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Training & Education

The bad, the indifferent and the excellent

Lynn Webster, from Lynn Webster Consultants Ltd., talks exclusively to us about the real costs of

cleaning training and education. In the current climate one of the first casualties, in many sectors and not just in cleaning and FM, is training and education. Cost is generally cited as the main reason for pushing training and education off the agenda; how, runs the argument, can we afford to train and educate when we are implementing essential cost-saving measures throughout our business? It’s a reasonable point. Training and education does cost: the cost of buying in the expertise, or supporting an in- house function; the cost of time spent on attending training, when the real job isn’t getting done; the cost of replacement staff to cover; the list of the costs of training and education is a lengthy one. But the counter argument is also concerned with cost: what are the real costs, current, medium and long-term, to the business of not training and educating cleaning staff?

When an organisation introduces new methods of working, adopts new processes and procedures for cleaning, or purchases new equipment and consumables, there is usually an element of training involved. We tend to accept that this training is essential, in part because of the health, safety and possibly security elements implied when new ways of working come into operation. The costs of not addressing legal requirements can, as we know, be the undoing of an organisation. What we might find though is that cleaning staff might not receive actual training, i.e. something in which they are actively engaged and involved, rather they are presented with facts and information. This might be done


in a rush at the start of a cleaning shift, where time is at a premium, but as long as the organisation can argue that they have passed the information along, that the relevant box has been ticked, they believe the job is done.

Training and education might enable staff to achieve a qualification, formal recognition of their skills and knowledge that is a practical demonstration of the individual’s capability because there is some form of assessment attached to the award process. Qualification-based training and education is often the first casualty of cost cutting. Cleaning businesses may see this as something that ultimately favours the individual rather than the organisation and so argue that this is inappropriate in the current climate. There might even be a worry that investing in qualifications for cleaning staff equips those staff to leave their employ and go elsewhere, possibly to competitors. All that money spent for nothing! However organisations which provide qualifications-based training and education are generally perceived as good employers, which can result in attracting motivated and enthusiastic job applicants and in retaining those all-important skilled and knowledgeable staff who will ultimately help organisations to weather the current economic storms.

But there is something fundamental that underpins training and education, a compelling cost- effective argument for investing in

training our cleaning staff: ensuring best practice. Training and education helps organisations to operate cost-effectively, resource efficiently. Every cleaning and FM organisation knows there are bad, indifferent and excellent ways of carrying out cleaning operations. Cleaning badly costs; cleaning indifferently costs; cleaning excellently, applying best practice methods and approaches, reaps immeasurable benefits.

Training and education helps cleaning staff to identify bad, indifferent and excellent ways of working. Timely and appropriate training interventions will put a stop to bad practice, supplying the skills and knowledge needed to step up and away from indifferent practice. Training provides a forum for cleaning staff to exchange best practice approaches, while an experienced trainer establishes the framework for participants to learn and apply new skills and knowledge.

The qualitative and quantitative costs of not providing training and education for cleaning staff are high, the benefits of providing training and education even higher. @SparkLynn

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