPE and training to do so. 

* This list is intended to provide your organization with a starting point for your planning.

What Makes a School Dirty?

Should we care about dirty schools? Well, the short answer is yes, but probably not for the reasons you think. While visible dirt may keep students and staff from feeling positive about their environment (known as topophilia), a growing body of evidence has found that dirty schools may pose larger challenges— resulting in things like lower test scores and increased absenteeism. 

This is an issue in normal times, but an even greater problem coming out of a pandemic. With a considerable number of children having lost valuable learning time, schools need every edge they can get to keep students engaged and performing.  

There are almost 130,000 K-12 schools in the U.S. and little oversight over how they are cleaned. In many schools, public and private, you’ll find vacuum cleaners that belch out dust, custodial closets that showcase a host of expired and outdated products, and custodians that wear a wide variety of hats—they do everything from keeping external walkways clean to vacuuming classrooms to stewarding after school events. 

As any parent, aunt, uncle or teacher knows, kids can be dirty. Really dirty. And within our public schools alone, there are more 50.6 million students, based on federal projections for the fall of 2021. 

In the effort to provide students with a safe and clean learning environment, what other factors should educators identify for that might contribute to a dirty school? 

  1. Poor maintenance of cleaning equipment. You have to clean your cleaning equipment. Replacing vacuum filters, regularly laundering microfiber or other cleaning cloths, cleaning out mop buckets are all preventative maintenance strategies that help make for cleaner schools and longer lasting equipment. 
  2. Cross contamination between areas. Most schools have kitchens, restrooms and classrooms. When the systems aren’t in place to prevent movement of cleaning tools and equipment between areas, the same cleaning cloth might be used to clean a restroom sink, kitchen counter and/or a desk. 
  3. Underestimating cleaning frequencies. In a recent study that analyzed microbes on desks in three Connecticut schools, researchers took samples and examined how cleaning impacted surface microbial concentrations. Study authors concluded, “Current school surface cleaning protocols and cycles may be ineffective at reducing student exposure to fungal allergens and microbes of human origin.”
  4. Limited training for custodial workers. In many school custodial, training encompasses a few days (or hours) of following someone around to learn the job. Very few cleaning operations have a comprehensive training program in place that not only teaches employees HOW to clean, but WHY they clean. Training should not only provide workers with the overall understanding of why their jobs are critical and how cleaning impacts the health of people in the buildings they clean, but also protocols for how and when to perform specific cleaning tasks.
  5. The absence of cleaning systems. Cleaning isn’t about pushing dirt around, it’s about removing dirt and unwanted substances from the environment. And without the proper cleaning systems in place (e.g. moving from the top of the room to the bottom, disinfecting without cleaning), there’s a good chance custodians in your buildings are just moving dirt from one place to the next. 

The pandemic has changed the way so many look at cleaning, and this is increasingly true in our nation’s school systems. How we clean and maintain our schools has a direct impact on our students. As organizations look to utilize federal funding through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 and other funding resources designated to help schools successfully reopen, it’s a great opportunity to examine the equipment, processes and training used by custodial workers.

Successfully managing a school environment is a necessary educational investment. But it’s one that pays off.

Learn more about how you can work to clean up your school in this post:  Why Dirty Schools are a Big Problem—and What We Can Do to Clean Them Up  https://managemen.com/why-dirty-schools-are-a-big-problem-and-what-we-can-do-to-clean-them-up/

Picture with green background and person standing at a podium with text reading "evangelists for clean."

Evangelists for Clean

A colleague recently shared an article from EdWeek titled, “How Much COVID-19 Cleaning in Schools is Too Much?” In the article, the author discusses how COVID-19 has led to an increase in cleaning and disinfection activity in schools (no surprise) and the subsequent impact of that “cleaning” (or disinfection, more appropriately).

Pointing to a study that showed an increase in asthma attacks with “cleaning” in homes, the author suggests that we should “avoid overdoing cleaning” in schools to limit the potential health impact on students because COVID isn’t primarily spread through surfaces. 

Ugh. As we all know, you can’t “overdo” cleaning. You can overdo disinfection, but that’s another topic we addressed early in the pandemic in this post

The thing I want to draw your attention to is that the EdWeek website draws 1.5 million visitors a month. It is a primary resource for educators across the country. And sadly, this isn’t the only journalist who gets it wrong.  

