Empowering Custodians with Technology
Custodians are the unsung guardians of public health, working day and night to keep facilities clean, comfortable and safe. It's not an easy job. The work is dirty, demanding and often dangerous. Pay is low. Turnover high.
And then there's the stigma. Despite its importance, custodial work is often viewed as dirty, low status and less valuable than other career paths. As a result, custodial workers often feel invisible, deprived of "intrinsic rewards such as job satisfaction, engagement and opportunity for career advancement" according to a study in the Journal of Vocational Behavior.
It's a paradox. Custodial work is vital. The demand for workers is high and projected to grow 12 percent through 2022 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Yet these workers don't feel empowered, recognized or appreciated.
Luckily, there are ways, including new technologies, to empower custodial workers and boost morale, job satisfaction and retention.
Cleaning Technology Overcomes Workplace Dangers
Since the invention of the powered vacuum in 1901, technology has made cleaning easier and more dignified. Yet, in some ways, the industry remains caught in the middle ages. Mops, buckets and rags are still all too common and too hard to use. All of that repetitive bending, twisting, scrubbing, reaching and lifting leads to strains, back and shoulder injuries and other musculoskeletal ills that can lead to life long pain.
There are other plenty of dangers lurking in the industry as well. Workers can slip and fall on wet floors. They can be injured by the improper use of cleaning chemicals. Or they can actually contract the pathogen they were sent in to clean. (Don't believe it? Check out this harrowing tale of a professional custodian coming down with hepatitis A after using mops and rags to clean a daycare bathroom.)
New technologies, like the Kaivac No-Touch Systems, can take all of this risk out of custodial work. Designed to completely remove dirt, germs and other pathogens the technology is:
- Ergonomic: No bending, twisting, scrubbing or lifting means less chance of injury.
- Easy: Automatically diluted cleaning solution reduces chemical exposure risks.
- Complete: The machine leaves floors clean, dry and safe to walk on.
And using the right technology can actually make the job "cool" according to Sherriff James Mendrick of DuPage County jail. He recently instituted a custodial certification program at the facility where inmates train on a Kaivac No-Touch System. "No one enjoys getting on their hands and knees to clean a toilet," he says. "But when you don't have to touch anything and you get to use these big cool toys, well…the inmates are proud to be doing this. It's cool."
On-the-Job Training Means Workers are Valued
Training makes employees feel important, respected and invest in. That feeling is valuable, almost as valuable as their salary. "People no longer work just for the paycheck," according to Janitorial Manager. "They work to feel a sense of accomplishment and purpose." Training, and the mastery that comes with it, goes a long way building custodian accomplishment, purpose and empowerment.
On the flip side training can be a hassle for both the employee and the employer.
Not every worker will be a proficient English speaker and a classroom setting can be daunting for someone who doesn't learn well through traditional books and lectures. Designing appropriate training can be so complicated, time consuming and expensive that employers often skip it and hope for the best.
The KaiTutor onboard training system removes those barriers helping employees build skills for improved performance, productivity and pride.
Mounted directly on the cleaning system, the KaiTutor delivers clear instructions via video. Workers watch expert demonstrations, pause the video and practice in real time. The method improves information retention and mastery while clear visual instruction removes any language barrier.
Workers feel self-reliant, productive and empowered.
Don't Forget Your Soft Skills
Technology goes a long way in making cleaning staff feel competent, trained and empowered. But there's other ways too. Cleaning Business Today list a few like rewarding good performance, sharing customer feedback and making work fun.
Also be sure to celebrate Custodian Appreciation Day every October 2.
Your empowered staff will thank you.
Click here for more ways to keep your workers happy, healthy and productive.
Get detailed information about how Kaivac helps you clean better and faster:
Amy Milshtein covers design, facility management and business topics for a variety of trade publications and consumer magazines.
Her work has won several awards, most recently a regional silver Azbee Award of Excellence.
She lives in Portland, OR with her family and Clyde, a 15-lb tabby cat. Once an avid hiker, these days she finds herself on the less-challenging -but-still-exciting 'creaky knees' trails.