Long before COVID-19 infected patient zero, a large percentage of the 3.25 million cleaning workers in the U.S. received little job training. In some circles, the assumption is that most people know how to clean, so the absence of training might not seem like a big deal. Individuals in these groups treat it as an inherent skillset that people are either born with or learn at an early age.
But the thing is, not everyone just “knows” how to clean. As a recent survey showed, the majority of Americans aren’t disinfecting properly. And the processes you would use to clean a building are different than how you would clean your home or apartment.
There are many issues with the lack of occupational training in the cleaning industry, but a primary issues is the increased risk and exposure to workers. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that cleaning workers suffer the second highest rates of job-related injuries of any occupation—injuries heavy lifting, overexertion, chemical exposure and slips and falls are most common.
Reducing Risks to Cleaning Workers Now and After the Pandemic
When it comes to COVID-19, cleaning and disinfection is essential in stopping the spread of the disease. Aside from person-to-person spread, COVID-19 spreads when a person comes into contact with contaminated surfaces or objects. So when businesses slowly begin to open again over the next few months, all eyes will be on cleaning workers. Regular, systematic cleaning and disinfection will be key to controlling the spread of the virus and limiting the additional waves of the pandemic.
For these individuals to clean—and to not pollute the surfaces and buildings they are meant to protect—they need training. They also need training to protect themselves.
During this period, we can expect to see a swell of new cleaning service providers. Many people who have been displaced from current jobs in the hospitality or foodservice industries may find themselves working in a position where they’re being asked to clean in a commercial environment for the first time.
We’ve seen way too many headlines highlighting cleaning workers who are concerned because they don’t understand the routes of transmission or how they could become infected. Too many people who are asked to use new disinfectants and don’t have training to do so. Too many people who aren’t equipped with the right personal protective equipment (PPE) to protect their hands and faces from exposure.
We need to reverse this trend and make sure ALL cleaning workers have the knowledge and training they need to clean safely and protect themselves.
If you’re new to cleaning, we’ve pulled together a checklist of things you should know before you start working.
This is not meant to replace any existing training programs, but rather serve as a supplement. Our hope is to help provide a resource for those individuals who may not receive any training from their employers. If that’s you, we’re here for you. Please feel free to reach out with any questions about what you can do to protect yourself during this time.
https://managemen.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/What-Cleaning-Workers-Need-to-Know.png800800Andi Curryhttps://managemen.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/MMLogoRev800.pngAndi Curry2020-04-01 20:17:292020-04-01 20:17:32Protecting Custodial Workers: What Every New Cleaning Worker Needs to Know
Right now, cleaning and disinfection is a focus for people around the world because of the coronavirus. For people in our industry, this is somewhat of a seminal moment — we’ve arrived at a place where there’s greater appreciation and understanding for the importance of the work we do. Of course, we wish it didn’t take something like a pandemic happening to get here, but we’re thrilled to see that the message is being heard.
When we get to the other side of this, there’s little question that the world of cleaning will change. Already, Singapore is implementing mandatory cleaning standards, beginning with “higher-risk premises such as childcare and eldercare facilities, schools and hawker centers [food courts and markets], according to Channel News Asia.
Combined with social distancing, cleaning is the next most effective way to control coronavirus.
The thing is, cleaning needs to be done correctly, or else it’s not effective.
In the future, we can expect government standards around this to ensure cleaning is done properly. For now, it’s left to each cleaning professional and organizations to make sure they’re following best practices.
Here’s what we know (with some great links to help explain things!):
The coronavirus spreads by hard surfaces or fomites. The most recent research found that it lasts on hard surfaces such as stainless steel for up to two-three days.
Cleaning workers form a critical line of defense in helping to stop the chain of infection, killing the virus on the surface before it has the opportunity to jump to the next host/hosts.
Personal protective equipment (PPE) is essential to protecting cleaning workers. Follow guidelines from the CDC, which includes using gloves and gowns and understanding how to don (put on), use and doff (take off) PPE.