It’s been a year since our lives were flipped upside down by the pandemic, and there hasn’t been a day that’s passed when I’ve read something in the news or watched a commentator on TV get something wrong about cleaning. Many of you have likely experienced the same—it started with the images of spacesuit-clad disinfectant warriors and has continued through today with articles around hygiene theater. 

Friends, our work must begin now. As professionals in this industry, we must work to educate others about the critical differences between cleaning, sanitizing and disinfecting. We must help them understand the importance of cleaning on our health. This starts in conversations with our neighbors and continues when we read or watch something on the news about cleaning. When a journalist gets it wrong, like in the article mentioned above, take a few minutes to drop them a note and let them know that cleaning and disinfection aren’t one and the same. 

We’ve talked a lot about how cleaning has taken center stage throughout the pandemic, but sadly, people still don’t understand it. By evangelizing our work, we will help clarify these misconceptions and further professionalize this industry that we’ve all grown to love. 

Your pal, 
Ben


P.S. Feel free to drop Ms. Sparks a note. I know I will. 

blue box with text reading "want to work for an os1 organization?

Want to Work for an (OS1) Team?

Why work for any custodial operation when you can work for an (OS1) team? Recently, we’ve heard stories of custodial workers moving across the country just so they can work for an (OS1) facility. Why? Because it gives them the assurance that the program values their work, has the systems in place to ensure a balanced workload and is committed to excellence.

Here are several great positions in (OS1) organizations currently available:

Michigan State University

Service Manager II

Working Hours: Monday – Friday 4:00 PM -1:00 AM

Posting open 03/10/2021 – 3/23/2021

This position will support the departmental mission by providing high performance training and staffing services for a team of over 400 administrative and craft professionals who serve over 13 million square feet of space in 110 buildings. This position will directly supervise the second/third shift office assistant. This position will coordinate, facilitate and maintain accurate records for all safety, skills, on boarding as well as any mandated training. This position will be the primary staffing contact for recruitment and processing of student and On-Call staffing. This position will engage in high performing, leading edge practices, valuing people, partners and stewardship. At IPF, we are committed to fostering an equitable, inclusive culture; engaging and hiring a diverse workforce.

Operations Supervisor I

Working Hours: Sunday-Thursday 9:30pm-6:30am

Posting open 03/10/2021 – 3/23/2021

This position coordinates and oversees the activities of the custodial staff in a group of campus buildings; trains and evaluates employees; plans staffing and time schedules; enforces departmental and University rules; resolves employee complaints and grievances; prepares forms and records to maintain working inventory; responds to emergencies, inquiries, and complaints from faculty, students, tenants, and the public; inspects and assesses problems, damage, and condition of buildings to facilitate repair and maintain safety standards. This position will engage in high performing, leading edge practices, valuing people, partners and stewardship. At IPF, we are committed to fostering an equitable, inclusive culture; engaging and hiring a diverse workforce.

To apply for these positions go to careers.msu.edu.

University of Texas at Austin

Building Attendant Leader second shift 5:00 pm to 2:00 am.

Job Description:

Schedules and coordinates the work of groups of cleaning workers using standardized practices set by the University. Advises them of special assignments or changes in work routine.

—-

Job Details:

General Notes

Hiring decision contingent upon applicant clearing a background check.

Responsibilities

  • Work in all University buildings. Schedule and coordinate the work of groups of cleaning workers using standardized procedures. Advise them of special assignments or changes in work routine.
  • Inspect and document cleanliness of university facilities and individuals’ work performance. Manage performance through observations, inspection, and communication of goals and standards. Evaluate, direct, and discipline employees.
  • Process and review time reports, inspection reports, absence documentation, supply order forms, performance records, performance evaluations, and periodic project reports.
  • Conduct training and ensure compliance with safety and operational procedures. Conduct meetings with staff. Promote and follow safety guidelines and maintain safe working conditions. Report safety problems to the Building Services Supervisor.
  • Receive and handle special requests and complaints. Keep supervisors informed. Effectively communicate with supervisors, clients, and employees using a variety of methods.
  • Direct quarterly rotation of, and training for, specific duties, including: Restroom Specialist, Light Duty Specialist, Vacuum Specialist, and Utility Specialist.
  • Attend and actively participate in training. Perform blood-borne pathogen cleanup. Responsible for equipment inventory and ensuring equipment security.
  • Responsible for security and organization of University keys, access cards, and alarm codes. Ensure all applicable exterior and interior doors are secured and alarms are set according to schedule.

