September is here, and with it the start of another academic year. For cleaning professionals that work in higher education facilities, summer project cleaning is over just in time for a new class of students to move into dorms and fill classrooms and libraries. If you are charged with keeping a campus clean, your team is responsible for the health and welfare of each student, faculty member, and staff member in what could be dozens of buildings spread over miles of campus. Use the following tips to start this academic year off on the right foot and keep facilities clean year-round.
1. Get Organized
Most higher education facilities have multiple buildings that are used for a variety of purposes. From dormitories, to classrooms, to theater spaces, each building will have its own specific needs when it comes to cleaning. Facility managers juggle a host of responsibilities: organizing a large staff, reducing costs, improving efficiency, promoting safety, and more. To keep up with the demand, workload the facility in a way that sets cleaners up for success. Cleaning Maintenance and Management offers tips for organizing your custodial staff, starting with asking yourself the question, “What is the purpose or mission of our custodial department?” Once you’ve established your goal, consider these 5 metrics or key performance indicators (KPIs):
- Appearance metrics
- Customer satisfaction metrics
- Fiscal metrics
- Sanitizing metrics
- Health metrics
You can then put a system in place that helps you meet all these metrics. Put a plan in place early for peace of mind throughout the rest of the year.
An organized and well-trained team will set you up for success.
2. Train Your Team
At the start of each academic year, make sure to set some time aside to train both new and returning members of your cleaning team. A recent federal report found that a lapse in staff training lead to a rise in infections in a veterans medical center. Even the most experienced members on your team can benefit from annual training that reinforces proper systems and practices. To stimulate learning and retention, steer clear of a strictly lecture setting. Create a cooperative learning environment that allows cleaners to get hands on experience and use peer tutoring to improve retention. A good training program prepares and empowers your team to keep the campus clean all semester.
3. Respond to Outbreaks Immediately
Last fall, tragedy struck the University of Maryland when 18-year-old Olivia Shea Paregol died after contracting adenovirus. A mold infestation in Elkton Hall left students with compromised immune systems susceptible to viral infections like adenovirus. While there were several things the university could have done to prevent this tragedy, they were criticized most for their delayed response to the outbreak. The school waited 18 days after discovering the virus to alert students and the public of its presence.
Respond to outbreaks immediately.
Obviously, the best way to deal with outbreaks is to prevent them from happening. Your cleaning plan should include the regular cleaning of air vents to prevent mold growth and ensure that high-touch surfaces are cleaned and disinfected daily. In the event of an outbreak, respond immediately and notify students. Issue warnings to students and educate them on ways to stay healthy and safe. Outbreaks of meningitis, norovirus, and even Hand Foot and Mouth disease are common on college campuses due to the close contact of the population. By combining proactive cleaning with reactive response, your custodial staff may help save lives.
4. Go Green
October is Campus Sustainability Month. Every year, thousands of colleges and universities participate in this event that celebrates sustainable practices in higher education. Whether your campus has been green for years or is just embarking on a green initiative, this is an excellent opportunity to reevaluate your sustainability efforts. Switching to an on-site generated cleaning solution is one easy way to make your campus cleaning program a little greener by reducing waste. ECA solutions help reduce single-use plastics, fuel use, and chemical waste. If you’re looking to engage with Campus Sustainability Month in other ways, CleanLink has compiled this list of events your team can participate in:
5. Recognize Your Staff
Whether you’re cleaning a small community college or a major state university, your custodial staff is working hard to keep those facilities clean and healthy. Find ways to recognize and reward their efforts, and you might end up improving employee morale and reducing turnover at the same time. Don’t be afraid to get creative! During International Housekeepers Week, the president of Marshall University became janitor for a day to show the custodial staff that their work doesn’t go unnoticed. October 2 will be National Custodial Workers Recognition Day and a perfect opportunity to thank the cleaning professionals that keep your higher educational facility clean. Consider gestures like leaving them notes, buying them lunch, or shining a light on the work they do. Appreciating the work done by university cleaners throughout the year will keep them engaged and motivated, which leads to cleaner and healthier facilities.
Take time to appreciate your staff.
Everyone succeeds when the campus is clean. A well-executed cleaning plan combined with a well-trained and engaged staff can keep your higher education facility happy, healthy, and thriving for the year to come.