Cleaning & Maintenance Management Online

Take Your Training To The Next Level

February 18, 2011

As humans, we only know what we are taught.

Unless we are properly trained, tasks will be performed in whichever ways seem easiest.

Without proper training and education, we are not maximizing our potential.

When the simple, most basic ideals and fundamentals are pushed aside or overlooked, this maximum potential will never be achieved, at least not at the level that is possible or necessary for the facility in which we are working.

Why is training important; does training develop individuals into better employees?

Yes.

Does training validate work standards; does training identify benchmarks for expectations?

Yes.

Then, why do so many stand by the idea of hiring someone and immediately throwing them into the fray?

If the ultimate goal of a facility is to be taken care of, to not only appear clean on the surface but to actually be clean, why are training programs cut, skimped or truncated?

The appearance of your facility is what can make or break you, what makes people come back time after time or what influences their staying away.

Proper Training Goes A Long Way

There is a myth, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), that most building cleaning workers — with the exception of supervisors — do not need any formal training because they will mainly learn the necessary skills on the job.

While this is true, can you say exactly what your employees are learning?

Are they learning skills and habits that are detrimental to the cleanliness of your facility; are they learning improper techniques and shortcuts?

The BLS also states that the proper training of cleaning staff not only leads to cleaner buildings, but can also mean fewer accidents, faster cleaning times and a more professional cleaning staff.

Proper training is essential for staff to get off on the right foot and to ensure their work is done properly, safely and efficiently.

The proper training of employees is essential — not just to get the job done correctly, but also to keep your cleaning crews safe and on the job.

The Investment

Proper training and education is critical to the overall bottom line.

"On every job, there are decisions to be made by each crew member that requires having the insight and confidence to select the correct methods and procedures for optimum cleaning that leads to a successful client relationship. The only way to achieve this is by being properly armed with training and education," says Dave Heitner, president of Heits Building Services Inc.

Training should be looked at as an investment of time and money into the employees who have a direct effect on how the entire company is perceived.

Failing to invest in training jeopardizes the success of the company and, in some cases, their very survival.

"Right now, a lot of companies are looking to get the most bang for the buck," points out Heitner, who believes that cleaning companies that arm their crews with training have a distinct edge over those that don''t.

"Everyone has a better return on the training investment when overall customer satisfaction is strong due to strong training," adds Heitner.

Breaking The Habit

While the idea of on-the-job, hands-on training would seem to be what every employer and employee is looking for, think about how many different cleaning situations your veteran employees may have already been in by they time they are cleaning the facility in which they are currently working.

The odds are good that they''ve picked up some habits that might not be to your liking.

Old habits die hard and you can''t teach an old dog new tricks.

These are just two clichés that may, in fact, be the mindset of any seasoned cleaning staff you have in your employment.

In a way, this is true: A habit, once formed, is much harder to break.

If your staff has picked up a habit over the years that they deem makes their job easier or quicker, the odds are favorable that they aren''t going to want to give up this practice at the drop of a hat.

But, what is easy for the worker is not always going to be what is best for the facility.

However, if you put your employees through a structured training program, it is entirely possible to train a new employee from scratch and to retrain a veteran in ways that are safer and more effective.

Putting staff through a training program not only teaches proper technique, but also creates a standard that can be applied throughout entire organizations.

"A training program taught by qualified instructors demonstrates the importance management has placed on cleaning practices relating to health and safety," notes Gordon Snell, residence manager at the University of Saskatchewan.

Snell emphasizes that a training program can identify and address poor work practices and help to implement a standard practice that is both safe and effective.

Properly training and educating you staff not only results in a cleaner, healthier, easier-to-maintain facility, but also can be the tool your staff needs to do their jobs properly and, most importantly, safely.

Training can even provide staff with a sense of camaraderie and increased morale.

"Elevating the cleaning staff to the earned status of ''professional'' has immediate and long-lasting benefits to morale," says Snell.

Custodial professionals need training to safely and effectively do their jobs.

With oftentimes unforeseen hazards, not giving your staff the keys to success can be a recipe for disaster.

While training may not be required, there are many benefits for having a well-trained janitorial staff.

Many assume that a janitor''s work is commonsense, since it consists of what most would call "basic cleaning duties," but this isn''t necessarily true.

Janitors often work with hazardous chemical cleaners and work around a host of bacteria and pathogens that aren''t found in the average home.

If you want to keep your staff on the job and not at home racking up the sick days, it is important that your staff knows how to effectively combat germs while keeping themselves safe in the cleaning process.

"Knowledge is power," says Heitner. "Having the confidence to do one''s job successfully is worth every bit of the time and money investment that goes into proper training. Improper training can cause a cleaning crew to simply ruin the customer''s property, leading to loss of contracts or, even worse, lawsuits for damage."

Today''s cleaning professional not only commands respect, but also requires a high degree of knowledge and skill.

With the different types of cleaning requirements, rules and regulations that go along with a building being certified green — the goal of most facilities — the custodian has become vastly more important to the efficiency of an organization and a healthy environment.

Modern buildings made of modern materials require modern equipment, chemicals and techniques in order to keep them sanitary, safe and in proper operating condition.

By educating those in the JanSan industry on the newest, most efficient processes and management best practices, we can collectively add to the professionalism of our industry while delivering superior results with fewer resources.