Contributed by Allen Rathey, President, Winning Environments (WE), LLC

The word janitor stems from the Roman god Janus. Gifted with two faces one pointing each direction, Janus was the god of beginnings, gates, doorways, passages, frames, and endings.

Like this all-seeing god, the role of janitor is to act as a guardian inside facilities. Specifically, these professionals protect indoor health, but it is often limited by how janitors are viewed, how they view themselves, how society learns to view them, and, most importantly, how they are educated and trained.

Thats the first secret. The second is enabling evidence-based learning and training in cleaning for health (CFH) that is tied to business goals. For that, there's a lot to be learned from Jiffy Lube.

Greasing the Learning Skids

As cars have become more complex with diagnostic codes, synthetic lubricants and specialized service requirements, Jiffy Lube — with more than 2,000 outlets nationwide specializing in oil changes, tire rotation, brake repair, and other services — has committed to rigorous training and active learning strategies to meet the need.

How rigorous? Very: Technicians can work on a customer car until certified by Jiffy Lube University. This involves interactive learning through frequent mini-quizzes, spaced learning, rotation of topics, and rapid feedback to teach each service activity in as many as 30 steps. Once workers score 80 percent or better on an exam based on earlier quizzes, they can begin on-the-job training where they practice with a mentor, or active proctor. Jiffy Lube University has earned accreditation by the American Council on Education.

The result?

Jiffy Lube's integrated suite of educational courses is helping the company's franchisees win customers, reduce employee turnover, broaden their service offerings, and boost sales, as written in the book, Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning

Bottom-Line Benefits

The complex relationship between health, indoor spaces, and what is permitted in the air, on surfaces, and in people, plus ergonomic and financial issues, make research-based learning and training in cleaning for health equally if not more important than how automobiles are serviced.

This is further supported by 2022 statements by the American Journal of Industrial Medicine: "Workplace injuries for janitors come at sizeable costs to the worker and to society, with an estimated 4.1 billion dollars in medical and productivity costs annually in the United States."

Accidents aren't the only thing costing businesses. Absences from poor employee health can cripple budgets. According to ISSA's "Value of Clean", the average worker is sick 7.7 days every year, costing businesses roughly $226 billion. Unplanned absences lower productivity by 54 percent and sales and customer service by 39 percent.

Meanwhile, people working in a clean facility reduce their odds of catching a cold or flu by up to 80 percent, while lowering absenteeism by up to 46 percent. Workers are also up to 8 percent more productive when working in a clean environment, which may equate to savings of $125,000 annually.

Protecting workers can easily come in the form of creating healthy environments for them to work. According to a 2002 ASHRAE Journal piece titled How IEQ Affects Health, Productivity, preventing or removing allergenic, microbe-carrying, or chemical-laden dust from the indoor space can help protect health, lower costs and improve productivity in offices by billions of dollars annually.

Just as educational scope and career path makes all the difference for physicians and healthcare staff; it can have the same effect for the health stewardship related to cleaning. People must look at the cleaners role as professionals specializing in cleaning for health not as mop and vacuum pushers, trash collectors, errand runners, or chemical dispensers. This can be accomplished by framing the education and training of janitors differently. Enabling evidence-based cleaning for health through training methods already proven in business and academia has both health and business value that is enormous.

Allen P. Rathey is an educator specializing in Healthy Facilities. He has assembled an advisory group of scientists, PhDs, facility and public health experts who share his passion for helping people everywhere create and maintain safe, healthy indoor environments. He is past president of The Housekeeping Channel (HC), The Healthy House Institute (HHI), The Healthy Facilities Institute (HFI), and current Director of the Indoor Health Council (IHC). He is the principal of Winning Environments, LLC, promoting best practices that enhance the living, working, and learning environment. Visit for more information.