Required Qualifications

Required education: high school diploma or GED. Experience following basic work instructions. Two years of experience in any one of the following fields: custodial, environmental services, hospitality, warehouse, production, or facilities services. Experience in a supervisory capacity. The ability to read and understand work orders, instructions, product labels, product directions, and other written job materials. Ability to understand and follow verbal and written instructions. Good communication skills, interpersonal skills, and customer service skills. Basic computer skills. Ability to write simple correspondence and fill out standard forms. Ability to work according to standardized processes. Stable work history. Strong attendance record. Must have a reliable means of communicating with the department outside of work by phone.

Relevant education and experience may be substituted as appropriate.

Preferred Qualifications

Preferred education: associate degree or bachelor’s degree. Experience supervising custodians in an (OS1) cleaning environment. More than one year supervisory experience. Excellent communication skills, interpersonal skills, and customer service skills. Advanced writing skills. Working knowledge of safety and sanitation measures appropriate for custodial work. Basic computer skills. Successful completion of the advanced OS-1 Comprehensive Certification Program.

Salary Range

$31,536.00 ($2,628.00 monthly)

Click here to apply: https://utaustin.wd1.myworkdayjobs.com/en-US/UTstaff/job/UT-MAIN-CAMPUS/Building-Attendant-Leader—Night_R_00011624

Texas Tech University

21087BR – Senior Lead Custodian (9PM-5AM) Library

21218BR – Custodian $11/hr (430PM-1AM)

21982BR – Custodian $11/hr (430PM-1AM)

21977BR – Custodian $11/hr (430PM-1AM)

21980BR – Custodian $11/hr (430PM-1AM)

22807BR – Custodian $11/hr (430PM-1AM)

22946BR – Day Custodian $11/hr (8AM-5PM)

Coming Soon:

Night Supervisor (430PM-1AM)

Please email James at james.peel@ttu.edu if you are interested in learning more about any of the positions listed!

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

UNC is looking for 2 Housekeeping Zone Managers.  Great Pay with shift differential and Carolina Blue skies.  Come give us a try at www.unc.edu!

