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If you want to have a good team that sticks, then you’ll need to look for good qualities in your applicants and have good leadership in place. The two go hand in hand and are essential to obtaining success in the current cleaning industry. Undeniably, the hard truth to swallow is the industry’s high turnover rate which scales around 200%. While it stands as an incredible number, it’s also an incredible challenge to combat as cleaning organizations begin to recognize the need for radical change in not only their hiring techniques but their internal processes as well when it comes to effective leadership throughout day-to-day interactions. 


Boc Blog Post Note

Mike Sawchuk, from Sawchuk Consulting, alludes in his appearance on the Business of Cleaning podcast for September 2022, that a cleaning business will never succeed without strong leadership and an employee will never stay with a company that lacks the leadership to provide proper support and a clear mission to follow. One without the other is destined for failure.

Mike states, “You can’t reach your aspirational goals whether you’re a BSC or In-House Provider without great leadership. Great leaders will develop high ROI.” Undoubtedly, this ROI involves individuals and not just dollars and cents.  

From determining the initial motivator that spurs an applicant to apply, through the onboarding stage and beyond, there are key factors and attributes that leaders within a cleaning organization can look for and supply that will allow their employees to flourish, and hopefully, desire to remain with the company. While the goal is to lessen or eliminate resignations, in the event of these inevitable occurrences, leadership can take time to analyze and improve upon existing processes to lessen the odds of the cycle happening again within a short period of time.

Role of Leadership in Retaining Good Employees

  • Have a set mission and core values to live by 

Employees not only need but arguably, inherently desire, a mission to work for as that provides them with direction and purpose.  

  • Understand what motivates the employee 

Analyze what the individual’s main drive is in applying to your cleaning organization. As Mike Sawchuk points out, it’s important to take a deeper look at the initial driver through a different lens – one differentiating the distinction between a job and a calling. Is the applicant motivated by money or the career ladder or do they see their position as a fulfillment of a calling? Aim to hire individuals who view cleaning as a calling as they will see their job as personal fulfillment and making a difference in the lives of others. 

  • Be honest and upfront when interviewing 

Don’t be afraid to lay out the nitty gritty when it comes to job duties and responsibilities.  In fact, you need to. When clear expectations are laid out, there is no room for confusion and frustration down the road once the dotted line is signed. 

  • Provide the necessary training 

If clear directions are not given, nor adequate job and safety training provided, how can leadership expect success out in the field? 

  • Understand the need for work/life balance 

This is key in avoiding worker burnout. Ensure that schedules are created fairly and are set to serve the strengths of the scheduled employee. Give continual support to your team to show you genuinely care for their well-being and success in all areas of life – not just in the world of clean. 

Furthermore, Mike brings up a fundamental point that leadership isn’t just for owners and those at the top. Rather, effective leadership is needed in all positions throughout one’s cleaning organization. “Leadership isn’t a title,” he says.  This is a great concept to focus on as leaders are those who motivate and inspire within the workplace. He continues that leaders are those who cultivate an environment of trust and respect while reflecting the company’s mission and values.  Interestingly, a Gallup study showed that 50% of employees have left their job at some point in their life due to dissatisfaction with their manager. This just amplifies Mike’s point. If employees lack a leader to look up to within their workplace and feel unsupported in their duties, then that feeling of isolation and neglect will have a negative impact on their outlook of the job, ultimately leading to resignation. 

Leadership Isn'T A Title Quote

Qualities Leaders Should Look for in the Hiring Process

  • Integrity
  • Honesty
  • Respect
  • Authenticity
  • Smarts 
  • Genuineness 

     As Mike Sawchuk puts it, “never hire for skills and experience, hire for attitude and traits.”  While this may seem surprising at first glance, it makes total sense. You can always train someone to meet the needs of your cleaning operation, but it’s a whole lot harder to change someone’s attitude.  

    Never Hire For Skills And Experience. Hire For Attitude And Traits Quote

    Lastly, Mike provides cleaning organizations with steps to employ when they do experience loss of employees. 

    What to Do in the Face of Resignations 

    • Take a look at how leadership can be bettered. What areas are in need of improvement where leadership was lacking? 
    • Determine and measure KPIs such as employee satisfaction, engagement, and retention rate. 
    • Review data and reach out for assistance from HR or a retention specialist. 

    If your team is leaving in droves, then that’s the signal that leadership needs to step in and step up. 

    All that being said, while the staggering turnover statistic might still paint a glimmer of doom and gloom in your eyes, keep in mind Mike Sawchuk’s consulting wisdom – when authenticity, support, honesty, transparency, and values are put back into the forefront of a business’ culture, hiring, and onboarding practices, change will indeed occur when it comes to employee retention.  One change today within your cleaning organization can be the spark that fuels change within other cleaning operations. When that happens, the light at the end of the high turnover tunnel will be closer than you think. 

    About Our Guest(s):

    Mike Sawchuk

    Mike Sawchuk

    Owner - Sawchuk Consulting

    Mike Sawchuk is a Senior Operations, Sales, and Business Development leader in the cleaning industry with over 30+ years of experience under his belt. He has worked extensively with both building service contractors and in-house unionized custodial staff across all academic levels.

    Mike is a Cleaning Industry Management Standard Certified Expert (CIMS-ISSA), holds a BA in Business Administration from Brock University, an MBA from McMaster University, and has graduated from UL University’s Lean Sigma Green Belt Training, which included mastering Lean and Six Sigmamethodology. You can connect with Mike on LinkedIn or visit his website to learn more about what he does.  Mike is offering a 9-week online training program in the month of September that you can register for here.

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