Ada BaldwinAda Baldwin
Director for University Housekeeping
North Carolina State University
Raleigh, North Carolina

Babette BeeneBabette Beene
Environmental Services Manager
University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
Houston, Texas

Michael JonesMichael Jones
Director of Custodial Services
Columbia Public Schools
Columbia, Missouri

Karie KingKarie King
Manager Environmental Services
Aurora BayCare Medical Center
Green Bay, Wisconsin

Gene WoodardGene Woodard
Director of Building Services
University of Washington
Seattle, Washington

Surveys indicate that restrooms are the most challenging areas of the facility to keep clean. How do you tackle restrooms and other problem areas?

Baldwin — One of the best methods we use to tackle maintaining clean restrooms is to routinely schedule the use of the Kaivac. It works wonders.

Beene — We have found that frequency is key to these problem areas. Currently, we're rounding public restrooms every two hours. Staff will check supply stock and re-clean where necessary.

Jones — For K-12, restrooms are used all day, but there are high peaks and evening events requiring restrooms to be cleaned or monitored more frequently. This really comes down to proper training and making sure staff understands the importance of restrooms cleanliness. You can send an email to staff on a regular basis but random inspections by supervisors during peak times helps you see the actual conditions. Then you can thank the staff when the space is clean and, when it's not, stress the importance of clean.

King — We have our restrooms on a schedule. Our main public restrooms are serviced five times a day. We work around peak hours so they are cleaned right before or right after the rush of breakfast, lunch and dinner. We ensure we clean everything all five times, and our team is also trained that if they use the restroom and it appears to have a mess on the counter from washing hands, or paper toweling on the floor to pick it up and make the restroom look presentable.

Woodard — We take a multi-prong approach to reduce complaints from restrooms — training, retraining and then more training. Most complaints are the result of empty dispensers, so we train on the importance of making sure restroom dispensers are working properly and have the capacity for the amount of traffic the restroom receives. A few years ago we developed a special project crew of maintenance custodians who are able to immediately fix or replace broken or malfunctioning dispensers.

I also recommend establishing deep-cleaning schedules that are directly correlated to the amount of use the restroom receives. This could range from monthly to quarterly. We have goals for the number of restrooms deep cleaned each quarter. We maintain metrics and report out each quarter on whether or not we achieved our goal. Front-line workers are very complaint and know which restrooms need to be checked throughout the day.

According to our reader survey, 60% of managers struggle with employee absenteeism (and not enough staff to make up for the shortage). What successes have you had in keeping front-line staff accountable?

Beene — We award our staff by giving them four hours of recognition leave every six months if they have perfect attendance. We also cross-train our housekeepers to be able to work in all areas, especially our critical areas.

Jones — I cannot say we have succeeded in absenteeism. We have added floaters and substitutes to help resolve some of our shortages. I do monitor employee absences and visit with those in person to discuss their excessive use of benefits and remaining balances. Normally, they do not realize they have used so much time and are unaware of their remaining balance for time off or if they are unable to work due to unforeseen circumstances.

King — We have a great program that outlines a schedule for one full year. This way our team members can schedule their time for appointments, since they know when they are working. We also have a great trade program, which allows team members the ability to trade a day with another person. This way they do not have to use vacation time or have an unscheduled occurrence.

Woodard — We recognize team members who had the good fortune and determination to have outstanding attendance during our annual recognition event. At UW, and I am sure at other public or state facilities, all employees have entitlements which include sick leave, FMLA, vacation and bereavement leave, which makes it very difficult to truly hold frontline staff accountable until they no longer have any leave balance on the books. We have been averaging 14 percent absenteeism as a result of managing the number of people from a work unit who are granted vacation leave. Frontline workers on day shift tend to have better attendance than their counterparts on evening or night shift. We used to average close to 20 percent absenteeism. The combination of incentives and recognition, along with having a minimum staffing level for vacation approvals may offer some relief.

previous page of this article:
Managers Conquer Departmental Challenges
next page of this article:
Recommendations For Staffing And Recruiting Custodians