Zone Manager

Posting Information

Position TypePermanent Staff (SHRA)
Is this an internal only recruitment?No
Position TitleBldg & Env Services Supervisor – Advanced
Working TitleZone Manager
Position Number57398
Vacancy IDP012439
Budgeted Hiring Range$45,000 – $47,268
Pay Band Information
Salary Grade EquivalentGN06
Full-time/Part-time Permanent/Time-LimitedFull-Time Permanent
If time-limited, estimated duration of appointment
Hours per week40
Work ScheduleM-F, 4:00 PM – 12:30 AM
Department Name and NumberFS-Housekeeping Svcs-Zone 08-242008
Date First Posted03/04/2021
Closing Date03/15/2021
Position LocationChapel Hill, NC
Position Posting CategoryHousekeeping and General Services
Department DescriptionHousekeeping Services is comprised of a staff of more than 400 employees who provide cleaning service and floor care to over 40,000 campus customers in the maintenance and operation of the University’s 8 million plus sq. ft. across approximately 250 teaching, research, medical, administrative, residential, athletic and library buildings. Housekeeping Services is committed to fostering a culture of civility and respect for its diverse workforce as part of its commitment to being a leading building and environment services organization within a leading public institution.
Equal Opportunity EmployerThe University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is an equal opportunity and affirmative action employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to age, color, disability, gender, gender expression, gender identity, genetic information, race, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, or status as a protected veteran.
Position DescriptionThe Zone Manager is one of 20-25 supervisors who organize and manage the daily cleaning operation of 10-30 subordinates for a group of University buildings, which on average encompass a total cleaning area of 500,000 square feet, including but not limited to offices, lounges, restrooms, student housing, classrooms, laboratories, entrances, exits, and stairways. Each Zone Manager’s assigned area may require additional specific knowledge and experience. These may include expertise in housing and residential student facilities in a campus setting, including management of summer turns; research, laboratory, and medical settings, including contamination containment and disposal of hazardous waste and related health and safety regulations; academic and administrative settings, including classrooms, offices, and historically-valuable facilities and holdings; and special event facilities, including athletic, academic and campus-related community events.
Minimum Education and Experience RequirementsHigh school diploma or equivalency and one year of experience in the area of assignment; or equivalent combination of training and experience. Some positions may require certification or eligibility for certification.
Essential Skills, Knowledge and AbilitiesRequires demonstrated ability to communicate clearly and effectively both orally and in writing concerning work assignments, work performance and adherence to workplace policies, as well as perform quality inspections of employee work. Must be proficient in scheduling and planning. The successful candidate will have the ability to supervise a large, diverse work unit in a fast pace environment. Must have working knowledge of proper cleaning techniques and safety requirements in order to train Housekeepers in these areas. Must have ability to read and interpret Safety Data Sheets. The applicant must be able to organize work assignments and work schedules, manage the supply inventory for the group, and operate within available supply limits. The Zone Manager is the primary contact with the group’s University customers (faculty, staff, students, and visitors) and must be committed to outstanding customer service and be able to communicate effectively and positively with these clients orally and in writing. Must be knowledgeable of federal personnel policies and management practices appropriate to a high-functioning workforce. Functional ability in Microsoft Office or similar suite of programs (word processing, spreadsheet, presentation, email, calendaring). This position is designated as a mandatory employee and is required to report to work in the the event of a public health emergency. This position is designated as an adverse weather emergency position and the employee is subject to being placed on-call and is required to report to work in the event of an adverse weather emergency. Must be able to serve on-call duty on a rotating basis for weekends and holidays several times a year. Must have ability to work a flexible work schedule based on department needs, which sometimes requires work on the weekend; for example, training, inclement weather, exam week, graduation, student move-in/move-out, and flexing work schedule as requested by customer’s cleaning needs in buildings such as residence halls, science/medical; in addition, flexing work schedule as requested by customer’s cleaning needs for sporting events, labs and exam schedule, which sometimes requires work in the morning, afternoon, evening and weekend.
Preferred QualificationsThe preferred candidate will have five years supervisory experience, to include at least one year of supervisory experience in institutional housekeeping, preferably in an academic or medical/research environment. Experience applying Federal and State OSHA standards and personnel policies preferred, as well as experience in appropriately applying North Carolina employment policies in managing State workers. Experience in collegiate residential housing housekeeping, including experience in scheduling and completing residential rooms and apartment turnover for summer camps and graduation in a fast pace environment is preferred for positions in the housing area. The preferred candidate will also have knowledge and skills in team cleaning processes. Preferred candidate will have experience in cleaning research, laboratory, and medical settings, including contamination containment and disposal of hazardous waste and related health and safety regulations; Experience in academic and administrative settings, including classrooms, offices, and historically-valuable facilities and holdings; Experience in special event settings, including athletic, academic and large-crowd community events.
Required Licenses/CertificationsMust possess a valid NC Driver’s license or the ability to obtain one.
Special Physical and Mental RequirementsWork is routine and repetitive in nature and may require strenuous physical exertion. Applicants must be able to lift/move objects weighing up to 50 lbs., and climb stairs. Employees are required to adhere to safety requirements by wearing the appropriate personal protective equipment.
Position/Schedule RequirementsEvening work, Exposure to Bloodborne Pathogens, Exposure to Hazardous Materials, Night work occasionally, Non-Healthcare TB exposure, On-call occasionally, Overtime occasionally, Rotating shifts occasionally, Valid NC Driver’s License, Weekend work occasionally
Position Attributes
Stimulus/ARRA FundedNo




Applicant Documents

Required Documents

  1. Curriculum Vitae / Resume
  2. List of References

Optional Documents

  1. Cover Letter

Posting Supplemental Questions

Required fields are indicated with an asterisk (*).

