Even though a BSC may not control everything a building does to improve its indoor air quality (IAQ) program, they do have the ability to help ensure the air in a client’s building is as healthy for the occupants and cleaners as possible.

Cleaning should be looked at as the primary means of creating a healthy indoor environment. Plus, good IAQ is good business. BSCs can use emerging research relating indoor air quality with worker productivity and reduced absenteeism to win new accounts and communicate with clients about new initiatives.

Richard Shaughnessy, a researcher at The University of Tulsa, Oklahoma, has studied the effects of IAQ on health and productivity levels in building occupants for many years.

“Many shortcuts that compromise indoor air quality in the end can add up to many more problems related to the health of the workers,” says Shaughnessy.

Cost saving measures, such as reducing training or reducing cleaning frequencies, will often lead to IAQ sacrifices that — in the long term — will cost more money for both the BSC and client.

“These sacrifices will create a bigger problem that impacts the bottom line,” says Shaughnessy.

He recommends that any IAQ program include three elements: filtration, source control and air cleaning. Current research takes a close look at the productivity of students and workers in buildings as related to IAQ.

BSCs are tasked with removing contamination that can become airborne. Making the connection between physical cleaning and the productivity levels of those who work or visit clean facilities is the key to conveying value to clients. When a workforce is healthy, engaged and productive, the task becomes that much easier. Health and wellness should be the priority at every level of any contract cleaning business, and it all pays off in the end.

Dave Thompson, director of the Academy of Cleaning Excellence, frequently presents on employee morale in the contract cleaning setting. He stresses the importance of showing appreciation to frontline janitors.

“People leave their jobs because they aren’t appreciated,” says Thompson. “They don’t leave for money. If we focus on the traits that make our workers standout janitors, we motivate them and make their morale better.”

As for business owners, it is imperative to protect public health and the health and safety of janitorial workers. In the short term, there are productivity gains to safe and healthy staff. In the long term, creating an environment that demonstrates care for janitors has shown to improve worker engagement and retention.

As lessons are learned from the current pandemic, the health initiatives currently in place to protect workers will become a differentiator for businesses in the future. Focusing on the wellbeing and health of workers will keep them engaged in their work, reduce turnover rates and become the strength of any great business model that will attract new customers — allowing business owners to plan for the future rather than rushing to catch up.

Nicole Bowman is a freelance writer based in Philadelphia.

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