OSHA requires training for all workers who use cleaning chemicals and disinfectants. All organizations should maintain Safety Data Sheets on ALL cleaning chemicals used in their facilities.
Not all “cleaning” kills coronavirus. It’s critical that people understand the difference between cleaning, sanitizing and disinfection, explained in full here.
Remember, clean first — then disinfect. A disinfectant will never work on a visibly dirty surface. Clean using a cotton or microfiber cloth—never a paper-based product.
Read the directions! Each EPA-approved disinfectant used for killing coronavirus indicates the dwell time, or the time the surface needs to remain visibly wet, in order to be effective.
Hand washing is everything. Make sure workers wash their hands before they begin cleaning and immediately after removing gloves.
We must work together. Encourage individuals throughout the facility to assist with cleaning and disinfection of frequently touched surfaces, including tables, doorknobs, light switches, handles, desks, toilets, faucets, sinks, per CDC recommendations.
Communication is key. Make sure to communicate what you’re doing with stakeholders in your buildings. Share images on social media to help people at home see how hard your facility is working to keep buildings clean for their return.
We’ll get through this; effective cleaning is essential in that effort. And when we do get to the other side, we hope there will be a much broader appreciation for the critical work that cleaners, janitors, housekeepers, environmental service workers and other cleaning professionals do in protecting the health of the public.
https://managemen.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/coronavirus-cleaning.png800800Andi Curryhttps://managemen.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/MMLogoRev800.pngAndi Curry2020-03-18 17:14:362020-03-18 17:14:39Cleaning in the Age of Coronavirus
As the coronavirus continues to dominate headlines, a lot of people have questions about best practices for cleaning and disinfection in public spaces. (OS1)® organizations have a Pandemic Plan in place to prepare for an outbreak of this nature, and are well equipped to handle additional cleaning loads.
To assist (OS1) teams with communicating their plans to key stakeholders and building occupants within their facilities, we’ve developed this sample communication which you can copy to send as an email or print to post in a public area.
Subject: Cleaning for Coronavirus
Dear [building occupant],
With the Coronavirus at the top of everyone’s minds right now, we wanted to brief you on the cleaning practices used within our facility and the pandemic preparedness plans we have in place. Most importantly, we want to reassure you that our organization uses best-in-class cleaning processes to stop the chain of infection and limit the opportunity for pathogens to spread throughout our building.
As you might know, our organization uses the (OS1)® System, which is a comprehensive, high-performance management system for custodial organizations. Each worker within our department has received extensive training and has been certified to complete specialized tasks within the system. They are kitted with special tools and chemicals for their job function, which includes the use of a germicidal cleaner in an outbreak situation.
As a part of our pandemic planning, we have completed or are in the process of completing the following steps to combat the Coronavirus within our facility/facilities:
Identified all potential routes of transmission.
Conduct a survey of all direct and indirect contact fomites (high-touch surface areas) throughout our buildings.
Provide custodial workers with additional training and instruction on proper disinfection protocols.
Provide custodial workers on Protect Yourself” training so they understand routes of transmission and how to best protect themselves when cleaning.
Stockpile additional cleaning and disinfection supplies.
It is important to note that at this point, the CDC has not recommended additional disinfection beyond routine cleaning. However, our teams are meeting on a regular basis and are prepared to increase cleaning frequencies when it is deemed appropriate.
We ask for your ongoing cooperation in this effort. Our staff is working diligently to keep high-touch areas cleaned and disinfected, but we encourage you to use wipes placed throughout the building to disinfect community surfaces when cleaning staff aren’t available.
We will continue to monitor the situation and update our cleaning protocols as necessary.
Again, thank you for your continued support and cooperation.
https://managemen.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Coronavirus-Communication-SOCIAL.png800800Andi Curryhttps://managemen.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/MMLogoRev800.pngAndi Curry2020-03-04 17:47:542020-03-04 18:14:00Coronavirus Communication: How to Tell Building Occupants, “We’ve Got This”
When you were a small kid, what did you want to be when you grew up? A race car driver? A doctor? A park ranger?
