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The power of training

September 19, 2010
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Training is an investment in your employees’ future — and yours.

Training is vital to the implementation of new, laborsaving techniques, equipment and procedures.

If your operation is not keeping up with industry trends by utilizing recent, valuable technology, and your cleaners are not qualified to perform needed tasks, someone else’s will be.

One industry pro puts it this way: You will never get out of a rut by not implementing a responsive training program to get employees to buy into new ways of doing the same things.

This article explores different facets of training programs based on type of account, demographics of facility, cleaning method and chemicals, and quality of workforce.

Take a look at what some industry pros consider vital training information for their operations, and decide if what proves successful for them may work for you.

Train, train, and train again
by Alan S. Bigger and Linda B. Bigger

It is a truism that, in general, when the economy sours or corporate profits dwindle, the first series of budgets to be cut are maintenance, custodial and training functions — all in the name of saving money.

However, the maintenance and custodial load is highly labor intensive; this type of work is performed by people and through people, our most precious resource.

In an era that demands more for less — in other words, increased efficiencies — it is imperative that we provide the best training possible to enhance the skills of the workforce and, by so doing, also increase the effectiveness of the workforce.

Words to live by
Realtors have often used the phrase “Location, location, location” to stress the impact that location has on the value of a property. Likewise, when working with/through human resources, “Train, train and train again” should be the mantra of the day.

The following are key elements of an effective training program that will enable people to learn on-the-job skills to enhance the effectiveness of the workforce, while improving the quality of the cleaning and maintenance teams.

Training should be exciting. How often have you been in a training program or seminar where the topic was as dry as dust, and people basically fell asleep? Training should be “jazzed up” so as to make the topic exciting and interesting to attendees.

Training should make sense. Sometimes a topic may not seem to have great relevance or be particularly interesting, yet it is important. For instance, required personal protective equipment (PPE) training expects that people be able to don and doff the equipment, such as gloves or goggles.

This hands-on training should be provided on a regular basis to keep people current.

Training should utilize your senses. Training programs should use as many of the five senses as possible in order to enhance the transfer of knowledge and to hone job skills. For instance, when teaching about chemicals, seeing the color of the chemical, touching the container that it is in, being aware of the smell, and hearing instructions that are interesting will greatly aid in assisting persons to understand the topic.

Use creative audio-visual aides. One can talk about a restroom or shower-cleaning machine, but actually seeing the machine increases the effectiveness of the training. Show a video or a DVD disc of the machine in action.

Hands-on training wins hands down. Allowing persons to follow a process or use a machine in a real-life setting while training will help to solidify the transfer of knowledge from the theoretical (i.e. in the classroom) to the real-life workplace. Hands-on training lets the trainer refine teaching methods that may have worked in the classroom or test site, but not in the field.

Repetition is key
Training instructors (T.I.s) in the military would stress to their charges, “Tell the airmen what you are going to tell them (overview of topic), then tell them (a discussion of the topic), and then tell them again what you told them (a review of the key points)”.

In other words, repetition of training points and reinforcement of skills on a regular basis is critical.

Remember: Train, train and train again!

Alan S. Bigger, B.S., M.A., R.E.H., is director, Building Services, University of Notre Dame (, and Linda B. Bigger, B.A., B.S., is a freelance editor (

Why should you train your employees?
by Dane Gregory

Each February, professional baseball players go to spring training in Arizona and Florida.

These athletes have been playing this game since they were boys, going through a mandatory training program not only to learn new techniques, but also to go back through the fundamentals.

The fundamentals of their craft need to be available as reaction is necessary.

The same goes for JanSan pros.

On their honor
It appears that “professionals” in our trade do not need a repetitive training program, but they simply need to go to a “class”, and never have to practice the craft outside the work environment.

A perfect training program should include the following ideas:

  • Tell
  • Show
  • Do
  • Review

This is how the training is done in the Boy Scouts of America. They understand about teaching young people how to complete physical tasks.

In this program, the trainer first tells the candidate what to do. The trainer should explain all necessary details of the task. Better yet, the training tasks should be in a written format.

The next step is to show the candidate exactly how to physically complete the task. This showing should include the preparation of the necessary cleaning agents, along with the manufacturers dilutions, and proper equipment needed to complete the tasks.

After the show part of the training, the candidate should complete the tasks exactly as shown, or do. The trainer should critique all movements and provide explanations in a positive manner, along with any corrections necessary.

The final step in the program is the review component. At this stage, the trainer and candidate switch places, and the candidate now explains to the trainer how to properly complete the task — training the trainer in all the movements and nuances of the task.

This is a necessary step in the training program to discern whether the student really understands how and why to complete the task, or is just going through the motions. It also gives the trainer a positive environment to make slight adjustments, and gives the candidate a program of positive feedback, and a comfortable situation in which to learn the skills.

Dane Gregory is president/CEO, 3D Corporation, Stevens Point, WI.

Everyone’s doing it
by Bob Merkt

McDonalds is doing it. Wal-Mart, Home Depot, grocery stores, casinos, and the hospitality industries are all doing it. In fact, most business are doing it — and you should, too!

What is it? It’s training their work forces on how to prevent slip and fall accidents.

Slips and falls are the leading cause of occupational injuries and workers’ compensation claims, the primary cause of lost workdays due to injuries. This includes not only your employees, but also your building occupants.

Slips and falls cost our nation more than $100 billion each year in direct and indirect costs. These costs are shared by each and every U.S. taxpayer, and continue to drain our gross national product and weaken our workforce.

A good floor-care safety program starts with the right training and attitude. Safety is not a department, but a business philosophy one must consider before conducting any floor-care activity.

Developing a slip/fall prevention program will prevent or greatly reduce your liability, protect your company against potential slip and fall accidents, and reduce insurance costs, litigation and unwanted lawsuits.

Defining the situation
When developing a slip/fall prevention program, it is helpful to first define the word “accident”. An accident describes an unfortunate happing or event that is unexpected and unpreventable.

However, most slip and fall “accidents” are preventable, and therefore, the word “incident” may be a better choice. Incident refers to a controllable, and in most cases, preventable happening or event.

When training employees, it is important to make the distinction between the two. Understanding the difference is a key component in developing a comprehensive “slip/fall prevention” training program. When employees recognize that most slips and falls are preventable, they view these incidents from a different perspective; one which can be controlled and managed.

This is just one example of how defining terminology is an important part of any training program. As it relates to slip/fall prevention training, there are three basic components: Awareness, causes, and prevention.

To learn more about slip and fall incidents, visit the National Floor Safety Institute (NFSI) at, and read your trade magazines. Talking to your insurance agent, networking with your peers, and attending seminars/workshops about the subject are excellent ways to become more knowledgeable.

The “NFSI Floor Safety Certification Course” offers a one-day slip/fall prevention certification course exclusively through the Cleaning Management Institute® (CMI). The program is an awareness seminar that focuses on the slip and fall statistics, causes and prevention. To find a class near you, go to

Bob Merkt is owner and instructor, Merkt Educational Group and Associates (MEGA), a division of Kettle Moraine Professional Cleaners, Inc, West Bend, WI, and an instructor with Cleaning Management Institute® (CMI).

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