October Cleaning Tip:
By Mike Schaffer - President, Tornado Industries
They’re a Couple
Many facility managers and building service contractors (BSCs) must deal with unusually high rates of employee turnover. At one time, it was estimated the turnover in the professional cleaning industry was as high as 300 percent in some areas of the country. That means a facility manager/BSC may have to replace workers performing the same jobs at the same locations as often as three times per year.
Because the turnover is so heavy, managers and BSCs try to train their new workers and then put them to work as quickly as possible. This is necessary because the facility is shorthanded, and the belief is that if the training has been adequate, cleaning workers will learn whatever more they need to know while on the job. This is often referred to as “learning by doing” and is a teaching concept in place in many industries.
Many experts encourage this system and believe that the sooner workers are performing their duties, the more effective they will be. However, some experts, as well as managers and BSCs, are reconsidering this method. Yes, they want—and need—new workers performing cleaning tasks as soon as possible. But instead of rushing new workers to work on their own, they are coupling them with experienced workers—often termed primary workers—for a set period of time.
A good example of this is at Mason General Hospital in Shelton, Washington, a critical-care hospital. All new cleaning workers are first taught cleaning duties in a classroom setting. They then work with their trainers, putting the techniques and procedures they have been taught in the classroom into practice.
Once the trainers are satisfied that new workers know the basics, they are coupled with primary workers. The coupling may be as short as a week or as long as a month. The goal is to make sure the new cleaning workers not only know how to perform their cleaning tasks but can perform them efficiently and effectively.
And the coupling does not end there. At Mason General, if one cleaning worker seems to get more complaints than usual, that person is recoupled with a primary worker. Hospital administrators say the system works well and has resulted in fewer complaints from staff and patients as well as declining cleaning worker turnover.