Did you have hopes of joining the millions of people in the professional cleaning industry?
Heck, ask most people in the cleaning industry how they ended up in it, and most will say they fell into it. They answered a job ad, took a second job to pay for a big expense or offered to help out a friend for a weekend.
Current figures suggest approximately 2.5 million people work as cleaners in the U.S., and that’s probably a conservative estimate. But a lot of the people who begin working in the industry quit shortly after they start.
This happens for a lot of reasons—reasons you already know.
It’s hard work.
It doesn’t pay much.
It gets little respect.
Another thing we know? We’d be totally screwed without cleaning workers. Cleaning is essential for any high-performing organization—and society.
And right now, we’re experiencing a big issue of attracting and retaining talent. In Facility Cleaning Decision’s2018 Reader Survey, staffing challenges were one of respondents’ top areas of concerns.
Historically low unemployment rates and stricter immigration policies are causing employers to look for alternative solutions, such as reducing frequencies and cross-training employees to cover labor shortages.
Changing Perceptions: It’s More than Just Dirty Work
Cleaning workers are an essential part of an organization. We know that, but in order to change the perceptions cleaning workers have of the work they do requires involvement from others within the organization.
A recent study looked at the social interactions of hospital cleaners and how those interactions impacted their perceived self worth. It looked at what researchers called “valuing acts” that cleaners experienced throughout the day and how those experiences made them feel.
Researchers stated, “A hospital’s effectiveness depends on the work of the cleaning staff…Those who clean hospitals ensure a safe and sanitary environment for the execution of routine and complicated medical procedures.” (p. 14)
So while the researchers recognized contribution of cleaners, they found their critical role wasn’t recognized by other people in the hospital.
Here’s what they found:
Many cleaners recognize the importance of their work and take “great pride” in it.
Their self worth is tied to social encounters they experience on the job — encounters with other people in the building, such as patients, nurses and doctors.
Simple acts, like a doctor or nurse getting out of the way when the cleaner is pushing a cart through the hallway or acknowledging their presence with a simple nod contributes to a cleaning worker feeling valued.
On the opposite side, acts like not cleaning up after themselves (e.g. not picking up paper that has fallen beside the waste basket or a spill for which they’re responsible) along with not involving them in a hospital wide event may contribute to the cleaners feeling unappreciated.
Ultimately, seemingly small gestures can leave a big impact on cleaning workers and can help them feel more valued—or devalued—within an organization.
How can we KEEP more cleaning workers?
Few people grow up wanting to be in the cleaning industry. The goal is to KEEP them in our industry once they get here.
How can you do this? 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 a 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.
Check it out!
The short film “Keepers of the House” aims to highlight the importance cleaning workers. Developed to educate others in a hospital about the vital role housekeeping/custodial workers play in developing an environment of care, the film will be used as a learning tool to help create better, stronger businesses.
Cleaning gets a bum rap. Just try googling quotes about cleaning and you’ll find that most of them portray cleaning—specifically, house cleaning— negatively.
“I hate housework. You make the beds, you wash the dishes and six months later you have to start all over again. – Joan Rivers
“Housework can’t kill you, but why take the chance?” – Phyllis Diller
“We dream of having a clean house—but who dreams of actually doing the cleaning?” -Marcus Buckingham
While a couple of these quotes hopefully made you laugh (just a little?), they still highlight the negative association of cleaning. It’s an association that follows cleaning wherever it goes—at home, in the office, on vacation… This is largely why the profession also gets swallowed in a negative stigma.
But for those of us who have made a career cleaning up, it’s important to remember why we clean. Sure, it’s a job, but the work performed has many benefits that extend beyond a paycheck. Cleaning is a service that benefits anyone and everyone who steps into the building.
