When custodial executives see an increase in workload and no additional resources provided, there seems to be an industry-wide understanding that the job still gets done, without interruption. When presented with this situation, mangers are forced to readjust their attitude and figure out new ways to complete tasks.

Many managers embrace a motto once expressed by Theodore Roosevelt: “Whenever you are asked if you can do a job, tell 'em, 'Certainly I can!' Then get busy and find out how to do it.”

These words definitely ring true in most facilities and services groups, especially the cleaning department.

All of us who have managed in-house staffs have, at some point, asked, “How am I going to get this job done without additional help or resources?” How do you respond to your staff when they say, “There is no way that we can take on any more work?” What do you do when you know your staff is not working as productive as they are capable of working?

Let us discuss some ways that we can increase productivity and meet the demands of our internal customers.

Scrutinize Staffing

One of the most important things that the head of the department needs to know is the workload of each staff member. Invariably you will find a staff member who is at maximum level. You will also find those staff members that aren’t, but still tell you, “I need more time!”

What can you do as a manager to address these situations? Here’s how I would handle it.

When I was at Disney, I had a janitor that was responsible for cleaning 21 restrooms every night. One day he came to me and expressed that he was overloaded and there was no way that he could clean all his restrooms during his assigned shift.

Upon hearing this, I had a choice to make. I could tell him that we pay him to clean all the assigned restrooms and that if he did not want the job he could quit. I could have also referred him back to his direct supervisor to have him deal with the issue. Or, I could get to the bottom of the situation and make sure I knew what was going on within my department.

I decided on option number three.

First, I informed the janitor that his supervisor and I would meet him 15 minutes prior to the start of his next shift. We then went with him to each restroom and asked that he provide the amount of time it took to clean each individual area. At the end of the survey we added up the time and told him that we would use that information to determine whether additional help would be needed.

It is important to keep in mind that our staff was paid for eight hours of work. But, in reality, the average janitor was working roughly seven hours a night. That’s why it was no surprise when at the end of the survey, we figured that the total time — including moving from one location to the other — came to six hours and twenty minutes.

I thanked him for the good work he was doing and for taking the time to walk his supervisor and I through his schedule.

Lessons Learned

Situations like the one listed earlier can be fantastic learning opportunities for everyone involved.

First: When staff comes to you and informs you that they do not have enough time, listen to them and go to their assigned area and have them break down the time it takes to do the individual tasks. Sometimes the only thing they need is to vent and feel that management listens to their concerns.

In the example I gave, I discovered that the janitors working to clean the offices in that same area were telling this worker that he had too much work.

Second: Involving the direct supervisor was a training opportunity. In this case, the supervisor was the one to direct this janitor to me because he wasn’t sure how to respond to the concern. By involving both parties, I was able to address the staff concern and demonstrate how I wanted supervisors to respond to these types of situations.

Always include the direct supervisor in these situations because you do not want to usurp his authority.

Third: All of the staff became aware of how this situation was handled. As a result, we saw a reduction in complaints regarding too much work and not enough time.

Fourth: It is important for management to be aware of the actual amount of time each staff member spends on cleaning tasks throughout their assigned shift. This information will be important when responding to employee complaints.

next page of this article:
Workloading And Productivity From Products