work when it's just as easy and moresensible for each person to keep everyareaneat.The concept of preventive maintenance in mechanical equipment is aproven concept. And although Preventive Housekeeping is a more complexissue—because it involves controllingpeople rather than machinery—the endresult is the same.With the pressure that managementhas placed on Housekeeping Departments to -decrease labor costs whilemaintaining current levels of cleanliness, it seems that help must be obtained from other areas. Perhaps byemphasizing Preventive Housekeeping,the need to control costs can be answered in an intelligent manner.The next time you prepare your annual housekeeping budget, divide yourexpenditures in the following way:1. Money spent in removing dirtand keeping the building clean.2. Money spent in keeping the dirtoff the floor and encouraging personnel to be neat.Chances are that you are allocating2 iarge pail of your budget on removing dirt and very JiUie on keeping thedirt off the floor. Some housekeepingr.mnagers may even find it difficult Joidentify any funds spent in this manner other than an occasional seminar ora few posters placed on the wall.Executive Housekeepers know thatalmost every job could be simplified ifthey had the understanding and cooperation of fellow employees; patients,students, or guests; and the generalby Marvin Kleinpublic. But our society has done a poorjob explaining the importance of housekeeping for the safety, comfort and efficiency of those who use hospitals andnursing homes, hotels and motels, andschools and universities.It is unfortunate that people do notkeep work and public areas neat, anddo not use waste receptacles effectively.For example, a refusal to removewinter boots—or the simple act of atleast shaking the snow from them beforeentering a building—increases the costof housekeeping tremendously.Besides budget considerations,' facilities deteriorate before their time whenthey are abused. When one considersthe cost of construction in today'smarket, it is clear that PreventiveHousekeeping can help save major expenditures.Marvin Klein is President of Portion- Defining Preventive HousekeepingPac Chemical Corporation, Chicago, Preventive Housekeeping is simplyIllinois and a member of the A men- getting your staff and the public to usecan Management Associations. common sense by not creating extraHistorical PerspectiveFor many of us, our first experiencewith custodial work was helping theschool janitor empty the wastebasketand by washing the blackboard of ourfirst grade classroom. The custodianwas highly respected in the school, andwe soon learned what he did for us.Most of us learned respect for public property at home. But if we forgot,the teacher would promptly disciplineus for making a game of sliding downthe hall or some other innocent butdestructive act. These lessons went along way in establishing life-long habits.The person who received this firstgrade indoctrination does not grind outa cigarette on a school floor or walkaway from a broken bottle.Unfortunately, the gap between thepublic and the custodian has grown.Today there is little personal contactand, in fact, it is against many schoolrules to have children help the custodian clean their room. More important,today the work is often done at nightwhen the student does not even see thecustodian clean up trash or mop thefloor.Literally millions of people grow upunaware of how a building is cleanedand the importance of custodial work.They may think that some big machine automatically "zooms around"vacuuming up all the trash and cleaning the floors. Others have the attitudethat custodians are there to serve themand pick up papers they throw on thefloor. Worst of all, many people don'tthink about these things at all.There is almost no adult learning onthis subject except for the militaryservice, which has an excellent programin housekeeping. The military has educated millions of people in respect for
PREVENTIVE HOUSEKEEPINGpublic facilities. Of course, they dohave the advantage of discipline—andan Executive Housekeeper can't orderan employee to do twenty pushups fordiscarding a cigarette on the floor.Education—The Long-Term SolutionIt seems apparent that there is agreat need to establish long-term educational programs, so let's review whatlearning is needed and then what canbe done in your own facilities.Maintenance executives who work inschools have a key responsibility tomake students aware of how housekeeping creates a healthy atmosphere.Too often we assume that what is obvious to us is obvious to everyone. Sobefore we blame students for their carelessness or lack of respect, make surethey know what custodians do and howthe custodian's work aids them.Plan every possible way to bringyour department's work to the attentionof students. Starting in kindergarten,work the custodian into the educationalformat. Point out how important it is tohave a neat and clean class area. Formally introduce the custodians to theclasses. Show them the work custodiansperform and give students an idea ofwhat their area would be like withoutthe custodian's