Manufacturing COVID Cleanliness & the Skilled Labor Shortage

manufacturing covid-19 cleanliness workforce shortageManufacturers already struggling to find workers are dealing with another monumental obstacle to hiring: the COVID-19 pandemic. Pandemic-related unemployment benefits and even concerns about COVID-19 infection in the workplace are taking a toll. Those manufacturing businesses hoping to overcome these obstacles may want to reflect on some good old fashioned childhood advice from mom: clean your room.

It comes as no surprise that Betco, a Bowling Green-based commercial cleaning manufacturer reports a major shift in the priorities and needs of commercial customers related to facility cleanliness. Vice President for Brand Marketing Barrett Betz says they’ve seen an increase in their customers’ commitment to creating awareness among workers when it comes to hand hygiene and disinfection, as well as safety measures like social distancing. Betco has also changed its own protocols. And, if you’re looking for best practices related to keeping a manufacturing facility clean, who better to ask than a manufacturer of cleaning products.

Betco’s Approach

“We have implemented what we call a ‘Collaborative Cleaning’ program, called Clean Core, in which our team members are responsible for cleaning and disinfecting their workspaces, as well as actively disinfecting any facility areas they have been occupying for meetings, eating lunch, etc. after usage to ensure surfaces stay clean and safe,” says Betz. “This is something we have seen our customers, specifically in the education market, adopt as well. We feel this is an easy and useful strategy to get people working together to maintain safety within facilities.”

Health & Safety: A Priority

There’s no question that health and safety are top priorities for manufacturers as they handle their response to the pandemic. Taking strong measures to protect your workers is essential. Communicating your commitment to potential new hires may be equally important. Betz says he thinks safety and cleanliness are very strong messages right now for manufacturers looking to hire new team members, as we all want to stay healthy and not risk exposure to COVID-19.

“Making people feel comfortable by instituting proactive and collaborative cleaning measures such as our Clean Core initiative is one way to not only make them feel safe, but encourage participation towards a common goal,” he says.

James Smith is a VP with Cleveland-based Rust Belt Recruiting. His company focuses strictly on the skilled trades, and helping manufacturers looking to fill positions including welders, technicians, and manufacturing engineers, as well as more professional level roles like purchasing and operations. He says he sees many challenges in the skilled trades shortage: the wage gap, not enough people having an interest, the unemployment surplus during the pandemic, and concerns about the virus. He says you need to be sure you can welcome in new staff with open arms, but to do it as safely as possible. He notes the pandemic has been a bit of an eye opener for some employers.

“I think its general cleanliness as well that probably a lot of these manufacturers didn’t see how they were underperforming in that area, having a clean and safe work environment.”

Jeff Doepker is CEO and President of The Doepker Group, a professional recruiting firm with offices across Northwest Ohio and a specialization in manufacturing. He says the appearance of a manufacturing facility, in terms of cleanliness, can speak volumes, and not just about cleaning practices.

“If a company pays attention to health and safety protocols and is clean and well kept, it’s probably a detail-oriented business,” he says. “It can be a good indicator of how a business is run in general. So as a potential new hire, look around. If you see a clean well-run, organized facility, that’s a good sign.”

COVID-19 Safety

What does safety look like now in a manufacturing facility? The changes due to the pandemic are quite dramatic. Here’s some of what Smith and Betz say they’re seeing:

  • Health questionnaires before entrance
  • Temperature checks upon entrance
  • Hand sanitizer/workspace sanitizing
  • Mask mandates
  • Social distancing
  • Staggered attendance to limit building occupancy
  • Staggered daily activities, including lunch times
  • Virtual and phone call recruiting interviews with follow up on-site visits

Betz says demand has been high for a number of Betco’s products during the pandemic, including hand sanitizers, skin cleansers and disinfectant products. While its critical to have these products on hand for workers, he says educating your staff is equally important: creating awareness and encouraging participation amongst team members and visitors. He says some of their customers - educational facilities across the country - have gone to the next level, adopting a Betco program called Enhanced Facility Disinfection which includes:

  • Properly assessing risk
  • Developing protocols
  • Creating best practices for maintaining cleanliness and disinfection
  • Creating awareness within school buildings

Educate & Communicate

But, don’t think you’re all set if you’ve established these protocols. Now you need to remind your people and remind them again. Communication is key. Educate your staff, develop signage to keep workers informed, and communicate clearly, not only to staff, but to any visitors, and most definitely potential new hires. And, Betz says, don’t expect this to go away. Things aren’t going back to the way they were.

“I believe the increased emphasis on hand hygiene, facility cleanliness, and disinfection are absolutely here to stay, although strategies to successfully implement and reach facility cleaning and safety goals will evolve as the industry continues to innovate.”

Smith says while the pandemic has put many people out of work and compounded the labor shortage in manufacturing, there is a bright note for anyone in search of a career opportunity in manufacturing.

“If you have a skill, learned a trade, your services are certainly needed and in high demand right now.”


If you’d like to learn more about COVID-19 health and safety measures or the Betco products and services Barrett Betz discussed, you can get in touch online or call 888-GO-BETCO.

Learn more about The Doepker Group and search open positions.

Learn more about Rust Belt Recruiting and see their list of current openings.

Established in 1996, Gilmore Jasion Mahler, LTD (GJM) is the largest public accounting firm in Northwest Ohio, with offices in Maumee and Findlay. Locally owned, GJM offers cloud-based accounting and provides comprehensive services including assurance, business advisory, tax, risk advisory, healthcare management and outsourced accounting. The firm’s professionals specialize in industries including construction & real estate, healthcare, manufacturing & distribution and utilities.

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