  1. * Please select the response below that best describes your experience/education for the Building Environmental Services Supervisor position.
    • High school diploma/GED, Associate’s, Bachelor’s, Master’s, or Doctorate and at least one year of experience in related field.
    • Combination of post high school education and/or experience in related field to equal at least 1 year
    • Did not complete high school but have a combination of high school education and related experience to equal 5 years (ex. 3 years of high school and 2 years experience)
    • None of the above
  2. * Mandatory employees are employees whose presence is required to ensure that essential University operations continue without interruption during adverse weather or emergency events, including a public health emergency. Mandatory and Communicable Disease Mandatory Employees are expected to report to work or remain on the job, and if deemed necessary by their supervisor, to work a differing schedule or shift than normally assigned. Do you have the ability to serve as a mandatory or communicable disease mandatory employee and report to work in support of essential (mandatory) University operations, even under conditions that may require the University to close?
  1. Yes
  2. No
  3. * Please describe your supervisory experience.

(Open Ended Question)

  1. * Do you currently have a valid North Carolina Driver’s License or the ability to obtain a valid North Carolina Driver’s License by your potential start date?
  1. Yes
  2. No
  3. * How many years of Institutional cleaning (university or medical setting) do you have?
  1. 0-5 months
  2. 6-12 months
  3. 1-2 years
  4. 3+ years
  5. Please describe any team cleaning housekeeping experience you have.

(Open Ended Question)

Mt San Antonio College is currently recruiting for Lead Custodian, and Custodian I. Applications are still being accepted for both positions despite the initial screening date posted. Both positions can be located via the link below or via indeed.com.

https://hrjobs.mtsac.edu/postings/7975

picture of a mop with the text is there a right way to clean?

Is There a Right Way to Clean?

In 1971, Coke produced the “Hilltop” television commercial. Even if you weren’t alive then, you have likely heard the jingle sung by a group of teenagers singing looking like Julie Andrews in the mountains during Sound of Music. 

“I’d like to teach the world to sing, in perfect harmony.”

With troops still in Vietnam, the message was of inspiration and hope, intended to unite people everywhere… with a Coke. 

A similar environment exists right now as we start to emerge from the pandemic. Things have been divisive, but one thing that unites us all is that in some form, pretty much everyone cleans. In fact, we’ve cleaned more in the past 12 months than we ever have. And it’s anticipated that this will continue for the foreseeable future. 

But are you cleaning the right way? Is there a “right way” to clean? You just spray and wipe, right? Run the vacuum. If it looks clean, it must be clean, right?

Unless you’re in the cleaning industry, there’s a good chance you don’t know:

  1. You should always clean from top to bottom.
  2. Most disinfectants require the first step of cleaning and an established dwell time in order to work effectively.
  3. You should maintain different cleaning tools for different areas of your home or building.

This might not seem like a big deal, but when you have a bunch of people cleaning and not using cleaning products improperly, we run into issues with indoor air quality, chemical accidents, cross contamination, and more.  

“I’d like to teach the world to clean, in perfect harmony…”

Picture this scenario…

Short on staff, a housekeeping manager asks Jim, who just arrived for his first day on the job, to start cleaning rooms. She shows Jim the supply cart and gives him a list of tasks he needs to complete in each room.  

Jim enters the first room and removes the sheets from the bed. Next, he vacuums the floors and wipes down surfaces throughout the room—the nightstands, desktops, switches and door handles. Spotting a cobweb near the ceiling, he removes it with an extension wand, also dusting the top of the armoire. 

Jim walks into the restroom next and sprays the faucet, toilet and shower with disinfectant spray, immediately wiping them all down with the same cloth used in the main room. After cleaning the toilet, he mops the floors and leaves, repeating the process in the next room.

What’s wrong with this scene?

You’ve got to give Jim some credit. He followed the instructions he was given, but in this scenario, Jim isn’t cleaning. He’s pushing dirt around, and with it, he’s likely moving dirt, bacteria and likely viruses around too. 

As we mentioned earlier, this can cause a host of issues—within a home, a hotel, a hospital—any indoor environment of any size.

Yes, there is a right way to clean. And the better the protocols and systems you have in place—and the training that supports those protocols and systems—the cleaner and healthier your indoor spaces will be.

A moment to pause and reflect…

For most of this, this past year has felt a lot like we’ve been treading water in the middle of a huge lake. But finally, we can see a boat coming toward us to offer a break. As we get a moment to pause, it’s important to reflect on what went right during the pandemic. What can we improve?

COVID-19 has forced us to acknowledge the importance of cleaning in our indoor environments. It’s a pathogen that can be spread through hard surfaces, and it isn’t the last pathogen that will spread this way. In fact, there’s a good chance that we’ll face another pathogen that has even greater transmissibility via fomites in the not-so-distant future. 