daily efforts on their behalf.Ask teachers to have an "idea contest" on how to improve housekeeping.Let the Superintendent of Buildings andGrounds be the judge. In the highergrades, the Superintendent of Buildingsand Grounds could be brought in totake part in health courses to explainhow good housekeeping can reduce thenumber of colds and other illnesses.Individual custodians can also assistin this program by befriending theleaders of each class and letting themknow what their work is. Perhaps theschool can even designate some fundsfor "assistant custodians"—young people.who could help the custodian withparticular, chores. Once young people*have worked with a custodian, it islikely they will be conscious of theimportance of this work for the rest oftheir lives.Students might also be included inmaking maintenance decisions. TheStudent Council could be asked to selecta paint color for the washrooms. If theysee this work desecrated and coveredwith grafitti, they may be more anxiousto talk to their classmates about theproblem.Each year there should be an orientation by the Superintendent of Buildings and Grounds, telling students whatis expected of them. A letter could bemailed to all new students, explainingthat those who do not live up to thestandards of the school will be askedto clean their area or in some way bepenalized for the problems they cause.School Board members should be enlisted to support these programs. Thissupport may be obtained by pointingout the costs they are paying for careless and destructive behavior of peoplewho think there are "elves" that comeout every night to clean up the building.In colleges the idea of having anaward for the best maintained dormitory floor each month has worked successfully. Housekeepers and studentson the winning floor are invited to acake and coffee party where they haveFortunately,the public is rapidlydevelopinganappreciation for clean,sanitary facilities. Your jobis to reinforce thisthroughcontinuous public relationsprogram designed tohumanizeathepersonal image ofthecustodian.an opportunity to meet each other in arelaxed atmosphere. Students quicklylearn that the housekeepers are intelligent, interesting people who exert greateffort in cleaning their areas. The resultscan only be better for all concerned.There are hundreds of ideas that arebeing used to make students aware ofgood housekeeping and their responsibility in this area. Certainly the respect of public property should be animportant educational goal. Now, let'sdiscuss what can be done in your owninstitution.Let's Learn From IndustryNext to the military, American industry has probably done the best job inPreventive Housekeeping. Many companies have spent considerable funds inthis area because they know that properhousekeeping reduces accidents and improves productivity.Of course, industrial plants have amajor advantage in that they arc dealing only with employees who can bereprimanded and not with the public,hotel guests, or hospital patients. Buteven in dealing with employees, there isa great deal that an Executive Housekeeper can do.Start When The Employee U HiredWhen new employees are hired, dothey receive a thorough indoctrinationin the housekeeping standards set byyour department? If possible, it wouldbe a good idea to present an audiovisual program as part of orientation.This is a highly effective way to introduce your department and its goals. Inaddition, a letter could be sent to allnew employees pointing out how housekeeping is working for them and whatis expected. It only costs pennies andwould make a key first impression.How often do you ask other department managers if they are satisfied withthe job housekeeping is doing? Thisshould be done on a regular basis—atleast every quarter. This meeting givesyou an opportunity to tell them whichmembers of their staffs are not cooperative in keeping their work areasclean — for example, which secretarynever seems to find the wastebasket orwhich lab technician can't seem to keepthe solutions off the floor. Keep a record of the meeting so that if the condition is not corrected, it can be reviewedat the next meeting. Also, try to keepa record of the time savings accomplished by the Housekeeping Department. Showing concrete results will encourage upper management to becomeinterested in, and be supportive of, yourprogram.Quite often in schools and hospitals,the professional staff presents a specialproblem. Some professionals believetheir job is so important that it overshadows every other consideration. Butsome medical schools are recognizingthe importance of their students understanding housekeeping. For instance,newspapers recently carried an articleabout a major medical school in whichmedical students worked with housekeepers to learn and appreciate theeffort it takes to make beds and scrubfloors.This should be encouraged in everymedical facility. Perhaps you couldmake a short course available where anew professional staff member can geta thorough understanding of housekeeping and learn its relationship to patientrecovery and protection of their ownhealth.
