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To say facility cleaning managers have been through a whirlwind of changing expectations and challenges over the past three years is an understatement. Be it shifting preferences from occupants, expiring pandemic-related protocols, or readjusting the way facilities are laid out to better account for new hybrid setups, half the battle is keeping up with the latest trends. From hiring staff to prioritizing facility challenges, keeping up with a perpetually shifting industry is never easy. The primary goal of the “2023 Facility Cleaning Decisions Management Survey” is to help guide these important decisions with statistics and trends — done so by asking cleaning managers directly about such topics.  

When questioned on their top management priorities for the year ahead, facility cleaning managers pointed towards hiring and retention efforts — with the top two categories being “hiring/maintaining a quality staff” at 55 percent and “increasing staff” at 50 percent. This comes as little surprise as the current hiring market continues to give employees leverage over the employers who are desperate to fill long-time vacancies.  

Other notable results regarding priorities are the number of managers keen on improving their own craft, as 43 percent plan to emphasize more management training for themselves, a big jump from only 29 percent in 2022. This makes sense from a manager’s perspective, as they believe if they have a better grasp on how to motivate and keep employees happy, those hiring challenges will diminish as well.  

Perhaps the most interesting shift is how green cleaning and sustainable initiatives lagged behind other management priorities in 2023. Emphasizing sustainability as a top priority was reported by just 17 percent of facility cleaning managers, down from 33 percent in 2022 when building occupants were more focused on the push for environmental and social improvements.   

As it pertains to priorities specific to facility cleaning and management, some notable and surprising shakeups were revealed for 2023. The largest drops included the importance placed on “preventing cross-contamination,” which came in at only 23 percent (down from 49 percent) and “improving hygiene/health,” totaling 42 percent (down from 56 percent in 2022 when the pandemic was still raging on).  

Even though May 2023 marked the end of the Federal COVID-19 Public Health Emergency, and statistics suggest otherwise, facility cleaning managers still place a premium on healthy facilities. It’s just that other priorities have instead taken charge.  

This survey showed a resurgence in “improving facility appearance” — prioritized by only 34 percent of managers in 2022 and a whopping 50 percent of managers this year. This is likely a response to shifting preferences from building occupants and their insistence on seeing the results of cleaning and hygienic practices as they re-enter commercial spaces.  

Facility occupant demand is also the likely reason for a second priority jump. Public awareness of virus transmission through the air is most likely the driving factor for facility executives prioritizing “improving indoor air quality”, which rose 10 percentage points since last year to 28 percent. The combination of these rising and falling initiatives speaks more to the growing public awareness of commercial cleaning, as occupants become more critical of public facilities.   

The industry is experiencing rapid change, and keeping up with pertinent information has managers branching out. In 2023, there was an interesting shift away from consulting distributors on top trends. While working with distribution partners was still the top source for facility cleaning managers when it came to all categories — including price comparisons/discounts, value-added services and product training or certifications — there was a downward trend in percentage points. The largest drop came from managers turning to distributors for price comparisons or discount information (down from 70 percent in 2022 to 51 percent this year).  

Meanwhile, it appears that more managers are turning to the internet as the go-to source for industry information, especially when it comes to product updates and certifications — which saw a 10-percentage point bump up to 32 percent in total. This doesn’t mean the web will overtake distributors as the top information source anytime soon, but it’s certainly a trend to keep an eye on as technology evolves.  

These are just a few of the eye-popping takeaways from the “2023 Facility Cleaning Decisions Management Study”. Check out the graphs below highlighting over 30 questions worth of insights and trends that facility cleaning managers can utilize to better manage and clean the facilities under their umbrella.   

To compare this 2023 survey with results from previous years, click here.

James DeGraff, senior associate editor, has spent four years creating and overseeing content for Facility Cleaning Decisions, Contracting Profits and Sanitary Maintenance magazines, as well as CleanLink.com. 

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Cleaning Executives Provide Insight on Top Management Priorities