The cleaning industry will need a new, or renewed, generation of workers to meet new demand

Clean Thoughts: May/June 2021 Editor’s Note

More than 115 million people—34.8% of the total U.S. population—were fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as of mid-May. Yet, even after receiving vaccinations, many Americans say they will continue to follow pandemic health and safety guidelines and prioritize facilities that are committed to cleanliness. 

A recent survey from Stratus Building Solutions, a company specializing in commercial cleaning services, found 88% of Americans plan to remain “extra cautious” of potential germs even after they become fully vaccinated.

The survey asked 520 employed Americans— 276 men, 244 women, aged 25 to 54—a series of questions about cleaning, disinfecting, vaccination, and workplaces. The main takeaway was most respondents plan to remain “clean freaks” for the unforeseeable future. 

In fact, 90% say—even when vaccinated—they expect businesses they frequent to place a special emphasis on cleaning and sanitizing. Most (8 out of 10) respondents are concerned about COVID-19 variants or another serious virus surfacing again sometime in the future and 86% said they would like to see proof that a workplace, business, restaurant, gym, or school is cleaned and sanitized regularly. Most (94%) said cleaning and disinfecting should be a standard and a priority for businesses moving forward regardless of current events or flu season.

These perspectives show that elevated standards for cleaning are here to stay. A new generation of clean freaks can offer a lot of opportunity for service providers who have successfully adapted, but it may seem daunting to an exhausted workforce on the front lines. The cleaning industry will need a new, or renewed, generation of workers to meet new demand.

On-demand staffing company PeopleReady reported 161,000 jobs related to keeping workplaces clean were posted in the past month (April to May) in the U.S. During that period, cleaning crew member jobs saw an increase of 364%. Custodial assistant jobs rose 200% and building cleaner, janitor, and general cleaner jobs jumped 80%.

“As both companies and employees look to resume in-person work, enhanced cleaning services are a vital part of the new business as usual, and it’s helping to fuel an area of job growth,” said Taryn Owen, president of PeopleReady. 

No matter where you are on this spectrum of change, we hope our May/June issue brings insights that help you confront the challenges and embrace the opportunities ahead. Thanks for reading!