Why We Clean
We recently ran across a list from Dr. Michael Berry, an evangelist of the critical importance of cleaning. In a presentation to the Simon Institute, he shared the following list of the tangible and intangible benefits of facility cleaning:
Reduces environmental risks
Creates a healthy condition
Provides living space
Breaks the transmission chain of infectious agents
Protects valuable materials
Maintains the value of real estate
Encourages “topophilia” or the love of place
Promotes human dignity
Shows you care
Projects a professional image and promotes business success
Enhances human productivity and reduces direct costs
Prevents crisis and reduces the full range of costs
Manages wastes and contributes to environmental protection
Dr. Berry’s assertions aren’t arbitrary claims. Several studies support his statements, also highlighting the health and business benefit effective cleaning:
Sometimes we get so caught up in the daily routine of cleaning, that we forget to step back at the bigger picture of WHY we clean. And as the data shows, cleaning has big implications for not only people’s health, but also business.
So the next time someone asks you what you do for a living, tell them proudly that you’re in the professional cleaning industry. And keep our list handy so you’re always mindful of why what you do is so important.
https://managemen.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/why-we-clean-SOCIAL.png800800Andi Curryhttps://managemen.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/MMLogoRev800.pngAndi Curry2020-01-22 18:16:062020-01-22 18:16:09Why We Clean
As we close out this decade, we wanted to send a quick thank you to all the hard working people who keep our buildings, homes, streets and cities clean.
Here’s to the Janitor, who works in the shadows.
The person who pushes a mop,
Takes out our trash,
And removes the dust
To keep the buildings we visit, learn and heal clean.
Here’s to the Janitor, whose name we don’t often know.
The person who works as a housekeeper,
Or a custodian,
People who perform important work that impacts us all.
Here’s the Janitor, the person at the front lines during an outbreak.
The person who dons the mask,
And sprays the disinfectant,
Deep cleaning and decontaminating spaces.
Whenever Norovirus, influenza or another serious virus strikes.
Here’s to the Janitor, who never stops moving.
The person who is constantly lifting,
Often taking home more than just a paycheck.
Here’s to the Janitor, whose hard work often goes unappreciated.
The person who helps us breathe better,
And focus better,
By removing the germs, dust and mold
To keep our indoor environments healthy.
Here’s to the Janitor and cleaners all around the world.
To the person in Tokyo who starts their shift
When the cleaner in New York goes home.
Here’s to all the cleaners!
We see you, and we thank you.
https://managemen.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/Heres-to-the-Janitor.png800800Andi Curryhttps://managemen.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/MMLogoRev800.pngAndi Curry2019-12-27 19:09:552019-12-27 19:09:58Here’s to the Janitor
Unless you’ve been on a break from the news and social media over the past week (which we highly recommend doing every once in awhile!), you’ve likely heard the news about a new fungus spreading through nursing homes and hospitals everywhere. Setting its target on people with compromised immune systems, Candida auris spreads rapidly. Cleaning professionals should monitor the situation as the fungus can live outside of the body for a long period of time—up to a month or longer, according to CDC expert Tom Chiller.
What makes it so significant? Cadida auris is multi drug-resistant, meaning that it doesn’t respond to common anti fungal drugs. Further complicating the issue is that it’s difficult to diagnose and treat.
Where is it? Because it targets people with weakened immune systems, it is known to spread in hospitals, nursing home and other healthcare environments.
How does it spread? In addition to living on the skin of an infected patient, Candida auris lives on surfaces. It can spread from person to person, or from a contaminated surface to a person.
How will custodial teams be impacted? Environmental service departments will play a key role in preventing the spread of C. auris in a facility. The CDC recommends that patients with Candida auris be placed in a single room that may require frequent cleaning with a high-grade disinfectant (those effective against Clostridioides difficile) listed here. Infection control will work with EVS teams to ensure regular and thorough cleaning.
How can I prepare? As outlined in our Pandemic Planning playbook, here are a few steps custodial departments can take to prepare for an outbreak of C. Aureus in their facility:
Conduct a survey, list and map locations of all direct and indirect contact fomites (hard and soft surfaces) in the building.
Stockpile disinfectants, spray bottles, gloves, hand soap and germicidal wipes.
