The foundation for becoming an organization that thinks strategically about cleaning begins with knowing what you're trying to accomplish and then developing quantifiable metrics that show how to do it.
The resulting "balanced scorecard" allows cleaning services to sustain and improve customer service, even during lean years. That's because the data bridges the gap between financial and operational administrators. Data provides a fuller picture of the situation than simple words ever could.
This strategic, data-driven approach to cleaning has been utilized at the University of Washington where Gene Woodard, the Director of the Building Services Department, said the culture has ceased to be reactionary, instead focusing on process improvements and employee empowerment. The approach allowed the department to exceed expectations, even during staff cutbacks that occurred during the Great Recession of 2008.
Woodard said the department tracks 23 measures and managers report quarterly on the status of each measure. Every leader is a champion in his or her area and they hold one another accountable for moving the key performance indicators in the right direction.
The department used to receive a large number of complaints regarding restroom cleanliness. As the number of staff members decreased, the assigned square footage per custodian increased, which compounded the problem. To fix it, the department conducted inventories of each bathroom on campus and established a deep cleaning schedule for them each quarter. The result was a decrease in the number of complaints.
The idea is to transform the culture from top down to become one where employee engagement influences the work, Woodard said in a webinar. Each team member tracks ideas he or she generates, creates individual metrics and tracks progress toward the goal. The goal could only be achieved by relying on the people who are on the front lines, doing the work.
While no two buildings are alike and there's great deal of discrepancy between hospitals, industrial warehouses and schools, each type of facility must be cleaned. Additionally, cleaning organizations are each different, with unique cultures and operational arrangements.
But with any organization, communication is vital to meeting customer expectations and changing behaviors. And to truly elicit change, organizations must not make intuitive decisions. Rather, data should back up decisions to ensure the organization is headed in the right direction and confirm that the budget is in line with the expectation.