Monday, March 10, 2008

What About Square Footage?

I frequently hear from managers and directors how their EVS department is benchmarked on their cleanable square footage and cost. Certainly, square footage and cost are important considerations in determining staffing levels and benchmarking of facilities. But square footage and cost cannot be the only consideration.

As anyone who has worked in the housekeeping industry can tell you, cleaning 10,000 square feet of office area is very different than cleaning 10,000 square feet of patient rooms. Or, for that matter, 10,000 square feet of public waiting areas.

It should be obvious, but to some administrators and some consulting companies, square footage is square footage. It’s not that simple. (Here’s a few related articles on benchmarking: Health Facilities Magazine, Cleaning and Maintenance Management Online)

We must factor in a number of other items if we intend to compare facilities on equal terms. Level of cleaning (patient area vs. non patient area, etc.), frequency of cleaning tasks, frequency of project tasks, number of beds…... And we haven’t even begun to define all the other responsibilities that are sometimes given to Environmental Service departments….waste removal, outside grounds care, linen distribution, and the list can go on and on.

If you’ve ever had to face budget cuts, staffing reductions, downsizing, (or maybe your organization uses the more positive “staffing adjustment” or “right-sizing”), I’m sure you can appreciate the value of this information. If you don’t have the information now, get it. Do you homework.

Benchmarking can be a good thing, but only if you are comparing the same things.

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