At universities across the United States, students are filing back onto campuses ready for the start of a new fall semester.
Facility managers and building service contractors (BSCs) responsible for university dorms, classrooms and other buildings will see an increase in traffic, and cleaning frequency will need to increase to keep these facilities clean and safe for students.
High-traffic floors and carpets will require regular vacuuming and upkeep, and restrooms and common areas will need daily disinfection and touch-point cleaning.
While the organization of a janitorial or environmental services department likely will be the key to a university’s cleaning success, proper employee and worker training can be just as important.
Trained employees who follow the correct steps to complete a cleaning job properly are the foundation of all success in the JanSan industry.
Previously, managers used high turnover rates as an excuse to not train their employees; since employees frequently started then disappeared, managers said, training did not provide a good return on investment.
For BSCs, the fear was that trained employees would eventually start their own operation and turn into competition.
“I think that they are false beliefs, personally,” states William Griffin, president of Cleaning Consultant Services Inc. and a noted industry trainer. “I think that when people are involved in training and they have a goal in mind to get a different opportunity or to learn more … then they do a better job while they’re there.”
And even when training was offered to employees, it often lacked a hands-on component.
In the past — and sometimes still today — employee training was made up only of a slide presentation or a video, Griffin notes.
The worst case training scenario has been a manager or BSC handing a new employee a set of keys and saying, “Good luck.”
Today, training has evolved, and the newest trend is a blended approach that mixes classroom learning with hands-on cleaning tasks, Griffin says.
Hands-on training allows employees to learn by doing rather than just sitting on a chair and listening.
Another offering is mobile training where workers learn by performing tasks on the actual jobsite, Griffin notes.
Griffin attends a number of training conferences every year, and he says the continued development of mobile training shows a possible future where classroom training is not needed at all.
This “no classroom” concept means that training would not be a central event, but it would instead become an everyday component of operating a business or leading a team of workers, according to Griffin.
Follow-up with employees in the field after training has also proven important.
Workers should be asked what the training covered, and they should be required to apply or use what they learned during the presentation or hands-on session.
Griffin says the follow-up process should be repeated three times after a training session: two days, two weeks and two months later.
While the benefits of proper training can be hard to validate specifically, Griffin states that training will improve:
- Turnover rates
- The cost of industrial insurance
- Production rates
- Quality inspections.
In addition, workers’ compensation insurance rates can decrease due to fewer workplace accidents and injuries.
Moving forward, universities should be excited to provide up-to-date training to their cleaning employees.
“I think you can look at production rates and quality assessment inspection rates as well and put some numbers with those to validate that the training you’re doing is making a difference,” Griffin concludes. “It’s a really exciting time in the cleaning industry, and I think that training plays a key role in our success.”