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Crafting Success: The Essential Guide to Building and Implementing an Effective Facility Cleaning Plan

Managing a facility without a plan is like setting sail on a ship without a navigation chart. Imagine a captain embarking on a journey across vast, unpredictable seas with no predetermined route or destination. In this scenario, the captain does not understand the waters ahead, their potential challenges, and the optimal path to reach their goals.


Similarly, a well-thought-out plan serves as the navigational chart for success in facility management. Without it, managers are left to blindly navigate the complexities of daily operations, encountering unforeseen obstacles and making impromptu decisions that may lead the facility astray. Just as a ship without a plan is at the mercy of unpredictable currents and storms, a facility without a management plan is susceptible to chaos, inefficiency, and a lack of direction.

In this article, we will talk about the major steps required to build your plan and where to find resources so you're not on this journey alone.

The Benefits of a Comprehensive Cleaning Program

Clean facilities improve occupant satisfaction. In one study, 92 percent of consumer respondents considered cleanliness a factor when deciding to become a repeat customer. Another study found a strong link between clean facilities and employee satisfaction. In the International Sanitary Supply Association (ISSA) 2021 report, "The Value Of Clean," they identify a variety of benefits associated with good cleaning programs:

  • An overall improvement in occupant wellness and a healthy environment. These benefits include reduced absenteeism, improved productivity, reduced illness outbreaks, and enhanced indoor air quality.
  • The preservation of building assets. Good cleaning procedures extend the life of flooring and furniture.
  • An improvement in energy efficiency and sustainability. Proper cleaning removes dust and contaminants from HVAC equipment and lighting fixtures, improving energy efficiency.

The full report on The Value Of Clean is available to ISSA members.

Do I need a Facility Cleaning Plan if I'm Outsourcing?

Absolutely, yes. One of the major sources of dissatisfaction with a commercial cleaning outsourcing decision occurs when the results don't match your expectations. When that happens, you contact your building service contractor only to be told that what you want is outside the scope of your current agreement. Why did this happen? Is the BSC underperforming? Was the cleaning company dishonest in their quote?

Probably not. The likely cause is a communication error. You described what you wanted, and the commercial cleaning company quoted and delivered the service. The results, however, didn't match your expectations. The root cause of this problem is that you didn't fully understand the scope of work required to deliver the desired results. A facility cleaning plan solves this problem, giving you a roadmap of communication to use with your contractor to ensure you're getting exactly what you need. With this in hand, you can specify the products you want the contractor to use and how often.

Step One: Determine How Clean Your Facility Should Be

Determining what it means to be clean is a key step in planning because it defines the required processes, staffing, and products. Depending on your type of facility, "clean" can have many meanings. What seems clean enough in an office setting probably wouldn't be good enough in some healthcare or food processing settings. There can even be multiple definitions of clean within the same facility.

The Association of Physical Plant Administrators (APPA) has a helpful scale to determine cleaning levels. The scale ranges from the cleanest level, Level 1 - Orderly Spotlessness, to the dirtiest level, Level 5 - Unkempt Neglect. For most facilities, the right level of cleaning is somewhere between two and three on this scale. To read more about this scale, see this link.

Step Two: Create a Basic Facility Cleaning Plan

To create a basic facility plan, you must take a systematic approach to identifying all the areas that require cleaning and then determine the tasks required to clean those areas.

For each area, be sure to document these features:

  • The size of the area in square feet
  • The type of flooring
  • The number of fixtures, like sinks, showers, and toilets.
  • The number of pieces of furniture that require cleaning, like tables or desks.

Once you've identified all the areas to be cleaned, assign cleaning tasks to each area.

For each cleaning task, be sure to identify:

  • The amount of area to be cleaned. Some cleaning tasks are measured by the square footage cleaned, and others are measured by the quantity of items to be cleaned.
  • The frequency of the task. Some tasks should be done daily, others weekly, monthly, or quarterly. The frequency of cleaning is a major factor in determining your level of cleanliness.

The ISSA has a resource, The Official ISSA Cleaning Times, which contains valuable data regarding cleaning times and workloading. With this data, you can calculate the time required to complete each task in your basic plan. Calculating the total time required to complete your cleaning plan is the first step in determining the number of custodians required to maintain your facilities.

Step Three: Optimize your Cleaning Program

Once you've determined the custodians required in step two, you may find that you don't have enough employees. Something has to change to have a successful cleaning program. You might need to hire more staff, reduce expectations, eliminate some tasks, or change your cleaning procedures to improve labor efficiency.

Unless you're an expert in professional cleaning techniques, you may need some help during this step. Your local janitorial supply distributor can be a valuable resource. A good distributor can explain your options and suggest efficiency improvements.

Side note: During this step, you might need to calculate the return on investment for an equipment purchase. See the article Justifying Your Next Cleaning Machine Purchase for more insights.


Step Four: Balance the Workload for Your Cleaning Plan

Knowing how much cleaning labor you need is a big step in the right direction. However, you must assign those tasks to specific employees to implement the plan successfully. Failing to balance workloads can lead to numerous problems within your organization, many of which will include trips to the human resource office.

