More freedom for Danish cleaners

2nd of July 2014
More freedom for Danish cleaners

ECJ’s correspondent in Scandinavia, Petra Sjouwerman, gives us an update from Denmark. The municipality of Gladsaxe is the first in the country to achieve the new Nordic standard for cleaning, Insta 800. This has resulted in a significant improvement in cleaning quality, while employee motivation has also increased.

Are you striving for higher client satisfaction? Do you also want to increase your employees’ satisfaction? Then you should let yourself be inspired by the Danish municipality of Gladsaxe, a suburb of Copenhagen, with 62,000 inhabitants.

What do the Danes differently? The Municipal Public Cleaning Service GKR has introduced new ways of working. Instead of traditional cleaning, where employees clean according to a fixed manual designed by the management, employees now have more freedom.

They can take the liberty to assess the need for cleaning in a given area, in relation to the results GKR and the client have agreed upon. Consequently, GKR has shifted focus from ‘what needs to be done’ to ‘how clean it should be’.

The result? The cleaning quality in the schools, institutions and offices (180,000 square metres) of Gladsaxe has increased significantly. “When you have confidence in the competence of your employees, this gives a boost. Not only in cleaning quality, but also in job satisfaction and motivation, because employees suddenly feel their knowledge is valuable to their workplace,” said the mayor of Gladsaxe, Karin Søjborg Holst to local journalists.

And this spring, after four years of hard work, GKR became the first municipal public cleaning company in Denmark to achieve the new Nordic standard for cleaning, called Insta 800.

In 2010 GKR decided to work towards this Nordic certification. The company sent all 200 employees - from many different countries around the world - on a course, which ended with a test. GKR then introduced the new standard in small scale projects of 20 cleaning areas. To measure the difference in cleaning, the quality was monitored by a control team before the employees took the course, and again afterwards.

Before the course, only 38 per cent of the cleaning areas corresponded to the new standard. After the course, this had risen to 98 per cent.

“The result was surprisingly significant,” said Mette Olsen, cleaning manager at GKR. “With the new standard, employees focus their efforts where they feel they are most needed.” Client satisfaction has increased to 90 per cent. Job satisfaction is around 97 per cent. On top of that GKR now has also a lower rate of absenteeism due to sickness. And last but not least, the company has one of the lowest staff turnovers in the Danish cleaning sector.

“For a long time, we had our own internal and subjective quality assurance system. The Insta 800 standard will become more and more widespread in the Nordic countries and I expect it will become a market requirement in the future,” Olsen says.

The Insta 800 certificate now adorns the wall in GKR’s Gladsaxe office.


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