Backpack vacuums
Teach all staff the correct way to position their vacuums on their backs. A backpack vacuum is comfortable if the straps are adjusted properly, and the waist belt is positioned correctly. Most vacuum manufacturers have colorful posters with graphics showing how the equipment should be worn. If employees feel comfortable wearing the vacuums, productivity will increase, and they also will experience less fatigue and injury.

In addition, explain the importance of good posture and the correct techniques for vacuuming high, medium and low surfaces. Train workers on the proper way to hold the wand comfortably so there is no stress on the arms. Workers should move the wand side to side, as if using a hockey stick.

Also, teach employees how to properly take tools out of the backpack waist belt. If not done properly, this can seem cumbersome. Be sure to have employees put together, then take apart, all of the attachments and wands so that they will feel comfortable using them.

Upright vacuums
Teach new employees to inspect the cords first for safety reasons. Unfortunately, upright vacuum cords take a great deal of abuse from misuse and improper training. Once the cords are inspected, teach the employees to throw the cord over the shoulder opposite the vacuuming hand. Then, instruct them to keep the cord by them at all times by grasping the cord with the hand at their side and flinging back as they vacuum backwards. This motion is similar to that of a lion tamer cracking a whip.

Most people vacuum incorrectly. The majority of workers vacuum haphazardly, going forward and back in short strokes, making a zig-zag pattern. This can be hard on the elbow, wrist and joints; plus, there is no organized approach, which decreases productivity.

Instead, teach employees to hold the handle comfortably at their side. Then they need to walk the length of the vacuum area in a long "corn row," step one vacuum width to the side and vacuum backwards. When doing this, they should lift the cord up and fling the excess amount backwards and out of their way so their feet don’t get tangled. This also prevents running over that cord. Quality vacuuming in "corn rows" leaves a professional appearance on the carpet that many customers consider as a sign of a clean carpet. This technique also leaves the worker less fatigued because the arm stays in a comfortable position. The cord is protected and productivity increases because there is a more efficient traffic pattern of movement throughout the rooms.

Just implementing these simple techniques into your current training program can yield huge results for management and staff alike.

Laura Dellutri, owner of America’s Cleaning Connection, is an industry veteran who has helped many housekeeping departments improve their cleaning efficiencies and ergonomics.