Here are some of the problems that unbalanced workloads can cause:

  • Increased employee turnover
  • Increased injuries and worker's compensation related to work assignments
  • Poor employee reviews and evaluations
  • Increased number of grievances
  • Decreased employee morale and performance

Fortunately, there is workloading software used in the cleaning industry that can help you with this process. As you work through this step, remember that your custodians often have other responsibilities besides cleaning. Those need to be accounted for in your workloading analysis. You will also want to ensure that you develop alternative cleaning plans to use when employees are absent or on vacation.

Step Five: Documentation and Training

Once the workloads are balanced, the next step is to document your work assignments. Documenting janitorial work and providing effective training for janitors are essential to maintaining cleanliness and efficiency in facilities.

To ensure safe and thorough cleaning, your work instructions should encompass a range of features that address both the cleaning staff's well-being and the cleaning process's effectiveness. Here are key features that should be included in your work instructions:

  • Safety Protocols: Clearly outline safety procedures for cleaning tasks. This includes guidelines for handling cleaning chemicals, operating equipment, and addressing potential hazards. Emphasize the importance of wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) and provide details on emergency response protocols.
  • Equipment Usage Guidelines: Detail instructions on correctly using cleaning equipment and machinery. Include information on regular maintenance checks, proper storage, and specific precautions. Properly maintained equipment ensures efficient cleaning and reduces the risk of accidents.
  • Work Area Boundaries: Clearly define the boundaries of the areas to be cleaned.
  • Task Scope and Frequency: Clearly define what tasks must be done and how often.

Well-written work instructions will simplify your training process and reduce the required training. They are an essential tool when coaching new employees.

Step Six: Implement a Quality Control Process and Periodic System Review

Cleaning programs often fail when the quality control inspection process doesn't identify problems soon enough to prevent occupant complaints. To prevent this failure, we recommend a rigorous inspection program. A good quality control inspection process ensures consistent cleaning performance and the timely identification of issues. Once an issue is identified, document the problem and the corrective action required, including a target completion date. Following up on corrective actions to ensure they were effective is critical to the inspection process. To simplify this task, some companies offer software that will allow you to create inspection checklists, make schedules, and record results from your mobile devices.

You should plan on reviewing your entire cleaning program once per year. During this review, you can identify areas for improvement, adjust workloads to help balance your staffing assignments, and budget for new equipment and supplies. Your cleaning program scope can change periodically depending on how the facility usage evolves.

Let Hillyard Help Develop and Maintain Your Cleaning Program with Envirologix

Creating a top-notch cleaning program poses challenges, but the good news is that you don't have to navigate this complex task alone. With the support of Hillyard's Envirologix program, you gain access to a dedicated team of analysts ready to assist you. Envirologix stands as a valuable ally in crafting a thorough plan tailored to maintain your facilities effectively.

What is Envirologix?

Envirologix is a service provided by Hillyard that combines our experience, our proprietary database of over one billion square feet of building surveys, and industry standards from the ISSA, APPA, the CDC, and more to deliver powerful insights into your cleaning program. First, a team of Hillyard cleaning experts analyzes your facilities to determine the processes, equipment, and staffing required to deliver your desired cleaning results. Next, they provide a plan to optimize your labor by improving your cleaning processes and equipment.

With Envirologix, you can:

  • Measure the labor required to clean your facilities.
  • Understand the changes you need to make to achieve your desired results.
  • Determine how to allocate labor by building.
  • Discover how to staff for weekends and special events.
  • Determine when and how you should outsource your cleaning tasks.
  • Generate custodial work instruction manuals for general responsibilities.
  • Create job cards for custodians to guide them through their shift.
  • Create, schedule, and record quality control inspections.

Go Beyond Envirolgix with Envirologix+FTE

Envirologix+FTE is a groundbreaking enhancement to the Envirologix program, offering a sophisticated and streamlined approach to facility management. This expansion is specifically designed to address the intricate challenges associated with managing cleaning staff and ensuring the efficient allocation of responsibilities. At its core, Envirologix+FTE provides a comprehensive solution by integrating detailed workloading strategies and custom work instructions tailored to each cleaning staff position within your organization.

One of the primary objectives of Envirologix+FTE is to eliminate the common issues related to uneven workloads. Unequal task distribution can lead to problems within an organization, ranging from increased turnover and injuries to decreased morale and performance. By leveraging Envirologix+FTE, facility managers can implement a fair and well-defined system of work assignments, ensuring that every member of the cleaning staff is allocated tasks in a manner that aligns with their capabilities and the overall goals of the facility.

Getting Started with Envirologix

Envirologix has become a trusted solution embraced by a broad spectrum of institutions, including K-12 schools, universities, and long-term healthcare facilities throughout the United States. Its versatile application across these varied environments underscores its adaptability and effectiveness in meeting the unique challenges posed by these settings.

Start your journey with the Envirologix program by contacting your local Hillyard representative. Both Envirologix and Envirologix+FTE are premium services provided by Hillyard. In many instances, we will waive some of the cost for customers who purchase a significant portion of their cleaning supplies from Hillyard. Connect with your local Hillyard representative for a detailed discussion on the advantages of Envirologix and to determine whether you qualify for a discounted rate on the Envirologix program.

DISCLAIMER:  Specifications are subject to change without notice. Examples and recommendations in this article may not apply to every situation. This information is provided on an “as is” basis and does not supersede any other documentation. Always follow the instructions as written on the product label.

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