Janitors work hard to provide a clean, safe restroom environment for users. Frequently touched objects (FTOs) are cleaned regularly, odor problems are addressed immediately and general appearance is at the top of their priority list. 

Sadly, this hard work is readily overlooked when a waste receptacle overflows, a towel dispenser is empty, toilet tissue is not available or soap is not refilled.

Janitors spend their time and effort cleaning FTOs throughout the facility to help reduce illness. However, people cannot be expected to practice good hand hygiene if building service contractors do not provide the supplies needed for hand washing.

In addition, empty dispensers are a major cause of complaints and at times, even vandalism.

A lack of resupply may be due to disengaged janitors. According to Gallup, one-third of employees are considered “disengaged.” Effective employee engagement can help accomplish many goals: improve employee retention, improve productivity, reduce absenteeism and reduce complaints.

Supervisors are in a position to improve janitor’s diligence regarding refilling dispensers, emptying trash and other cleaning tasks. Improving employee engagement is not easy, but there are some simple steps supervisors can take to make a difference.

• Continuously improve listening skills. Supervisors should be good listeners. Janitors will pay closer attention to those that pay attention to them.

• Training promotes engagement. Janitors will focus on resupply when they know not only how to refill dispensers, but more importantly why they need to be refilled. When janitors understand the importance of hand hygiene, they will also understand that a lack of soap and towels can discourage hand washing and ultimately spread germs. When toilet tissue runs out, let janitors know they will likely receive immediate complaints from occupants. And instruct janitors that overflowing waste receptacles create an instant negative impression of the facility and janitorial staff. Remind janitors that first impressions matter, so leaving a good one is important.

• Job cards and logs. One handy tool that can ensure tasks are completed is a job card. Employees simply fill in an “X” for each task. Another is a daily log that requires a checkmark or initials for each task completed. Janitors should write their name on the form and sign it. A customizable job card is available here. After printing, get it laminated for reuse.

Supervisors can only do so much to help janitors. In the end, it’s up to the janitor to remember to refill dispensers. Teach them to break restroom cleaning down into two functions: cleaning and resupply. Then, break resupply down into four steps: Tissue, Towels, Trash and Soap (TTTS). As janitors walk out the door, have them look back and perform a Quality Assurance check: fragrance, appearance and TTTS. It will help cut down on mistakes.

Skip Seal is a trainer and consultant with more than 30 years management experience in the cleaning industry. He is a LEED Accredited Professional and a Cleaning Industry Management Standard (CIMS) ISSA Certification Expert (I.C.E.). Seal and his team offer support across the country with sales and operation analysis, new market penetration, and sales training. He can be reached at skip@seal-360.com.

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