Turnover is bankrupting your business. Find out how to hire cleaning staff that sticks with you.
Figuring out how to hire cleaning staff is easy enough. You run an ad on Craigslist, call back the first person that seems reasonable, put them on the job, then repeat three weeks later when that person quits. Janitorial staff is a dime a dozen. It’s a bit of a pain to keep hiring people, but you don’t put much time or thought into the process, so it doesn’t really matter.
Or maybe you do spend time reading through applications, finding the right person, and even calling references. You pay a bit over minimum wage, and your new hire sticks around for a while. Your clients like him, he does good work, and then in five months, he’s gone – moved on to somewhere else.
Neither one of these situations is ideal for you, for your team, or for your clients. Regular turnover decreases the effectiveness and efficiency of your operation. It hurts morale, frustrates clients, and frankly, it doesn’t do anything for the public perception of your business.
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How to hire cleaning staff: Your 7-step guide to a polished team
There are plenty of business gurus that will tell you how to hire cleaning staff. Some of them will have wildly different ideas on what that looks like. However, almost every person who runs a successful cleaning business will tell you that there are some tried and true ways to build a team that you can count on to stay with you for a while.
1. Hire carefully.
There is no single “right” person for any job. What’s often essential in an employee, however, are the traits that don’t necessarily show up on paper. Are they easy to get along with? Do they like to learn? Are they reliable? Experience can certainly be helpful, but don’t overlook those essentials that will add to your customers’ experience. One very simple way to check on these traits is to call their references.
2. Hold an audition.
When you narrow your selection down to a few applicants, see what they’re like on the job. Invite them to work a three- or four-hour paid shift to see if they take initiative or ask good questions. This gives you or one of your team supervisors a chance to work with someone and get a feel for how they might be as a coworker.
3. Money isn’t everything, but it helps.
There’s a lot more to keeping good employees than money. However, you also can’t expect people to stick around if you’re only paying minimum wage. Finding the balance between covering your business expenses and paying people a fair wage can be tough. There are creative ways to conquer this problem, even if you can’t afford to pay higher wages. Consider a quarterly or semi-annual profit-sharing program. Offer monthly bonuses for meeting goals or randomly hand out gift cards.
4. Offer predictability.
Little is more frustrating to an employee than an inconsistent schedule. Your clients are on a schedule, so do whatever you can to keep your employees on that same schedule. Remember, they have lives outside of work, as well as bills to pay. If a client takes a week off, find something around the office for your employee to do, or offer to sign them up for a skills training or certification class. Do whatever you can to give them the hours they would usually have.
5. Offer benefits.
Employees want benefits. If you can offer health benefits, you’ll take a considerable step in attracting and holding onto employees that value working with you. Sick days and vacation days are helpful, too. You don’t have to offer the biggest, best benefits package out there, but there are lower-cost options that you could start with and gradually upgrade.
6. Invest in your onboarding.
Even when you have the experience, starting a new job can feel stressful. Ensure your onboarding process is thorough. Be clear on company standards and operating procedures. Make sure they know who to talk to if there are any questions. Take the time to train them on the job. Any time you put into this will pay off for your clients and for you.
7. Offer respect.
You can offer excellent pay, benefits, and a great schedule, but if you don’t treat your people well, they will leave. The most effective way to bring in and retain a good janitorial staff is to treat them the way you want to be treated. Be honest, be transparent, and be human. Don’t micromanage. Don’t treat your employees like an easily replaceable commodity. Say hello to them and ask them how they are doing at the beginning of a shift. At the end of a shift, find out if there’s anything they need that would help them with their work.
How to hire cleaning staff: What not to do
Part of hiring a good team is creating a reputation as an excellent place to work. There are, of course, plenty of ways to do that. Good online reviews and local awards are helpful. There are also some things you may want to avoid.
For example, some commercial and residential cleaning companies constantly run employment ads, hoping to build a supply of job candidates that they can start calling as soon as they need someone. The problem here is that if you are asking someone to fill out applications and send in resumes when you aren’t, in fact, hiring, you’re wasting their time.
Additionally, if you are “always” hiring, people (both potential employees and potential customers) may wonder why you can’t retain staff.
Ultimately, the real secret to learning how to hire cleaning staff that will stay with you is to treat them well. And that’s not just good for them; it’s good for your business.
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