Dan Weltin

Recently I had the privilege of presenting at the Simon Institute Symposium to share data from our “Cleaning Costs And Frequencies Report.” In addition to this research, the event featured excellent information about training, workloading and janitor empowerment.

When you think about it, each janitor affects hundreds, if not thousands, of people. A properly trained janitor keeps a building’s occupants healthy and influences the impressions of countless visitors. As one of the Simon Institute’s founders, the late John Walker, was fond of saying, “The difference between a ruin and a building in use is the janitor.”

Instilling the right attitude into janitors starts with their trainer. A good supervisor and/or trainer is essential to creating a cleaning staff that takes pride in its work. Every crew is busy, but supervisors can’t just throw new employees “into the fire” with a set of keys and a clueless attitude.

Instead, trainers should go slow and take enough time to teach the correct and safe way to clean. Whenever possible, explain why things are done a certain way. Also remember that new janitors are going to make mistakes, so supervisors need to be patient and supportive.

Training should be more than reading through a company handbook or PowerPoint presentation. The best trainers have passion, show emotion and make training interactive with videos and fun activities. After the initial training session, make materials accessible so employees can go back and review the lessons on their own and at their own pace.

Good training is the first step to empowerment, but the process is ongoing. Continually recognize janitors who excel in their work — people are motivated by their achievements, not their money. A good trainer is not just a good teacher; they are a motivator. Trainers who care about their staff will increase the dignity of their workers, which in turn, improves cleaning quality and productivity.