Look around your house, your children’s schools, the hotels and stores you visit. Are they being cleaned properly, or are people just pushing dirt around? Have workers received training and do they understand that you should work from top to bottom when cleaning a room? Do they understand that you can’t just spray a disinfectant and wipe it with the same cloth you’ve used to clean the rest of the building?

There’s a science to cleaning, and it’s important we follow that science to keep our indoor environments safe and healthy for everyone. 

“I’d like to teach the world to clean, in perfect harmony.”

The Power of the (OS1) Community


During a “normal” year, my schedule would start to fill around February. I’d plan trips to many of your campuses and facilities, excited to conduct audits, catch up with you and your teams, talk about what’s new at the office and in the industry.

But… we’re still not at normal yet. While I’m starting to plan travel for this summer, it’s all tentative. Sure, the vaccine is on the way and there’s a good chance that we’ll regain *some* form of normalcy in the next six months, we have no idea exactly what that will look like. Further blurring that picture is the fact that the virus continues to mutate and evolve. No one can say for certain how will that impact immunizations and transmission? 

But that’s not stopping us. We’re embracing the uncertainty and focusing on what is certain: YOU. The (OS1) community is the foundation of what makes this cleaning system so effective. So, from the newly reconstituted Simon Institute to the Cleaning Industry Trainer’s Guild, you are all working so hard to organize communication and empower (OS1) users everywhere.

You won’t find another community like ours. We share. We network. We build relationships and trust. And most importantly, we’re dedicated to excellence in everything we do. 

Helen Keller once said, “Alone, we can do so little; together, we can do so much.” 

As we’ve said all along, the pandemic has thrust cleaning and public health into the spotlight. People everywhere want better cleaning programs that effectively remove dirt from buildings and protect their health. We have a powerful message, and it’s time for our community to work together to share it. 

Your pal, 
Ben

Want to learn more about (OS1) and our community of users known as the Simon Institute? Drop me a line at ben at managemen.com—I’d love to tell you more about it.


P.S. Follow me on Twitter at @BenWalkerClean

If We Want Cleaner Buildings, We Need to Start Respecting Cleaning Workers

As of Jan. 30, it’s been exactly one year since the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 outbreak a global health emergency. At that point, we didn’t know much about the virus. No one had any idea how drastically their lives would change less than two months later.

From the start, the CDC has maintained that coronavirus can spread by respiratory droplets which can be inhaled, deposited on surfaces and objects and transferred by touch, or through airborne particles or aerosol transmission. While research has shown that transmission through hard surfaces isn’t as likely as previously thought, the potential for contamination has pushed many cleaning workers to the frontlines of the battle against COVID-19.

On March 18, a Bloomberg article asked “What about the Workers Cleaning Up Coronavirus?” Journalists shared Lilliana’s story, a day porter for a BSC who who was concerned about the lack of PPE and potential exposure to the virus. 

A BBC article asked, “Coronavirus: Are hospital cleaners forgotten heroes in this crisis?”

Journalist Marianna Brady writes, “Cleanliness and hygiene has never seemed of greater concern than it is now. So should the people making sure hospitals are free of germs be getting more of a voice?”

Yet as many worked in potentially risky situations to keep buildings, others lost their jobs. From housekeepers in hotels, resorts and schools to cleaners like Lilliana who cleaned commercial office buildings, when people stayed home, many cleaners lost. Nowhere is this more apparent than in Hawaii, where a report by the American Hotel and Lodging Association revealed that Hawaiian hotels would remain below 50 percent occupancy through 2021. 

Cleaner Buildings Starts with Respect

We’ve talked about showing appreciation for cleaning workers and elevating their visibility and profile throughout business operations, long before the pandemic hit. It’s the primary focus of our business—we believe all custodial workers should be treated like first-class citizens. This means providing training, living wages, opportunities for advancement, and most of all, decency and respect, for the people who clean our buildings. 

Sadly, despite all that custodians have given during the pandemic, we haven’t seen where that’s equated into more opportunity and respect. 

In a recent editorial for The Colorado Sun, Fátima Alhexia Boylen, founder and president of Boylen Cleaning Services in Denver, described a situation at a local grocery where employees were taunting a man who swept the grocery aisles. 