Provide “Protect Yourself” training for cleaning workers
Regularly check the CDC Website to review the latest guidelines on managing C. aureus.
Ultimately, the key is preparation, not panic. For additional resources, you may want to check out our Pandemic Planning Playbook. While the material outlines specific steps for (OS1) operations, it can be used as a template for all cleaning departments. A full review of microbiology basics is available in Microbiology for Cleaning Workers. This book offers a great guideline for worker training.
https://managemen.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/Candida-Auris.png800800Andi Curryhttps://managemen.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/MMLogoRev800.pngAndi Curry2019-04-17 18:38:032019-04-17 18:38:06Keeping an Eye on Candida auris: How Cleaning Departments Can Prepare
Note: Each month, Ben Walker shares his monthly musings for our e-Newsletter, Cleaning Matters. April’s column is located here. If you aren’t subscribed to Cleaning Matters, you can do so by clicking here.
A few weeks ago, I was asked to present during the Clean Buildings Expo, which is sponsored in part by Trade Press Media Group, the publishing company for FCD. No question it was a career highlight, as I had the wonderful opportunity of meeting so many of the people who have read my columns over the years. There were a few times when I had to pinch myself because I felt like a celebrity! People stood in long lines to have me sign copies of their Cleaning Times books and to say hello.
One of the people who stood in the line following my session asked if I would have time over the next few days to speak with her further. She owned a contract cleaning business and was looking to improve some of the processes in place. I told her I’d sit down with her the next morning for coffee and we’d talk. Just talk, no consulting fees, no selling—just talking through some of her issues ,sharing ideas to help her make her business more efficient.
I don’t tell you this to pat myself on the back. I share it because the high from last week’s event was still fresh on my mind when I started digging through my email this morning and came across this expose just published by Variety magazine, a weekly entertainment guide: “How America’s Biggest Theater Chains are Exploiting Their Janitors.”
Please take the time to read through the article and share it with your peers. It’s important that we support publications that bring the labor issues that run so rampant in our industry to light. It’s a story we all know too well—when cleaning is treated as a commodity, cleaning workers ultimately lose.
The article shares details of children of janitor’s being brought to work, sleeping on the floor or theater seats. Janitors going unpaid or receiving $350-$400 a week after working eight to 10 hours a day, seven days a week.
“I don’t know what Hell is like, but I think it would be like that,” one cleaner told the reporter. “Sometimes I was crying because my feet couldn’t take it anymore. My back couldn’t take it anymore. I didn’t know how I could finish the work I had to do.”
There are so many cleaning companies that play in this arena who exploit the people performing the work for their profit. However, there are also a lot of companies out there trying to doing the right thing, like the woman I met during the Clean Buildings Expo last week.
As an industry, we have so much work to do.
Professionalism. Integrity. Standards.
By standing on these principles, we will continue driving the industry forward.
When we don’t, we only hurt ourselves and the people around us. And we enable conditions like those described in this article to continue thriving.
Thank you for joining us in this fight.
https://managemen.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/Copy-of-Copy-of-Copy-of-Copy-of-5-2-e1554993120225.png787836Ben Walkerhttps://managemen.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/MMLogoRev800.pngBen Walker2019-04-11 14:25:092019-04-11 14:34:44The Good Fight
It’s late at night and you’ve just touched down at the airport after flying into a new city. Collecting your bags off the carousel, you turn to find the exit for ride shares. The cleaner, who is dust mopping the marble floors, sees you and welcomes you to Dallas. He asks if he can help you find something. Relieved you don’t have to go find someone who likely won’t be standing at an obscure podium this late at night, you thank him and ask where the ride share stand is. He smiles and points to the south-facing door.
The next morning, you wake up in your hotel room and start getting ready for the conference, which starts in a few hours. As you head out the door, a housekeeper greets you and says good morning. She asks how you slept and if you need anything to make your stay more comfortable. An extra pillow might be nice, you tell her, giving her your room number. She says she’ll make sure to leave another pillow for you, wishing you a good day.