Personal Communication Is VitalAs in schools, a great deal of cleaning is done at night and it is difficult tobe considerate of a person you neversee. Why not have new housekeeperscome in during the day to meet thepeople in their work areas and betterunderstand the institution's operations?This will improve the cooperation ofthe housekeepers as well as the otherstaff employees.And Row about a little personal communication a few times during theyear? You might assist your housekeepers by periodically writing a note to thepeopie whose area they are responsiblefor. For example, have a Christmascard furnished with a note saying"Thank you for keeping your department so nice this past year. It has beena great help to me in doing my joband i appreciate it. Merry Christmasfrom your custodian Bill Wilson." Evenif the department hasn't been doing agood job, this note will remind themthat there is a person cleaning theirarea every night—not a machine. Andit may give them an incentive to maintain or increase their standards.Regular evaluation sheets filled outby each department would also remindthe staff of the job housekeeping isdoing.One way or another, it is imperativeto communicate with the object of ourattention—the people who put the dirton the floor. They must be told howthey can make their work safer andmore enjoyable by assisting the Housekeeping Department.Reaching Guests And PatientsThe next group that we have to dealwith is guests in a hotel or patients ina medical facility. Again, a few peoplethink that just because they are payingfor their hotel or hospital room, theyhave the right to make a mess, Theextra work they cause is difficult toeliminate. Communication is the onlyanswer. There should be a detailed explanation of how you are striving toprotect their health and comfort. Oneway many hospitals and hotels strive toaccomplish this is by instructing housekeepers to leave a.signed card in therooms each day. This card points outthe job they have done and asks theguest or patient to call the housekeeping manager with any complaints orproblems.Educating The PublicThe third area of concern is the general public, the most difficult group withwhich to communicate. The key is totry to keep all areas as attractive aspossible since the people who enter aneat room are usually encouraged toleave it the way they found it.In the past, we have seen the success of major promotional programssuch as "Don't Be A Litterbug." Theseshould be continued and expanded withmore posters and more pointed remarks. Of course, make certain that thetools the public needs to be neat areavailable—such as a sufficient numberof trash containers.Fortunately, the public is rapidly developing an appreciation for clean, sanitary facilities. In particular, major fastfoodoperations and gas stations arerealizing that the public is becomingmore discerning and is demandingcleanliness. Your job is to reinforcethese thoughts. In every area, use acontinuous public relations program ofposters, stories about the Housekeeping Department, articles about individual housekeepers—all designed to humanize the personal image of the custodian who is working for them.VandalismThere is one area with which wemust deal if the problem is ever to becompletely resolved — that of vandalism. While only a very small percentage of people are destructive and takepleasure in scratching stainless steel,throwing trash into inaccessible places,breaking dispensers, etc., the damagethey cause is costly.This problem can only be handled bya strong position on the part of management. Destroying facilities is just asserious as destroying equipment, andany employee caught in an act of vandalism should be immediately discharged; any outside individual shouldbeprosecuted.Here again, a public relations campaign should be initiated. You mightconsider using a sign indicating that themanagement would be glad to pay themedical costs of any counseling neededto suppress destructive tendencies or acartoon showing that a person who is avandal has* deep psychological problems.You might also try to channel theurge of graffiti writers by installingchalk boards in washrooms, saying thatyou understand they have an urge towrite and that they can rid themselvesof this urge without damaging thebuilding.Despite the fact that vandalism isresponsible for huge costs in schoolsand public buildings, it seems that mostof the effort is spent on cleaning andrepairing damages rather than a directapproach to solve and prevent thetheproblem.Prepare Your ProgramMany of the ideas discussed so farhave been used for years, and certainlynot all institutions need a PreventiveHousekeeping Program. But if you feelthat your department could operatemore effectively if it had the cooperation of all those involved, then it istime for you to act. You can be thecatalyst that initiates Preventive Housekeeping in your institution.Prepare a program with at least fouror five goals. As in every managementby-objectiveprogram, develop a timeschedule for each goal, a method ofmeasuring effectiveness, and a budgetestimate. If possible, try to project possible savings such as less custodiallabor, extended paint intervals, etc.Most programs may be time-consuming in their planning and implementation, but also fairly inexpensive— such as holding a periodic coffeebreak to bring housekeepers togetherwith employees from other departments. Some programs, however, mayinvolve a major expenditure as, for instance, adding a new employee to workwith the staff and the public using yourfacility. It's possible that one personkeeping the din o0 the floor could replace three or four removing it. Present your proposal to management firstto make sure you have their support,and make sure you explain that theeasiest way to reduce costs may be tobudget funds to educate the public, humanize custodial workers, and punishvandals."Before" and "after" photographscan document the effectiveness of aPreventive Housekeeping Program. Inaddition, there are also several keyfringe benefits. Your housekeepers willappreciate the effort you are puttingforth to help make their job moreeffective. And management will bemore aware of the nume.rous unnecessary problems which you face everyday.Don't continue to complain aboutuncooperative staff members and a disrespectful public. Get on the offensivewith a Preventive Housekeeping Program,oReprinted with permission from July, 1978 issue of Executive Housekeeper Magazine©1978 North American Publishing Company, 401 North Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA 19108 U.S.A.PORTION-PAC CHEMICAL CORP.400 North Ashland Avenue • Chicago, Illinois 60622