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Three Steps to Finding and Keeping Great Cleaners

Posted By Erin L. Lasch CAE, Thursday, July 13, 2017
Updated: Thursday, July 13, 2017

By Michael Brown, Swept

 

If one of your daily responsibilities is hiring new cleaners, you know how difficult it can be to identify which candidates will make the best long-term employees. With the employee turnover rate in the janitorial industry ranging anywhere from 75% to upwards of 375%, finding and keeping great cleaners is a challenge faced by even the most experienced managers and owners. Yet many would agree that the effect of high employee turnover on your business goes far beyond the resources spent on hiring and training.

 

Tom Roberson, of Donely Building Services in Lake St. Louis, Missouri, says that while retaining good cleaners is the biggest challenge their business faces, finding a solution is very important. “You have to have the right cleaner to keep a customer,” says Roberson.

 

So what can you do to make sure you’re hiring the best cleaners for a job and keeping them as long as possible? This article looks at three ways to streamline your hiring processes and reduce your employee turnover rate.

 

Write Job Postings That Do Half The Work For You

 

While it can be tempting to quickly whip up a generic job posting to attract a wide variety of applicants and then screen them out when it comes time to schedule interviews, one of the biggest favors you can do yourself is to allow people to screen themselves out. Not only will it prevent you from wasting time communicating with those who are not a good fit for the job, but a descriptive job posting will actually attract higher quality cleaners.

 

To do this, brainstorm a list of questions people might have about the job, then break these questions down into categories — questions about what your company can offer the cleaner, questions about the cleaner’s role/responsibilities, and questions about the job requirements — and dedicate a portion of the job posting to answer each set of questions.

 

For example, you might call your first section the “Why Work With Us?” section. This is your opportunity to make your company stand out from the competition by providing a brief description of what you have to offer. Competitive wages? Flexible hours? Health coverage? A unique company culture? We also recommend saying where the job site is located and whether or not training will be provided in this section.

 

In the next section of your job posting — “Roles & Responsibilities” — focus on just that: the role and the responsibilities of the ideal applicant. This should include any expectations you have of the cleaners assigned to this job, such as the equipment they will need to know how to use, the specific duties for which they will be responsible, and whether or not they’ll be working alone or as part of a team.

 

In the “Requirements” section of your job posting, be sure to describe in detail what minimum requirements you’re looking for in an employee. Do they need to provide a criminal background check? Have their own car or cell phone? A certain amount of experience? Be able to speak or read English? Do heavy lifting or operate certain equipment? These types of questions are helpful for screening out applicants who aren’t right for a position.

 

Need some inspiration? Visit www.sweptworks.com/hiringguide for a sample job posting.

 

Create a Hiring System that Saves You Time and Money

 

Having spoken to countless cleaning companies about their hiring challenges, we’ve found that the majority say finding and training employees takes up a large portion of their time. Yet, when we ask a room full of owners / operators how many have a hiring budget in place, nearly every hand goes down. Likewise, when asked how many keep an up-to-date database of prospective cleaners from which they can hire for future jobs, the numbers are surprisingly low.

 

The reality is, if you don’t have systems in place to manage and speed up your hiring and training processes, you’ll spend more time and money than you realize (or need to spend) on these activities. To help improve your hiring and training processes we have two recommendations:

 

Use CleaningJobs.co

When hiring for a cleaning position you likely post your job description on a few different places online in order to reach potential hires — places like social media, job boards, Craigslist, etc. Before you do we highly recommend signing up for CleaningJobs.co. In a matter of minutes this free tool will help you create a job posting and generate a link which you can then share on the websites of your choice.

 

Then, when cleaners apply for your job they are sorted and ranked based on the criteria you specified for each position. Those who are the best match for a given job will float to the top while those better suited for another job will score lower. More importantly, the applications of anyone you don’t hire this time will still be available for future positions, meaning you always have a database of cleaners to refer to when it comes time to hire again.

 

Hold Group Training Sessions

 

A second strategy we recommend is doing all training in the form of weekly group training sessions. By designating a specific time and day each week for training new hires you’ll manage your time more effectively and budget for the time spent training. If a prospective hire is unable to make the training session they have the opportunity to do so the following week in order to be hired.

 

Invest in Employee Retention to Keep Your Best Cleaners

 

When it comes to the whether or not offering higher wages than competitors is an effective employee retention strategy, it seems the consensus in the industry is that while it’s important to pay cleaners fairly, money is not usually the most motivating factor.

 

Like many business owners, Diana Rodriguez-Zaba, partner at ServiceMaster Restoration by Zaba, feels that the key to employee retention is a company culture that emphasizes mutual respect between managers and cleaners. “Money is important, but how we treat them is most important”, says Rodriguez-Zaba.    

 

So how can you retain a good cleaner once you’ve hired them? We’ve learned from our own research and experience that there are three main things you should focus on delivering:

 

High Quality Training

Investing in a training program communicates not only to your customers that that quality is a priority, but also to your cleaners. The key to a great training program isn’t just to make sure your cleaners understand what is expected of them — but also why it’s expected. Taking the time to communicate the impact their work has on your customers’ day-to-day operations can help foster a sense of ownership and pride that leads to a job well done.

 

Ongoing Communication

Delivering great training to new employees is important, but the guidance shouldn’t stop there. Good cleaners want to do a good job, and it can be stressful when clear direction isn’t provided. This is particularly true when a cleaner starts working at a new location or is filling in for another staff member. Not only will your cleaners appreciate receiving clear cleaning instructions, but it will also help reduce the load on your management team who are called on to answer questions — often during their non-working hours.

 

Respect & Appreciation

When staff work remotely, it's easy for managers to overlook the effort they put forward. When doing inspections, make sure that cleaners know not only when something has gone wrong but also when things are done right. Asking great questions, reporting problems right away, and always showing up on time are all great examples of cleaner behaviour that should be acknowledged. Going one step further, many companies have successfully started an employee recognition program that highlights small wins to the team in a public way.

 

For more ideas on employee recognition programs or investing in cleaner retention in general visit www.sweptworks.com/blog

 

When it comes to hiring cleaners, many business owners / operators learn to effectively screen out unqualified candidates — for instance those who simply would not be a good match in terms of skill set or company culture. But identifying, and more importantly, keeping track of those who may not be a good fit for a particular job, but would be the ideal candidate for a future position, is something many in the industry have yet to master.

 

Likewise, with so many other things competing for your attention on a daily basis it’s easy to neglect showing appreciation for your employees who are doing a great job. But as Leo Stein, Director of Human Resources at LandCorp puts it, “If it wasn’t for our crew members in the field no one here at Landcorp would be where they are today.” That mentality is one we feel every janitorial business owner should adopt.

 


 

When Michael Brown owned a cleaning company he developed technology to help him find the best cleaners and then keep them engaged once they were on his team. Over a two year period, his cleaner turnover was less than 10%!  After expanding into multiple cities, he sold his company so he could focus on creating innovative technologies in the janitorial industry. You can get in touch with Michael at Swept at mbrown@sweptworks.com.

 

 

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