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The cleaning industry is a high staff turnover industry “why”.

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The cleaning industry is a high staff turnover industry “why”.

Is it because it’s a low paying job, is it because it is deemed menial job, or because we the population don’t value the occupation or the work that cleaners/janitors perform.
I believe that it is all of the above and more. Cleaners/janitors perform a necessary function to society as a whole. In my last post I showed the value of what cleaners are to our society. The important function they provide the value to all of us in keeping us safe.

So why do we de-value their input. We are a service industry and by its very nature we rely on our employees (cleaners) to perform a service. When that service is not to our clients or the populations expectations then why do we de-value the service. All service businesses that sell a service rely on employees/workers to perform that service or job. Employees/workers work for companies or other people they provide a function relative to the success of the business. Every service business is selling an intangible commodity. That commodity is the people that we employee to perform the service that we sell. So why do we de-value the very thing that we sell.

As a cleaning company owner I know the problems that we all face when managing a workforce that we are relying on to enhance our brand. One of the things that I have learnt is to value the work that my employees do for me. Yes our employees don’t always do what is expected but I am yet to see a model employee who is brilliant and does what I pay him/her for perfectly every day. And to be truthful neither do I. Do you do everything that your clients expect every day, I doubt it. So why is the cleaning industry so de valued in the eyes of our clients. Why if we are so bad why  don’t they do it themselves if they think that it can be done better every single day. Are their employees so perfect? Is their staff doing everything that needs to be done perfect every day? I doubt it in fact I know that this does not happen.

“We are stripping your foyer tonight please remove everything off the floor so that we can have access, and inform the tenants and their employees that we will be starting at 11.00pm and there will be  no access to the area”.  

11.00pm nothing moved, “I need to get over there!?”” did you not get the memo?”.”What memo?”  4 hours later half the area finished people walking over polish. Arghh I give up we will come back tomorrow night.

8.00am and irate building service manager:

“Are your people useless they only got half the floor done, and there is footprints in the polish!”? And you respond “did you inform everyone?” “Of course I did I sent out a memo?” Then my classic line is “you have staff and I have staff!”” SO!?” ” Did they follow your instructions exactly as you had asked?””That’s different I can’t control everybody’s actions nor can I control how they think!”

The penny drops. We all need to realise that as employers that not everything goes as planned and not everyone does what we say. But that is not to say that we should de value the work that they provide or do. We need to understand what is important to our people and understand that sometimes they will not do what we ask. But we shouldn’t de value the function they perform. Rather we should be empathetic and understand what did and could go wrong. We should value what our staff do on a nightly basis; they are the ones whom are earning us money, enhancing our brand, selling our service. Train them the right way, show them you care about them, and ask them about their life, value them and their work. They will serve you longer and with more loyalty. Jump on them when there is consistent failures or move them on in a nice and proper way.  But I regularly check on them real regularly and I talk to them about things other than work, I help them when they need it e.g. to get a loan. Most employees know when they have not performed as they should; gentle persuasion is all that is needed most of the time. One of my favourite sayings is “you are cleaning for your job, we won’t get extra money for performing great work, we will only ever keep the work we have” and there is plenty of other people willing to earn the money that you are earning. Most don’t like me to say that but I am not being nasty it is true for me as well, and I explain that. This usually does the trick. A job is worth more than unemployment benefits. Engage your staff on a personal level, train them well, supervise their work and value the work that they do. Your turnover rate will reduce dramatically and your  doctor and business will thank you for it. More importantly educate your clients to the value that you and your staff perform and how you help their business function.

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  1. Shaun says:

    Labour turnover is a big problem in low pay and low skilled jobs. This high labour turnover is not so much of a problem with this type of job as training and recruitment costs for low skilled jobs are very small for businesses. This is why the pay is so low. Each employee is easy and cheap to replace.

    • Shaun, it costs approximately $500 per employee to hire a new cleaner so I wouldn’t say that it is not a problem. I don’t know of any business who could not afford to save or reduce these costs. When you add the costs of how much untrained staff can cost your business if you lose contracts, then I would say that training and a recruitment should be high on a cleaning companies list to enhance as lower staff turnover, reduces costs and improves contract retention, and more importantly lowers owners stress levels. Thank you Shaun for you comments I really appreciate it.

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