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One of the most essential traits of a well-oiled commercial cleaning business is a high-quality team of employees. However, according to a recent survey from Procter & Gamble Professional, keeping these employees on-board was listed as one of the most significant struggles experienced by cleaning supervisors:

1. Quality of work (55%)

2. Lack of interest, motivation or dedication (45%)

3. Employee turnover (34%)

Janitorial Employee Retention: A Pricey Problem

Jim Peduto, from the American Institute for Cleaning Services (AICS), says, “Turnover is systematically high within all service industries, commercial cleaning in particular. If you look at surveys of what’s important to people in the cleaning industry, turnover is always in the top five.”


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So, how can you improve your janitorial employee retention?

Provide Quality (and Ongoing!) Training

Sharon Cowan is the chairman and president of Cleaning Business Consulting Group. She identifies ‘labor’ as the number ONE cost for most contractors across the board, “If a company has to train new people, it can really drive labor costs up—and the ROI when those employees leave quickly is zero.”

However, this isn’t to say you shouldn’t seriously invest in properly training your employees. In fact, in order to improve your janitorial employee retention rate, providing adequate training is actually one of the best investments you can make!

Management gurus, Ferdinand Fournies (Why Employees Don’t Do What They’re Supposed to Do and What to Do About It), Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman (First Break All the Rules), all stress the fact that a satisfied employee (read: one who is far less likely to jump ship!) knows exactly what is expected from him or her at work every day.

The responsibility of ensuring that this happens lands squarely in your lap. You must be very intentional about communicating goals, identifying roles, and explaining responsibilities to each of your employees so that they feel secure, confident, included and invested. It can be a challenge to remember what trainings have been completed and what benchmarks have been reached by each employee. Consider incorporating the Janitorial Manager software into your operations so that you can keep a constant eye on each employee’s progress and performance.

Recognition is KEY

A benefit of having managerial roles in your business is that it provides an opportunity for career progression. This target to aim at is a proven deterrent to janitorial employee turnover. Watch for employees who learn quickly, consistently perform well and who show the traits necessary for quality leadership.

One way of tracking outstanding employees are through regular performance reviews. Performance reviews that link pay levels to consistent performance levels are helpful tools for reducing employee turnover because employees feel more motivated when there are ways for their above-average efforts to be recognized and rewarded.

The information for you to review with your employees should be easily gleaned from simple, easy-to-read inspections reports that indicate how well (or how poorly!) each individual has done. Inspections reports, like those available through the Janitorial Manager software, are game-changers! Hard data makes performance conversations straightforward and difficult to refute.

Although being offered a new position, a pay raise or other monetary rewards or bonuses may make your ‘thank you’ more appreciated, these aren’t the only ways to recognize a job well done. Sometimes all it takes to keep your team members loyal to staying with you, is your willingness to verbalize appreciation to them. When you express to them your genuine gratitude and praise, they will respect you, appreciate you and want to impress you even more.

Manage Schedules Effectively

Another important way to ensure that you minimize employee turnover is to avoid overworking your employees. You shouldn’t expect overtime work from those who don’t want to take it on. Nor should you over-assign extra hours to those who do want it, so that they burn out.

Juggling employees’ work hours can be made much simpler by utilizing an online program like Janitorial Manager. Built-in scheduling software and hours tracking apps help you monitor and manage employees’ availability, automate notification and cancellation emails, and specify the level of access you want to give your staff members so that your managers can be given the ability to coordinate their own teams’ schedules.


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Establish a big-picture purpose for tasks

When you periodically meet with each of your employees (and you should meet with each of your employees periodically!) to learn more about their abilities, expectations and goals, take a moment to personally emphasize the value of the work that they are accomplishing in their work hours.

Brian Mamo is the director of business development at Michigan-based janitorial service and building maintenance company, Stathakis, Inc., which works on a number of hospitals and ambulatory sites. He often stresses the ‘why’ behind the work the cleaners do.

“We tell them, ‘Somebody can look at this as mopping a floor and cleaning toilets, but what you’re doing is important because you’re stopping the spread of disease and germs, and what you do affects anyone who is sick and all employees in this building,’” Mamo says. This approach has resulted in the company maintaining an approximately 70% turnover rate… which is far below the industry average of almost 200%!

“If you just hire somebody and don’t tell them much about the company, to them, their job is meaningless,” he says.

Keep Your Quality Employees!

If you’re one of the many cleaning companies struggling with the challenges that come with janitorial employee retention, it’s time you started managing your business differently.

When you consider the costs of constantly having to hunt and hire new talent, you quickly discover that it’s an expensive process… especially when it is necessary to do multiple times a the year! Give the Janitorial Manager team a call to schedule a FREE DEMO of this affordable software that can help you start redirecting the dollars you spend chasing new hires, towards building a more successful cleaning business.

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