This isn’t a dream. This is an opportunity.
If you’re reading this blog post, you already know that a lot of businesses treat cleaning like a commodity. They want the task of cleaning to be done for the lowest cost. And you know why this happens—too many people don’t understand the value of cleaning. They don’t realize how cleaning affects the health and productivity of people who live, work and/or visit their buildings.
But what if we adjust the lens to show how cleaners impact not only the cleanliness of a building, but also a guests’ perception of the business—and ultimately, it’s brand?
This happens two ways:
Facility Cleanliness: More and more consumers expect a quality level of cleanliness. This is true from hotels to schools, restaurants to office buildings. According to hospitalitynet.org, “Studies have shown that among all problems experienced by guests, unclean rooms have the greatest negative impact on satisfaction.”
For businesses with more one than one location or building, ensuring a consistent level of clean across properties is critical to maintaining that brand standard. For example, if you go to a drugstore in one city, you’d expect a consistent level of cleanliness at the same type of store in another city. Target is a store that gets this—cleanliness is core to their brand. As this Forbes contributor notes, “When given the choice between Target and Wal-Mart, many people generally agree Target is a better experience. This is mostly due to the cleanliness of the stores and overall operations.”
As this Forbes contributor notes, “When given the choice between Target and Wal-Mart, many people generally agree Target is a better experience. This is mostly due to the cleanliness of the stores and overall operations.
Target is a store that gets this—cleanliness is core to their brand. As this Forbes contributor notes, “When given the choice between Target and Wal-Mart, many people generally agree Target is a better experience. This is mostly due to the cleanliness of the stores and overall operations.”
What’s more is that online reviews are playing an increasing role in what businesses people support. Some research shows that of every five people who walk through the front door for the first time, at least four of them will have read about the business first online.
A dirty business can be a big deal—who cleans that store and how they clean will have a substantial impact on that visitor’s experience and perception of that brand.
Customer Service: We tend to focus on the job of cleaning, but in many facilities, cleaners are also one of the most customer-facing parts of a business. We’ve heard so many stories about the impact of an environmental service worker during a hospital stay. It’s not the doctors or nurses who leave an impression, but the person who comes in to clean the room every day.
Similarly, in a hotel, school, shopping mall, airport or retail store, a custodian may be the first person a guest sees when they need something or have a question. If that cleaner isn’t empowered with the right training and support to respond to that question, it is a missed opportunity.
As businesses look to evolve and separate themselves from the competition, they will look to engage ALL customer-facing employees and operations in developing the experience for people visiting their businesses. Custodial departments can—and will— play a vital role in that effort. As a cleaning professional, the better you can communicate this, the more invaluable you become.
https://managemen.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/Copy-of-5-7.png800800Andi Curryhttps://managemen.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/MMLogoRev800.pngAndi Curry2019-04-03 17:34:502019-04-03 17:41:16How Cleaning—and Cleaners—Can Impact the Brand of a Business
When people are first introduced to Six Sigma, a program used by businesses for continuous improvement, one of the first things they’re asked to do is to draw a happy pig. Without any instruction, you can imagine the different types of drawings people create! After everyone shows each other their work and the variation in the drawings becomes apparent, they are then provided a set of instructions and asked to draw the pig again. This time, they find that the drawings look remarkably similar. The point of the exercise is to demonstrate how when a group of people have instruction, most will produce a consistent result.
The McDonald’s empire was built on around consistency; consistency that was structured around the pillars of “quality, service, cleanliness and value.” Ray Kroc knew that when you’re looking for a consistent product, you need to standardize the products and the systems in place. In fact, he’s quoted as saying, “If I had a brick for every time I’ve repeated the phrase Quality, Service, Cleanliness and Value, I think I’d probably be able to bridge the Atlantic Ocean with them.”
Standardized systems and products are what make a Big Mac in Des Moines, IA, taste the same as a Big Mac served in Kroc’s first restaurant in Des Plaines, IL.
