At your office or place of work there is undoubtedly a small group of people who are responsible for cleaning the building, emptying the trash, and tidying up. They may be employed by your company or they may be employed by an outsourced professional cleaning service, but either way I am suggesting that we all think differently about their job. I am recommending that we stop thinking that the beneficiaries of the work of “janitors,” “custodians,” or “cleaning crews” are solely the buildings they clean and by extension the image of the companies who occupy the buildings. While it is true that this necessary work does extend the life of buildings and that it does indeed reflect positively on the companies whose signs hang on them (for example who of us does not judge a restaurant by its cleanliness or lack thereof), this is secondary to the primary benefit of proper cleaning.
What is more important? The health of the people who work in those buildings or for whatever reason spend time inside it – including those cleaning people themselves. Full disclosure: I am the owner of a professional commercial cleaning service. The first thing we go over with new hires as part of their orientation before they begin working for our company is that they will be guardians of the public health, that their work will impact every person inside the building in which they work. When I am personally involved in the orientation process I like to compare the environmental services department at any hospital to the medical staff of doctors and nurses; all are necessary for the saving of lives in that facility, but without cleaning, the doctors and nurses would be fighting a losing battle against dangerous microbes, resulting in many casualties. Cleaning saves lives and protects health. How does that benefit the business owner? A quick Google search yielded this information about the cost of absenteeism in the workplace – according to Absenteeism: The Bottom Line Killer published by Circadian, “unscheduled absenteeism costs roughly $3600 per year for each hourly worker and $2650 each year for salaried employees.” How would you like to dramatically lower those numbers by properly removing and/or killing the virus and bacteria that causes much of the absenteeism? Yes, many people get sick at work and much of it is preventable.
Here is where the change in thinking begins. As we appreciate the important health benefits and the bottom line benefits that go along with them, the value of cleaning becomes apparent. Interesting side note: the ISSA has published this infographic that contains much related material on this topic. http://www.securecleanbsi.com/value-of-clean/. I recommend clicking the link.
If we agree that cleaning has much more value than we may have acknowledged in the past, can we not also agree that it should be viewed as an investment rather than as an indirect cost? Is it possible that seeking out the absolutely lowest cost way to clean our building may not yield the results that we and our workers deserve? Is it also possible that dollars can be saved by reducing absences and improving productivity through the use of proper disinfectants and machines that remove the germs rather than moving them around? This is a different way to think about cleaning – are you ready to think differently?