Workload management in the cleaning industry


An executive housekeeper and an experienced FM professional share advice on how to avoid employee burnout.


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February 21, 2022
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Workload management in the cleaning industry

Cleaning and disinfection have taken a center stage during the global pandemic. The cleaning processes have had to be redefined and cleaning schedules have had to be adapted. You may now find your cleaning staff dealing with the extra workload and also defending staffing levels to ensure these cleaning tasks are completed. Standardization, work loading, and scheduling are the keys to your successful cleaning plan.

Facilities and organisations that create standardized work loading solutions achieve better results than those that don’t, even when there are fewer people available to do the work. 

Efficient work loading means creating a calendar for important tasks and documenting their frequency. It enables staff assignments based on a building’s cleaning needs, the risks associated with doing (or not doing) these tasks, and the available budget. Proper work loading that is specific to the tools and equipment chosen allows organizations to align resources with the people who do the work. 

How to manage the workload in your organization?

  • Set aside the right amount of time.
    Take time to plan, execute, and follow through with your workload management plan.
  • Define your cleaning objectives
    Defining your cleaning goals. Ensure these goals are in line with the organization’s expectations, regulatory requirements, and desired healthy cleaning outcomes. 
  • Communicate these goals
    Communication is the key. Don’t forget to disseminate these goals within your organisation. 
  • Calculate the workload
    Calculate what needs to be done to achieve your goals. Weigh it against the actual cleaning team workload and resources available. 
  • Understand your team’s capacity
    How much can your cleaning staff practically deliver? Take into account the human factors like vacation, personal aspirations and responsibilities, etc.
  • Distribute the cleaning work
    Avoid overloading the overachievers for the risk of burning them out!

To gain a deeper perspective about workload management in the cleaning industry, we spoke to an executive housekeeper and an experienced FM professional. 

A housekeeper’s perspective

datta jadhav

Dattatraya Jadhav​, Executive Housekeeper, FIVE Palm Jumeirah Dubai says cleaning is an important aspect of daily life. With the advent of COVID-19, cleanliness and hygiene have become of paramount importance, with hygiene being the most important factor. Cleaners perform physically demanding work every day in a fast-paced environment, and these

demands have increased due to the current business trends that are leading to overburdened Staff. This leads to pushing the heads to seek a cheaper cleaning contract for optimum utilization.

In analyzing work actions, it becomes necessary to look at both workloads simultaneously. The workload is a concept that aims to highlight all of the factors that influence the work process, such as technological resources, activity organization, and division, interpersonal relationships, bond with the environment, and physical structure among others, which can overburden professionals, their work, and their skills, as well as deplete their vitality.

Workloads are categorized into many categories; each comes with its own set of risks. This does not imply that they are merely the sum of the hazards, as their significance is derived from the overall dynamics of the work process. Physical stress includes noise, which affects the ears, cells, and the central nervous system, as well as heat, which activates a thermoregulatory mechanism and allows the physiological process to shift. Humidity, ventilation, vibration, and lighting are all included in this area. Dust, smoke, fibres, vapours, and liquids are the most common sources of chemical exposure. Mechanical stress is related to the production of objects and technology, installation conditions, and maintenance process.

The workload is not just the consequence of activity, but also of the interaction between the demands of the tasks, the circumstances in which the interactions take place, the workers - their skills, abilities, and behaviours, and their perceptions of their own and others’ expectations.

It is consequently critical to know how professionals perceive the work while investigating these pressures.

Workers should be included in choices that affect their health, and their perspectives and experiences should be valued.

Contractors, supervisors, building owners, renters, and property managers are just a few of the people that should be involved. To resolve conflicts, better train supervisors, and clarify communication methods between companies and employees. Set reasonable workload and task expectations, as well as formal job descriptions. Create policies to guard against excessive workload.

The way work is scheduled, the increase in the amount and complexity of activities, the unreasonable number of tasks for the hours performed, and the distribution of working hours among fewer people are just a few examples of how this excessive workload expresses itself.

To avoid physical and psychological harm caused by cleaning crew workload, there is an urgent need to manage excessive workload ahead of time. Workplace stress and workload, as well as the social environment at work, can have a long-term effect on health. Managing the workload among your teams is a very crucial step as it leads to the quality of the final product delivered. If the workload is equally planned and divided as per the capabilities of the individuals, the individual will have a relaxed mode in his mindset and will try to drive his energy in the right direction and that will result in the quality delivery of the services that was seeking from him/her. Leaders/Planners need to have a close idea of the time, pressure, flexibility, and coordination that will lead to a well-planned work order and it won’t be seemed or named as a “LOAD” or a “BURDEN” in the end.

