Schools need more than custodian

It’s Time to Lend Your Custodial Department a Helping Hand.  

Why Schools Need More Than Custodians


Feel-good stories about private schools honoring a custodian for decades of service are heartwarming, and the accolades are usually well-deserved. However, what some school administrations don’t realize is that more custodians would have impressive tenures if they had the assistance and resources necessary for them to do their jobs more effectively and efficiently.


Saying Goodbye

The days of single custodians with a mop and bucket swabbing down a school hallway are as antiquated as the clip art used to portray them. Today, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic, health, safety, and infection prevention are top of mind for parents and children. The parents want to know their children are being protected; the children long to stay healthy to participate in sports and other activities and maintain the in-person social lives they had to forgo during the pandemic shutdown.

Also, today, most custodians are assigned tasks beyond cleaning and lack the bandwidth to perform all that needs to be done. This often leads to frustration, low job satisfaction, poor custodial engagement, turnover, and sometimes increasingly poor performance and worker-client communication.

Studies show that students are more creative and productive and teachers teach better in environments that are clean, safe, and healthy. Conversely, unclean learning environments have been linked to poor test scores and chronic absenteeism. Meanwhile, if all else is equal, parents choosing between schools are more likely to send their children to the one they perceive to have a higher level of cleanliness.


Adding Staff Is Not the Answer

A mistake some schools make when they realize the need for additional custodial assistance is assuming the answer is hiring more workers. In addition to wages, hiring workers incurs the expenses of insurance, vacation pay, and other benefits paid leaves of absence, and potential union problems should a layoff be needed. The truth is hiring more in-house employees is seldom the answer, not only for the reasons just mentioned but also because extra help is not usually required five days a week but on more of an as-needed basis.

With this in mind, below are a few ways hiring the right building service contractor (BSC) partner to handle special projects can improve your cleaning department’s effectiveness and efficiency, enhance custodial job satisfaction and engagement, and impress stakeholders.

Deep cleaning. When school is on break is a great time to do a deep dive into disinfecting. While many custodial teams are familiar with the day-to-day infection prevention techniques, the right BSC has the in-depth training, including a thorough knowledge of various viruses and bacteria, Including the COVID-19 causing SARS-CoV-2. Having and promoting this added precaution to parents and other stakeholders can go a long way to proving your team is going above and beyond to keep the school clean, safe, and healthy.

Labor-intensive tasks. Holiday and summer breaks are the best time to undertake deep cleaning, such as floor stripping and refinishing, carpet extraction, and other tasks that can be more easily and thoroughly completed when there is little to no traffic. Top BSCs have the expertise and the latest equipment to complete these tasks effectively and efficiently, leaving your custodians more time to concentrate on other vital cleaning and disinfecting responsibilities.

Events. Setting up and tearing down areas for events can be a taxing job, especially for schools that are shorthanded and use areas for various gatherings, such as gymnasiums for proms and graduation or cafeterias for testing or faculty meetings. These areas often must be set up and returned to their intended use quickly. The right BSC partner will have workers help set up and stay through the event to ensure a timely teardown.

Painting. When schools are on break is the best time to freshen up areas that may look worn with a new coat of paint. Yet, not all custodians are professional painters. The best BSCs have a painter on staff who can ensure a quality job in less time.

Emergency assistance. Most custodians are hired to clean and not to repair things like broken water pipes. Having an experienced BSC on call that has tradespeople, like plumbers, on staff or has close relationships with them to ensure faster service can be a saving grace in an emergency.

Sustainability. At most schools, the environment has returned to the spotlight after being temporarily upstaged by the COVID-19 pandemic. An outside contractor knows what has and hasn’t worked for other accounts and can bring fresh ideas and methodology to help your custodial staff develop and maintain an effective sustainability program. They can help with everything from developing a viable green cleaning program to helping implement an effective waste management program. Best, these programs can be created and maintained without taking valuable time away from your custodial staff’s day-to-day responsibilities.

Technology. While school custodians are busy maintaining schools, they don’t all have the time to research the latest labor and cost-saving technologies. Not all school districts have the funds—or the need—to buy the newest equipment, especially for tasks that are performed infrequently. The right BSC will have the latest equipment to produce top-quality results in fewer labor hours.

Balance. Your custodial staff wants what most workers do: a good work-life balance. This is especially true during the holidays and summer breaks, when they, too, want to enjoy time with their families. Dividing up the work between the custodial team and a BSC can create a positive working environment, leaving workers feeling happier, more willing to go the extra mile, and more satisfied with their jobs and employers. And that’s surely a nice reflection on you.


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