Communicating The Importance of Cleaning

The following was first published in Facility Cleaning Decisions Magazine

Whether a hospital, elementary school or office building, most organizations have a communications system designed to share information with building occupants. This may be email, e-newsletters or printed company updates. In-house custodial executives should proactively use these tools to promote the work they do and communicate the value of the department.

The savvy, self-promoting custodial executive submits a column or contributes something to these communication channels every month or even every week. Their contributions might mention new programs or equipment, and the cleaning results they are seeing.

It’s important to think outside the box when doing these updates. When the custodial staff does a special project — maybe they revitalized a floor by using new technologies — let others know. The communication could say: “Last weekend the custodial staff worked on the floors in this area and was able to revitalize them, rather than have them replaced. This is the technology we used for the project and here’s how much money we saved by cleaning, rather than replacing the floors.”

Sustainable Push

In addition to contributing to newsletters, it’s also important to network with key leaders within the organization. For example, most facilities have someone in charge of leading environmental or sustainability programs. Custodial managers should know who these individuals are and approach them so they can be active participants in the development of company sustainability programs.

Custodial executives should can submit their ideas for new green technologies or sustainable methods to these leaders. For instance, they might suggest adding a new water-saving device to urinals, or purchasing a cleaning device that uses water rather than chemicals. Sustainability leaders love these types of suggestions, but all too often, janitors or custodians fail to share information about departmental advancements.

By speaking up, custodial managers can get sustainability leaders on their side, providing them a natural ally within the organization.

In addition to keeping sustainability leaders informed about the latest and greatest technologies and cleaning methods available, it’s also important to share the sustainable processes and equipment the janitorial operation already has in place. Ask yourself: Do people know what you do? Do people know you’re using this technology or that you have a green cleaning program? It’s important that cleaning operations tell this story.

Consider whether there are other groups beside sustainability committees that can benefit from the custodial perspective. If there are plans to renovate the facility, participate in the planning to help spec water- or energy-saving technologies, or sustainable flooring that will stand the test of time or is easier to clean.

Once new sustainable technologies are in the facility, custodial executives need to remember to let others know it was their idea to add them.

Let’s say the custodial staff was integral in adding water-saving devices to urinals. Why not put an information card next to the urinals that tells how much water is saved with this improvement, and attribute the information to the custodial staff?

If the custodians were actively involved in the recycling program, put a blurb about how much waste has been diverted from landfills because of this program on every recycling container, and again, attribute the message to the custodial staff.

Promoting Training Initiatives

Another area not lauded often enough is staff training. Custodial managers typically provide workers with consistent training that is well documented, and often far beyond the training received by other positions within the facility. Unfortunately, beyond using this documentation for certification purposes, this information is never shared.

Custodial executives should tout the training workers receive, how often they receive it, and how this training impacts the entire facility.

“A well laid out and organized custodial program, done by a well-trained staff, offers management a lot of pluses,” says Maurice Dixon, owner of Dixon and Associates, which offers training and consulting services to the janitorial industry. “These pluses convey a very positive image to employees, visitors and customers, and I believe adds a plus to the bottom line.”

Dixon goes on to list areas that custodial executives should do a better job of sharing:
1) Cleaner, Healthier, Safer Buildings
2) Protection of Property
3) Reduction of Risk
4) Positive Image
5) Pride in Results

“All of these, without question, add to a company’s bottom line,” Dixon says. “Good quality cleaning doesn’t cost — it pays.”

What also pays is a good plan on how custodial operations plan to promote what they do. Now is the time to wave your benefits flag.

RON SEGURA, founder and president of Segura & Associates, has over 45 years of experience in all segments of the cleaning industry. Ten of those years were spent overseeing the cleaning of over 4.5 million square feet for The Walt Disney Company, as well as the management of the Document Services department. With eleven years of consulting both domestic and internationally, Segura & Associates has been assisting organizations to perform at maximum efficiencies. Ron has assisted hundreds of organizations in the reengineering of their operations so that they are able to provide a high quality of service and still meet budgetary requirements.