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Training Doesn't Cost, It Pays

August 22, 2012
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If you want something done right, do it yourself.

But, more than likely, you don't have the time or resources to personally do every little thing that needs to get done each day.

And, unless you are superhuman — Flash Gordon or Wonder Woman, perhaps — chances are good that you have people working for you.

How, then, can you ensure that every customer receives the level of quality they would get if you were handling each and every detail?

This question can be answered with one simple word: Training.

Training your employees — even if you think a task is a no-brainer — is the only way to guarantee a uniform system of cleaning and maintenance throughout the building or throughout multiple properties, if dealing with larger contracts.

If training is such an important concept, why do many businesses and organizations forego it altogether?

This can also be answered very simply: Cost.

And, the perceived cost of training often outweighs its true value.

If you want the job done properly, you have to start by giving your employees the tools they need to consistently succeed.

Not A Four Letter Word

Training and continued education can be tedious and time-consuming; there is no way around this.

Custodial and maintenance professionals, especially those considered veterans, may be resistant to training, as they often feel they know how to do their job better than anyone else; after all, they have been doing it for years.

But, if you want your staffs to invest their time in the places they maintain, the time must be invested in them to make sure they are prepared for every scenario that might come their way.

A well-rounded staff member not only knows the ins and outs of the tasks they must perform each and every day, but they are also able to troubleshoot any unforeseen problems that might arise.

The more your staffs can handle on their own, the less likely your customers are to complain about having to wait for an issue to be resolved, no matter how trivial it might seem to you.

When cleaning and maintaining someone else's place of business — be it a private office or a public building funded by taxpayers — what seems trivial and insignificant to you could be a very big deal for someone else.

If your workers do not know how to handle these situations, the process to get something fixed becomes long and drawn out and can tarnish your reputation, something that you have carefully crafted over the years.

For well-trained staffs, these situations are not problematic; for staffs that have not been trained because it was deemed "unnecessary" or "not worth the time," they may be steps away from disciplinary action, unemployment or a contributing factor to a contract loss.

Making The Investment

With all the things that could go wrong from the moment a staff member begins a job, lasting until well after that job has been completed, training is the only way to ensure the job gets done as if you were there to personally oversee every step.

But, it's not just how a facility is cleaned that requires staffs to be trained; the increasingly sophisticated tools and equipment used often require a little extra time to learn.

The cleaning industry has come a long way from its rudimentary roots.

We began with just water and then graduated to cleaning agents; now, there are greener chemistries, chemical-free cleaning agents and new equipment that allows for better, faster and more efficient cleaning than in the past.

But, what all of these new elements have in common is just that: They're new.

"With janitorial equipment, materials and supplies advancing as rapidly as they are, it's imperative that employees stay abreast of this cleaning environment," says Carl Bowman, director of custodial services at The Ohio State University. "Educating staffs only makes good financial sense from the standpoint of the investment made in maintaining today's facilities."

The key here is the investment made: A company or facility will invest exorbitant amounts of money on equipment and supplies, but when it comes to ensuring that the folks who will be utilizing those items can use them properly, decision makers and check writers often seem to balk.

"Because of the advancements in equipment, materials and supplies, staff members need to understand and know how to utilize them to continue to perform their jobs as safely and efficiently as possible," states Darrin Dunn, custodial training specialist for Newport News Public Schools. "Therefore, ongoing training is the only way to ensure that this is going to happen — and keep on happening."

Reaping The Benefits

There is no one who doesn't benefit from a well-executed training program.

"Everybody benefits from a training program," explains Dunn. "Custodians learn how to perform their jobs better and more efficiently. They learn new ways of doing daily tasks, how to utilize new equipment and use chemicals that are safer. Students and faculty benefit because they are utilizing cleaner and healthier facilities. Employers are happy because all these advancements help reduce overall operating costs."

Everyone, from the owner to the employee and directly to the client, benefits from what a training program has to offer.

In the long term, federal agencies have stated that properly trained employees, especially housekeepers, lead to cleaner facilities and a more empowered and professional employee.

Even in the short term, however, training benefits staffs with standards and procedures, assisting them with acclimating to the work faster.

Beginning a new job, no matter who you are or where you're working, can be daunting.

Even if a worker considers themself a seasoned veteran, how they have "always performed" a certain task might not be the best or most effective way; they simply know no other way and do what works for them.

A successful business thrives when all moving parts work in concert.

Training staffs on proper procedures not only ensures that facilities are always cleaned to the highest possible standard, but also greatly lessens the chances of premature equipment degradation or damage — to the built environment, the ecosystem or the health of building occupants — from improperly administered cleaning chemicals.

Equipment that is used and abused, resulting in breakage or other general disrepair, will cost as much, if not more, than properly training your workers on how to avoid such hassles.

When something breaks or you unexpectedly run out of supplies, it can put a huge dent in your bottom line.

Having to repair equipment or reschedule tasks because you don't have the necessary tools can be detrimental to both productivity and profit.

More Than The Bottom Line

Ensuring that your staffs are properly trained on the equipment or chemicals they use day in and day out can not only result in a boost in the bottom line and customer retention, but it can also help guarantee the health and safety of building occupants.

While a piece of equipment might look easy to operate, one wrong move could result in injury, disability or death.

The proper way to handle chemicals might be second nature to one staff member, but another could have a completely different mindset.

Seasoned veterans know that mixing chemicals is a huge no-no; a newbie, temporary replacement or the kid off the street you hired for the summer might have no clue about the potential dangers to mixing different chemicals.

With a training program in place, you are able to standardize how chemicals are used, where they are kept and how they are distributed, stressing that they are never to be mixed but, rather, only diluted with water.

Also, with a training program, you can ensure that no one uses a piece of equipment without expressly knowing how to work it.

"Well-trained custodians perform their jobs more efficiently and properly utilize the equipment, materials and supplies needed to perform those jobs," asserts Dunn. Equipment and materials will last longer with proper use and care, and supplies will go further by utilizing proper dilution ratios."

Putting employees through a training program also helps standardize practices over a variety of facilities.

If someone is sick or injured, leaves unexpectedly or is let go, there will be little worry or downtime when putting someone new in that vacant position, as there will be little variation from one employee to another.

A Boost In Morale

All employees want to do their job well and they want to do it correctly.

Often, employees who perform poorly have not been given the correct tools to meet quality standards.

A staff member who wants to do well will appreciate a training program because it sets them up for success, not failure.

When staffs have the tools — not only the best products and equipment, but also the training on how to most effectively utilize them — it reflects positively on everyone.

"With the evolving environment in the JanSan industry, employees must continuously train to stay ahead," adds Bowman. "It is vital that housekeepers stay abreast of the changes in how to combat dirt, germs and microorganisms to keep clients safe. Educating your staffs not only pays monetarily, but it also pays in a better and happier employee."

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