Contract cleaning company Doc’s Facilities Solutions hasn’t had a workplace injury reported by a custodian or client in the five years they’ve been in business, says company founder and President Joel Craddock. Not only is that a spotless record for the Rochester, NY-based company to boast to potential clients, but it’s a big money saver, as well.
For the past few years, Craddock’s company has paid about 9.35 cents on the dollar in workers compensation insurance to the state of New York—a requirement he must fulfill just for having custodial employees. In 2017 that converted to more than US$30,000 in payments after paying out almost $350,000 in wages. That’s a huge chunk of change, and a significant hit to his company’s bottom line.
Fortunately for Craddock, he’s figured out the secret to significantly decreasing these costs for the—hopefully—foreseeable future. The key, he says, is training.
In February 2018, Craddock received word that his workers’ compensation premiums would be dropping from 9.353 cents on the dollar to 7.96 cents—a reward for not having any accidents or fatalities reported for several years. That’s a savings of 14.89 percent. “In an industry that’s typically a single digit margin industry, that’s huge,” Craddock says.
There are a lot of factors that impact an organization’s insurance costs, even a state’s minimum wage, but as Craddock’s company shows, the number of claims an employer files can make or break the bank. Since submitting a claim for a workplace accident or injury can directly inflate insurance rates, Craddock says, the most foolproof way to mitigate such cost increases is to prevent accidents and injuries from occurring in the first place. The best way to do this is with proper training and certification.
With this in mind, it’s important to remember organizations aren’t going to see positive results by taking a “set it and forget it” approach. Training needs to be ongoing across the organization, it needs to be implemented properly, and it needs to be consistent. Some ongoing initiatives Craddock’s company has implemented include the following:
- 15–20-minute daily huddles, featuring a safety tip of the day
- Weekly trainings focusing on leadership skills and equipment usage
- Monthly meetings that end with a 15-minute training session covering basic cleaning tasks, such as how to properly clean a toilet or use microfiber.
Additionally, Craddock says, it’s not just about training the custodians. Having a strong management and supervision team in place is key. Certifying company leaders is one way to achieve this. According to a 2016 survey of facility service providers that were certified under ISSA’s Cleaning Industry Management Standard—a framework facility managers can implement to improve their management structure, performance systems, and processes—85 percent saw a reduction in work-related injuries.
Company experience and reputation is the top selling point for building service contractors, according to CMM’s 2017 BSC/Contract Cleaning Benchmarking Survey, but having proof of training for both staff and management can also help. About 39 percent of contract cleaners who took CMM’s survey said they used industry-recognized certification programs to differentiate their companies from the competition.
And these selling points are effective. More than half of facility managers who took CMM’s 2017 In-House/Facility Management Benchmarking Survey said that certifications were “very important” when selecting an outsourced service provider—a credential Craddock leveraged to land a new client.
According to Craddock, this particular client was only interested in working with low-liability contractors. Aside from having no injuries to report, the stand-out selling point for Craddock was the certified training program Doc’s Facilities Solutions had in place. And in the end, it won him the contract.
When Jess Baidwan started his job as the custodial supervisor for Southern Ute Indian Tribe in Colorado, his department wasn’t in the best shape after suffering from a lack of training and supplies in addition to high turnover. Before his arrival on campus, training primarily consisted of a single half day pointing custodians to their work area. Baidwan knew he had a long road ahead of him if he wanted to make a difference.
According to a 2017 research paper by Gallup, “One of the most crucial requirements for developing outstanding employee performance is ensuring that employees are clear about the work they need to do and what qualifies it as successful.”
So that’s what Baidwan did. Viewing his staff as an asset, he decided the best way to get the department in order was by leveraging training opportunities. He became certified through ISSA’s Cleaning Management Institute’s (CMI’s) Train the Trainer program, and in turn, he is now able to train and certify his own custodial staff using the CMI curriculum.
Baidwan says the CMI training program is challenging and immersive, but it’s not meant to be a cake walk. In the end, he gets better work out of his employees when they complete the training, a benefit of investing in employee performance.
Craddock, who is also certified with CMI and actually leads CMI trainings for other organizations, says the thorough work of his trained staff has prevented incidences of employees being called back to a job site. In the five years Doc’s Facilities Solutions has been in business, it’s only happened twice, keeping the costs for such incidences under $1,000.
Not only do Baidwan’s employees have a “great sense of personal accomplishment,” from being certified custodians, but their competency, quality of work, and job satisfaction has also improved. As a result, they stick around longer.
Baidwan currently has 13 employees on staff; 10 of them have been on his team for more than a year, six have been there for more than four years, and two have been there more than 10 years. Baidwan even had an employee come back to work for him after leaving for an organization that didn’t have proper cleaning procedures in place.
As a government employee, Baidwan hasn’t been able to translate his certification investments into actual dollars; however, there are dramatic savings from not having to regularly replace employees. “Some studies have calculated the direct cost of turnover by adding up costs across separation, replacement, and training activities, while others consider percentages or multiples of the employee’s salary in calculating the direct cost of turnover,” says the 2017 Retention Report by the Work Institute. “Estimates have ranged from $4,000 per employee to 1.5 times the employee’s salary.”
Proper training is about more than showing staff how to wipe down the counters or where to locate the vacuum and disinfectant. It’s about consistency and repetition. “When you were [taught] your ABCs, were you able to get it the first time?” Craddock asks.