It has been over 3 long years since the Association for the Healthcare Environment (AHE) Annual Exchange Conference was held in-person. AHE is the professional organization for healthcare environmental services (EVS) professionals and the Annual Exchange Conference gathers these EVS leaders for knowledge sharing, exchange of best practices and ideas, and connecting with peers. Despite an ongoing pandemic and a category 3 storm (Hurricane Ian), nothing was going to stop over 400 of us from attending this year’s event in Orlando, Florida! I can’t express the joy in seeing the smiling faces of old friends and colleagues again. Together we partook in fun social events, ate good food, strolled a right-sized exhibitor hall, and networked. And not to forget, there were some great educational sessions including topics as such as:

  • Pathogens of interest (e.g., Clostridioides difficile (C. diff) and Candida auris)
  • Emergency preparedness
  • Future of EVS
  • Continuous survey readiness
  • Cleaning and disinfection (of course!)

A common theme heard from an overwhelming majority of attendees was the staffing challenges as a result of the Great Resignation. Keynote speaker DeDe Halfhill, a leadership expert, shared that we are seeing burnout at levels we have never seen before. She advised EVS leaders to be vulnerable and lead with love through staff engagement. Leaders should communicate to connect at a human level, not simply to direct. Keynote speaker, Kim Seeling Smith, a future-of-work and talent retention expert, informed attendees that 80% of workers would choose a caring boss over a 20% pay increase. People must be in the center, and we can do this through respect, trust, collaboration, communication and inclusiveness.

Ms. Seeling further reported on some the causes of the worker shortage including self-employment, competition, and retirement. Baby Boomers are retiring at a rate that exceeds the younger generations entrance into the workforce and this is not expected to correct until 2030. Today’s workforce has become more empowered and to retain them, we need to help them to achieve their goals – all while still getting the work done. People come to work to add value. As leaders, it’s our job to help them understand that what they do is meaningful – they help to keep patients healthy and alive through the provision of a sanitary environment cleaned to acceptable healthcare standards. I really appreciated this hiring tip provided by Ms. Seeling:

“Don’t hire for experience, rather jot down the 5 strengths needed for the job and hire accordingly. You can always train them on the necessary skills.” 

— Kim Seeling Smith

Several attendees shared the creative ways in which they are recruiting workers. One facility reported hiring high school students part-time, while another facility developed a re-entry program for veterans and recently released incarcerated persons.

Once you have the right people in place, you need to get them up-to-speed quickly through education and training. A well-trained staff is an efficient machine so checkout some of our short Clorox Healthcare training videos:

As a leader, it is important to stay current with your own education so I recommend checking out our new CloroxPro™ HealthyClean™ online learning platform for best-in-class education and training. HealthyClean™ offers the only industry-wide certificate course designed for the commercial cleaning industry to be accredited by the American National Standards Institute National Accreditation Board (ANAB). 

Other time-saving tips include the use of ready-to-use one-step cleaner-disinfectants. These products save your staff time while eliminating the risk of dilution errors. Additionally, there are no secondary bottles to label and to have to clean, disinfectant, and dry after each use as recommended by the CDC.

Thanks for reading and I hope to see you all in Dallas at the 2023 AHE Annual Exchange Conference! In the meantime, be on the lookout for our new healthcare-specific HealthyClean™ training coming soon!