Cleaning & Maintenance Management Online
October 2013 Let's Talk Shop

Proper Staffing Includes More Than Just Cleaning

In calculating or justifying staffing needs, you must account for both cleaning and non-cleaning time.

October 9, 2013

As cleaning professionals, one of the most difficult tasks we face is staffing our facilities, especially in a tough economy where every dollar counts.

Even with a comprehensive space inventory and the application of cleaning tasks, times and frequencies, there is an ingredient that many people overlook: The time workers aren’t actually cleaning.

As Barney, the facilities manager of a large school district was walking back to his office one day, his boss called after him to stop in for a minute.

Paul, business manager of the district and administrator in charge of buildings and grounds, had just returned from a school business officers’ conference.

“Barney, I would like you to take a look at this,” he said, laying out the state’s benchmarking study for cleaning operations in all its schools.

“This chart says an average custodian can clean 3,500 square feet per hour. That would mean our custodians should each be able to clean 28,000 square feet per shift. On the way back from the conference I did some quick calculations, and I think we are overstaffed in our high schools.”

Not only did Barney disagree that they were overstaffed, but for the past two months he’d been advocating for an additional cleaner in each of the three district high schools.

After examining the documents for a few minutes, Barney pointed out that the total square footage was based upon each custodian cleaning for the full eight hours per shift.

He also wondered aloud whether some of the other non-cleaning tasks that his people performed had been taken into account.

Barney and Paul agreed to meet within the next week to determine appropriate staffing levels.

As Barney left Paul’s office, he recognized that he’d need to document both the cleaning and non-cleaning tasks and times in a more comprehensive manner if he wanted to justify his real staffing needs.

Non-cleaning Time Calculations

  • AADW (Annual Average Days Worked)
    Not everyone on staff works every day. People get sick, take their vacation time or have other reasons for not being at work. Even though someone is not at work, their work still must get done. AADW calculates the additional employees you need to cover the workplace in the absence of others.
  • DPM (Daily Productive Minutes)
    Employees rarely spend every minute of their shift cleaning. An eight-hour shift might include two 15-minute breaks plus a 15-minute set-up time, for example. In this case, the DPM would be 45 minutes less than the maximum. Sometimes routine non-cleaning tasks are integrated into the DPM, such as incorporating 30 minutes per shift for all employees to perform minor maintenance duties. All factors that affect the DPM should be clearly documented.
  • Stand-alone non-cleaning tasks and project cleaning
    Depending on your specific facilities, your employees may be responsible for tasks other than routine cleaning. These non-cleaning tasks might include maintenance, set up for events, security and project cleaning. As these non-routine tasks may not be performed on a regular basis or evenly distributed among your employees, it is sometimes necessary to average out the time for non-routine tasks. As with the other factors that determine staffing levels, it is important to document the specifics as to the name of the task, the time it takes and the person performing the task.

Barney did his homework and when he met with Paul, he was able to justify an additional FTE in each of his high schools.

Before he left the office Paul told Barney, “I like what you’ve done here. This helps me better understand exactly what your people are doing. It’s a lot more than just cleaning.”