Standardization is the hallmark of efficiency—just think about the ISO 9000 quality management and quality assurance standards. But for some reason, standards are lost when it comes to custodial departments. Organizations implement standardized processes throughout their customer service, warehouse, purchasing and human resource departments… but they neglect to think about how the custodial department could benefit from standardized processes.
How the Absence of Standards Can Result in Cleanwashing
In the first part of this series, we discussed the rise of “greenwashing” and how when the demand for sustainable products grew, suppliers marketed their products as good for the environment when they really weren’t.
Similarly, there are a lot of cleaning companies out there that make claims that they know how to clean, but they often lack the knowledge, processes and systems to ensure a consistent level of cleanliness. They think that anyone can pick up a mop and clean. But when was the last time they changed the water and solution in the mop bucket? Are they using the same mop to clean the restrooms, hallways and kitchen areas? Do they put up the proper signage in public areas to reduce the chance of slips and falls?
This is an example of “cleanwashing.”
We’ve found that cleanwashing happens more often then you’d think because so many people believe that anyone can clean. But another part of the issue is that people don’t think or ask how something is cleaned, just that it looks clean. And that’s a dangerous oversight. As anyone in this industry knows, there are a lot of things that can go undetected to the visible eye. Just ask any cleaner who has worked on a cruise ship and had to deal with Norovirus or a custodian who has had to deep clean a school during a flu outbreak.
Let’s think back to the happy pig picture. What happens when you hand someone a flat mop with little to no instruction? Just because the floor has been mopped, has it been cleaned? The individual might work from left to right, he or she might walk in circles around the floor, walk around areas that have already been mopped—there’s really no limit to the way one might approach mopping a floor. They could be moving soil around, not removing the soil.
How Does Standardization Help Improve Organizational Excellence?
When we think of standardizing processes, you may think that it would only be beneficial to franchise operations or by businesses that repeat work throughout more than one location. For example, a contract cleaner would benefit from standardizing job duties and processes so someone can pick up a job in Building A and repeat it in Building D or F—wherever they are needed, delivering the same exact quality of work.
But occupational theorists have found that the benefits of a standardizing processes go beyond delivering a consistent product. It can also be a tool to empower and retain employees. Standardization takes the guesswork from the task and means that employees have an established, time-tested process to use. Organizations use standardized processes to boost productivity and improve employee morale, because employees can take pride in knowing that they have mastered a given task. Fast Company says that organizational standardization can fuel innovation. And there’s a good chance we’ll only see more standardization in the future. The prestigious Wharton School of Business says companies are increasingly moving toward standardization.
When it comes to cleanwashing, standardization gives anyone who is either directly or indirectly responsible for the cleaning and maintenance in their building with a set of guidelines. It also allows for the development of metrics. In an ideal scenario, all custodial positions are workloaded, and workers are kitted with the exact tools and supplies they need for the day. They follow a specific set of instructions detailed on a card so areas are cleaned the exact same way, each time, delivering a standard result and a consistent level of clean throughout every building.
How Can We Combat Cleanwashing?
Too often, custodial work is commoditized, meaning that people don’t understand the value of the service and shop it out to the lowest-priced provider. While this trend is starting to change, it’s up to the people who provide custodial services that are built upon standardized processes and procedures to educate stakeholders about what they bring to the table. A few important talking points to cover might include:
— Removing soil versus moving soil around.
— Worker training and safety.
— The impact of cleaning on health.
— The cost versus the price of clean.
— How standardization impacts the overall quality of clean.
As we illustrated in the first part of this series, there is an increasing demand for clean facilities. People spend money in buildings that are clean. But it’s important for the people who live, work and visit those facilities to understand that just because something LOOKS clean, it doesn’t mean that it necessarily IS clean. When there’s a standardized process in place, you have the peace of mind in knowing that the outcome is consistent — every time.
https://managemen.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/Copy-of-5-7.png800800Andi Curryhttps://managemen.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/MMLogoRev800.pngAndi Curry2019-01-23 13:00:312019-01-22 17:06:40The Rise of Cleanwashing: Part II