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Environmental Services Staffing Analysis: Advantages of Inventory Plus Methodology Over Benchmarking

By February 20, 2020EVS Learning Center

Environmental Services Staffing Analysis - Inventory Plus Methodology Over Benchmarking

In the environmental services industry, it is not uncommon for a staffing analysis benchmarking report to come back with a potential for significant savings if it can be successfully implemented. At the same time, it’s not uncommon for EVS departments to struggle to implement the recommended changes while maintaining quality and service levels. What is different between what the benchmark report says is possible and what EVS departments are grappling with? The difference is using statistical calculations derived from other hospitals versus actual data from the unique facility in question.

The problem with using benchmarking to determine EVS staffing levels is there are multiple factors outside square footage affecting staffing levels.

Benchmarking vs. Inventory Plus

The Benchmarking Methodology, the statistical method, compares data sets from multiple facilities and uses averages to prescribe the level of EVS staff needed per square foot. By definition, averages are just that – many facilities are higher, and many are lower. The problem with benchmarking numbers is there are multiples factors outside of square footage affecting staffing levels. Some of these activities are controlled for in the benchmarking numbers, but they vary greatly by facility. Also, controlling for all of these factors is difficult.

The Inventory Plus Methodology, the actual data method, entails analyzing the comprehensive data of the unique facility. It takes an actual inventory of the square footage of the facility, but it also captures the type of space by square footage, fixtures in the space, and acuity. Plus, it accounts for the other variables and tasks performed by EVS that aren’t related to site inventory. such as lock-ins, waste removal, non-productive time, etc. (See the full list of factors below).

3/5 stars - the average HCAHPS rating among US hospitals for cleanliness

Inventorying at the unique facility level, plus calculating time on non-inventory tasks, is always going to generate a more detailed, accurate, and reliable staffing analysis.

The Many Factors Affecting Staffing Requirement Calculations

Factors affecting staffing requirements:

  • Square footage
  • Type of space by square footage (what is the mix of office space, ERs, ORs, patient rooms, waiting rooms, etc.)
  • Volume of patient room discharges and transfer cleans
  • Patient room census occupancy
  • Management team to employee ratios and responsibilities of management team
  • Public area policing and porter duties (service request responses)
  • Paid break time per shift
  • Lock-In areas cleaned such as ER, L&D, NICU, Invasive Radiology, Surgeries, Cath Labs, etc. Basically, areas that need multi-shift EVS attention due to between case cleaning or constant turnover.
  • Non-cleaning tasks: such as meeting set ups or supply room stocking.

ES Optimizer facilities have a comprehensive site inventory database and a tool to run EVS staffing analyses.

Consider two facilities with the same square footage, but one difference in use of space: {border-top: none;width: fit-content;margin: auto;margin-bottom: 0;} tbody{margin:auto;} th{border:none!important; border-left: none!important; }

Facility A:

500,000 Square Feet

300 Patient Rooms

Facility B:

500,000 Square Feet

150 Patient Rooms

Facility A will need more man hours than Facility B to reach the same quality, whether it’s defined by perceived clean, customer satisfaction, or service level. The Inventory Plus Methodology does a better job at capturing all the details like this that are unique to individual facilities, and including them in the staffing calculations.

If benchmarking data is controlled for consistent factors between the facilities being compared, then resulting recommendations could be successful in actual operation. But, given the number of variables:

How many other facilities are there in the benchmarking pool that:

  1. Are similar to your own facility in all of these ways?
  2. Have the level of clean you aspire to? (The average HCAHPS rating among US hospitals for cleanliness is 3 out of 5 stars.)
  3. Are not understaffed? (Many hospital environmental services departments comprising the benchmark are understaffed. The trend in most facilities over time has been a continual decrease staff in response to hospital budget cuts. They tend to be operating understaffed, so benchmarking against other facilities could bring back artificially low expectations for the man hours needed to maintain quality in your facility.)

So, an Inventory Plus Methodology is what is really required to staff your unique facility properly. There is a tool to run this methodology that many (over 950) departments are using, called ES Optimizer.

The Database Tool to Manage Inventory & Calculate Staffing: ES Optimizer

If you are an ES Optimizer facility, you already have an inventory database and a tool to run staffing analyses based on your actual inventory plus the additional tasks and variables. ES Optimizer is an inventorying system that’s been implemented at 950+ facilities over more than 25 years. This tool can explain exactly why the facility can’t successfully implement a standard EVS benchmarking report, and it can tell you the consequences in terms of quality and tasks not done you can anticipate with any changes to staffing.

Here are some links to learn more about ES Optimizer:
ES Optimizer – Official Site (

ES Optimizer Product Details

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