3 cost-cutting training techniques
24 March 2015
Training should be considered top priority in any workplace. This is especially true for cleaning staff who are in frequent contact with hazardous chemicals. However, with the sluggish economy still threatening budgets across the board, cleaning contractors are being forced to tighten their margins, meaning that some are finding it increasingly difficult to allocate sufficient funds to certain areas of the business such as training. While some organisations have had to put training schemes on the back burner for the time being, this is not the case for cleaning contractors and janitorial companies who have a duty of care to uphold exceptional levels of health and safety and hygiene standards.
Accidents arising for the mishandling of chemicals can result in severe health consequences for the operator, not to mention the financial repercussions for the company involved. Furthermore, lack of understanding regarding correct chemical use and application can cause cross-contamination with the building or facility becoming a breeding ground for harmful bacteria. The best way to combat this is to equip staff with the sufficient skills and know-how needed to undertake their cleaning duties.
Training does not have to be a huge expense. There are many cost-effective in-house techniques that companies can avail of to ensure safe work practices and hygienic cleaning regimes.
With migrant workers accounting for 30% of Britain’s contract cleaning employees (source: Migrants’ Rights Network) it is essential to develop cleaning guidelines that can be easily understood by all and not affected by language barriers.
Colour-coding and intuitive icons are an effective way of indicating to employees which chemical and cleaning tools are required without the use of language. This technique educates users on which cleaning products should be used and where, thus eliminating guess-work and reducing the margin for error. While some cleaning contractors use their own combinations to fit their own needs, the British Institute of Cleaning Science (BICSs) has developed a clever framework for colour-coding within the cleaning industry.
The BICSs chart indicates the use of red for general washrooms with red/white suitable for sanitary appliances. Additionally, it designates white for high risk specific areas often associated with hospital environments.
If in doubt, your chemical or equipment provider should be able to advise you on colour-coded labels to suit your needs.
2. Internal training scheme:
Appoint internal team leaders to educate new and existing staff on hygiene standards and organise bi-monthly training sessions to address common misconceptions such as the difference between cleaning, sanitising and disinfecting. Just because it looks clean doesn’t mean it’s hygienic, and staff need to be equipped with the necessary know-how to help prevent cross-contamination and the spread of bacteria. The more knowledge an employee can gain the more confidence they will have to alert fellow workmates if they spot potential hygiene risks or safety hazards.
Smaller organisation may feel that they do not have the time or resources to dedicate to this. However, these don’t have to be big formal meetings – a quick morning huddle over a coffee to discuss areas for improvement will suffice! You might even find that employees have great ideas to contribute to your business model too.
In the case of larger organisations, the challenge with internal training is that management may not be so enthusiastic about the idea of splitting a valued employee’s time between hands-on cleaning tasks and downtime for training. Just remember that while team leaders may be temporarily pulled from their day-to-day duties in the short-term, the company can reap the long-term beneifts in the form of improved hygiene standards, increased productivity and a highly competent workforce.
3. Encourage professional self-development:
There is a whole range of resources available to help employees improve their safety knowledge and cleaning skills. Management could print out useful articles that offer advice on cleaning-related matters and encourage employees to read them in their spare time. Keep an eye out for diagrams and image based articles that would be more suitable for migrant workers who may not manage English as effectively as a native speaker.
Looking for inspiration? The HSC offers downloadable publications on topics ranging from cleaning industry heath and safety to guidance on working with substances hazardous to health.
By failing to educate employees on potential job hazards and safe work procedures, cleaning contractors are fostering a culture of irresponsible practice. In fact, the HSC reported that in Great Britain 28.2 million working days were lost between 2013-2014 due to work-related illness and workplace injury with £14.2 billion being the estimated cost of injuries and ill health from current working conditions.
With statistics like these, cleaning contractors are increasingly aware of the importance of training. A highly skilled workforce not only benefits the health and safety of employees but can also free up costs associated with on-the-job accidents and injuries.
At the end of the day, training should be looked at as an investment in the longevity of your janitorial company. Allocating a few pounds to training, even in the current economic climate, will not only protect your workforce; it will give you an extra business edge.
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