Polishing Up – the impact of professionalising training for Estates Cleaning Staff


CAPOD runs several extremely successful Passport to Excellence development programmes for different groups of professional staff in the University. One such group is the Estates Cleaning Team. The Cleaning Manager approached CAPOD in 2011 to see if we could developing a passport scheme for the team. There was existing training in place, but the new programme would have the following aims:

• Ensure that everyone was trained to the same standard
• All training properly documented
• Staff to get recognition for the training they have done and the skills they have acquired

The programme was designed to consist of short training sessions which covered both technical and interpersonal skills:

delivered by 2

The programme saw its first graduates in 2012, when all current staff participated. Sessions were thereafter run twice a year so that all new staff could attend. The total number of graduates at the end of 2014 was 117. All staff who graduate are presented with a certificate at a recognition event on completion.

The breakdown of these is as follows:
2012 86 staff
2013 21 staff
2014 10 staff


To measure the impact of the programme, two sets of data were considered:

• Set 1 relates to absence and performance related issues relating to work standards.
• Set 2 is data derived from a questionnaire issued to all cleaning staff in January 2015

Set 1 – Cleaning staff sickness absence

Since the launch of the programme in June 2011, there has been a 27% drop in sickness absence.

Number of absence instances – averaged per year over the period

sickness absence table

Set 2 – Performance related issues (work standards)

Although the numbers here are small, they represent a 35% decrease in performance issues. It should be noted that the number of staff employed has increased by 33% due to new buildings being serviced by the team, however, the number of performance issues has continued to drop overall.

Number of issues – averaged per year over the period

performance issue table

What Cleaning Staff think

In January 2015, Estates Cleaners were asked to complete a short questionnaire about the Passport to Cleaning Excellence. 84 questionnaires were returned from a total staff of 120 which represents an excellent 70% response rate. Some non-returners were accounted for by new staff who have not yet completed their training.

The staff were asked to choose Strongly Disagree, Agree, Disagree or Strongly Disagree with the in response to the following 4 statements:

1. Participating in the Passport programme was a positive experience.
2. The training I received was helpful to me.
3. The training I received helped me feel more confident in the workplace.
4. Going to the training sessions enabled me to get to know more of the Estates Team.

The results were overwhelmingly positive with over 94% choosing either strongly agree or agree for each question. In the case of Question 1, this figure was 99% with only one respondent choosing a negative response.

strongly disagree

The questionnaire had space for staff to make additional comments. Only a few took this opportunity, and the comments received were as follows:

Love the training
Some of it was fun!
We tend to stay in our groups
Being trained 3 years after I started was useless
I had already learned it on my own
Great Experience

chart 2

(click on chart to enlarge)


The Estates Cleaning team were already an excellent one with high standards. However, since the introduction of the Passport to Cleaning Excellence there has been a percentage decrease in absence instances and performance related work standard issues with the trends going in an increasingly positive direction.

Perhaps more significant has been the way in which the staff have responded to the training opportunities given. The hugely positive response illustrated in the column chart above shows that the training has been extremely well received and appreciated by the staff concerned. Further anecdotal evidence of this positive attitude towards the programme is that many of the certificates awarded are now proudly displayed on noticeboards and walls around the University.

Moving forward, CAPOD plans to review and update the content of the interpersonal training sessions which are delivered, and is committ ed to continu e to deliver the programme in the future.


With grateful thanks to Gillian Jordan, Cleaning Manager and to the Cleaning Staff for their feedback and for being excellent participants at the training sessions.

Cert Pres January 2014 2

Some graduates from 2014.

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