An FM perspective


Shafeek Sainlabedeen, Chief Operating Officer, Electrolux Maintenance and Commercial Services LLC believes that cleaning is a sensitive task. “I must say for a long time the importance of Cleaning has not been recognized. However, during the pandemic period, effective cleaning became a serious topic of discussion and the science behind effective cleaning has been discussed in detail ever since,” he adds. 

Apparently, the workload across the cleaning industry has become huge due to several factors like:

  • The longer duty hours cleaning crew works similar to security guards or so in almost 80% of the companies in the region.
  • The physical efforts/potential risk involved over the cleaning tasks, handling of equipment, long exposure to chemicals, ergonomic factors etc .
  • Weather and regional climatic challenges which the cleaners are exposed to like indoor and outdoor tasks in extreme weather conditions.
  • Lots of competition in the market between companies where the cost reduction demands
  • Multitasking and additional tasks to employees.
  • Lack of awareness in medium and smaller establishments on occupational health and safety and workload management.
  • Increased market demands on service requirements while having a lack of manpower availability to execute those tasks – which was very much during the pandemic time restrictions.

People are assets of any organization and employee welfare and workload management well defines the productivity outcomes of an employee as well the level of service quality at workplace workload refers to the total amount of work you assign to an individual to complete in a given timeframe.

“At Electrolux maintenance and commercial services, we always gave predominant consideration on employee work-life balance and the results are pretty evident over the past 30 years of the company’s success in the market with great employee retention as client retention. We currently have more than 2500 employees deployed across retail, residential, educational and hospitality sectors while retail is our key service sphere. You go into one of every two Carrefour Hypermarkets (which we are serving for more than 25 years), you will find Electrolux Staff. You go into every single ADCOOP Supermarkets, you will find an Electrolux team member.

As we have most of our business in the retail sector, we have put in great efforts and the core

management including myself invests lots of time in ensuring the workload of the team is managed well that the services which are 365 days in retail are not compromised as well the most valuable assets – our people are kept the happy and motivated day in day out. We achieve this by using simple tools:

  • We plan our resource allocation effectively with proper reliever covers ensuring all the staff compulsorily takes their weekly offs.
  • The team welfare facilities are made more relaxing and adequate,” he says. 

In addition to this, the senior management team at Electrolux Maintenance and Commercial Services LLC  does routine one to one interactions with the team in staff accommodations/sites to understand their feedback/ grievances.

“For the corporate team, we have effective task allocation through tools like RACI Matrix, where we define the responsibilities, objectives clearly and train our team on effective communication and consulting at various levels in the organizational hierarchy so that the responsibility delegation is optimum while ensuring a great corporate workplace culture. Effective CAFM systems are implemented as well for project management which reduces time and efforts while gathering the project data well so that setting of business objectives and analyzing the achievement of targets become easy and effective.

We use Bradford Factor analysis by HR to understand the employee absenteeism but the same data is used as a tool to get to the bottom of the reason why an employee goes absent from duty -whether it is due to increased workload, unhappy working conditions etc. which will help us as a company to put in objectives to correct those. Another example is we frequently review our workforce requirements, and this ensures that there is at no point we face a critical shortfall of resources in the projects which may give extra tasks to the team assigned.

Above all, we always establish priorities and distribute workload from all job levels on the hierarchy where everyone’s Authority and responsibilities are clearly communicated through.

After all, there is a clear relationship between the job demands and job satisfaction and eventually, if your staff workload is not managed well they end up being unproductive, unhappy and thereby impact with lack of quality service delivery. Our focus has always been and will remain on investing our time and efforts in Our most valuable asset – our People. That has always been the Electrolux way since our Hon’ble Chairman Mr Hans Ekbom started the company’s service portfolio in the UAE in 1990,” he concludes.

A workload strategy gives you an opportunity to build an efficient and innovative cleaning plan with a balanced workload. Studies have shown that a stress-free and balanced work-life boosts employee productivity. Standardized work loading will not only benefit the front-line cleaning workers but also the employees tasked with making and defending custodial staffing levels. The end result is better performance!