“Disrespect and invisibility is not something anyone should have to get used to. But sadly, for cleaning workers, it’s everywhere,” she writes.

Boylen’s experiences in the poor treatment of cleaning workers were reaffirmed by a recent study of environmental service workers (ESWs) in hospitals published in the American Journal of Infection Control. Lack of training and other barriers, including “low status” and lack of communication were listed as primary reasons why workers felt they provided little value to the organizations where they worked.

Study authors note that this lack of structure and poor treatment of ESWs can lead to the risk of infection. 

“To sustain improvements in disinfection practices, education/training sessions need to be continuous,” the study states. “The long-term commitment of an organization is also essential for continuous improvement in disinfection outcomes. While knowledge transfer is critical for behavior change, education/training also needs to focus on the skills and perceptions of ESWs.”

Jane Walker, a cleaner at a major pharmaceutical company, recently spoke to a journalist about the low morale of the cleaning team since the start of the pandemic. 

“The lowest of the low. I’ve never seen team morale like this. People call out [sick] all the time and their excuses are for the team, not management. But the whole team just doesn’t wanna be there. It’s funny man, we all say, “You don’t have to be here.”

A Better Clean for Us All

The pandemic will impact several facets of office life, with a demand for cleaner environments high on improvements. 

Mike DiBlasi, a managing director for CBRE in Tampa told a local reporter, “From better ventilation to greener cleaning procedures, everything’s on the table. A lot of the bigger landlords have already started implementing ways to provide a more sanitary and cleaner environment.”

But if we want cleaner workplaces, we need to start doing something about the way cleaning workers are treated. This starts with all of us.  

As research Zach Mercurio so eloquently shares in his editorial, “It’s Time to Stop Dehumanizing Frontline Workers”:

People in stigmatized jobs are part of your routine, their invisibility a byproduct of both their indispensability and good work doing the things most of us have the luxury of forgetting about, the work that enables us to live.

They comprise the workforces of the companies we love. They ensure safe roads to drive on, ship our Amazon packages, clean our doctor’s offices, ready our hotel rooms, decontaminate our drinking water, and dispose of our trash.

As individuals, organizations, and society, we should thank them, but above all, we should respect and revere them and their important occupations.

Join us for “DIY Workloading,” our next online mini-course class, next week!

“How long should it take a cleaning worker to vacuum the floors in a 1,000 square foot room?”

“How many custodians do I need to clean a new building?”

“How can I balance the workload to make sure that everyone has an equitable set of tasks?”

These are just a few of the common questions custodial managers have as they configure (or reconfigure) workloads within their buildings.

If you’re looking for tools that will help you develop meaningful data to workload to teams, you won’t want to miss our next Online Mini-Course, “Introduction to DIY Workloading” on Jan. 28, 2021, at 11 a.m. MST. 

This course is for supervisors and managers in cleaning organizations and is designed to provide a simplified, basic understanding of Workloading as it relates to Team Cleaning. After completing the course, you will be able to determine how long it will take you to perform a cleaning activity, including steps, variables and task times. If you follow a team cleaning format or are exploring how a team cleaning system might benefit your operation, this is the course for you. 

During this hour-long training course, you will learn:

  • How cleaning tasks and times can form the foundation of your custodial program.
  • How times and frequencies are developed.
  • How Team Cleaning standardizes the workload.

The tuition for this mini-course is $45.00. This includes 45 minutes of instruction by Ben Walker and 15 minutes Q&A period. All participants will receive an E-book version of 99 Workloading Times a DIY Workloading Times Guide by John Walker ($21.95 value). 

About the Speaker: 

Ben Walker is the Chief Strategy Officer for ManageMen. In addition to his consulting work, Walker compiled the data for 612 Cleaning Times and Tasks. Ben Walker performs progress and baseline audits for large cleaning operations. He has experience auditing the cleaning program for hundreds of buildings nationwide.

He specializes in the (OS1) cleaning process, safety, green, source reduction, public relations, training, and cleaning education. ManageMen’s clients include Sandia National Labs, The University of Texas at Austin, Texas Tech University, Kansas State University, Valparaiso University, Provo City School District, Michigan State University, The University of Michigan, Los Angeles Habilitation House (LAHH), US Postal Service, and GMI Building Services.