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Building a Happy and Loyal Cleaning Team

Eight employee retention strategies that work

Building a Happy and Loyal Cleaning Team

The “Great Resignation” was born in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, when amid plentiful job openings workers left their positions in search of better pay, enhanced working conditions, and greater opportunities. The resignations have since slowed. According to Statista, monthly resignations decreased throughout 2023. However, it’s still true that if you want to retain and motivate cleaning staff, it’s important to take a multipronged approach.

Naturally, pay, benefits, and upward mobility within your organization are key to your retention strategy. However, particularly among younger staff—millennials and Generation Z—other factors are just as important. Recognition, flexibility, and meaningfulness all play an important part in retaining them. Consider the following eight strategies to motivate your new hires into becoming long-term employees.

1. Fine-tune your messaging

Matthew Serra, CEO of Mulberry Marketing Communications, recommended examining how you position your job openings. Reaching out to purpose-driven potential employees means changing how you talk about available cleaning roles.

For example, a clean workspace is vital to everyone’s well-being. “Cleaners are at the frontline when it comes to protecting families in schools, hospitals, and care homes,” said Serra. Highlighting this truth when you advertise for professional cleaning staff can generate more pride for existing workers and make new people more eager to find employment with you.

Professional cleaners don’t often receive a great deal of recognition or credit from society for their pivotal role. Therefore, it’s up to employers to elevate the importance of cleaning and they can
do this through how they talk about their available staffing positions.

According to Serra, it’s also vital to recognize your existing staff, as this not only motivates them but makes your vacancies more appealing. He suggested recognizing staff anniversaries in blog
posts and asking employees for quotes about what it’s like working for your company. These insights can then be shared across social media and as Serra says, “…it becomes fun for your team, they
love it, and it makes them feel embraced. But also, externally, if you’re looking for a vacancy and you see a company that is promoting its people and the hard work they do, that immediately becomes a more appealing place to work.”

2. Cover the basics with pay, benefits, and bonuses

Staff attraction and retention will be difficult if you are not offering a competitive pay and benefits package. Pay isn’t everything, but it needs to be appealing if you want to attract the best talent.
Think also in terms of the wider benefits package. Health insurance, retirement plans, life insurance, paid sick leave, enhanced parental leave, daycare, and the amount of annual vacation time on offer will all play a part in making your open positions more attractive.

Work-life balance is also increasingly important to people, so offering well-being programs that provide access to gyms, yoga classes, counseling, and even healthy snacks can make a difference.

3. Attract a wider talent pool with flexible working hours

Your company can enhance work-life balance by also offering flexible working hours. This flexibility allows people who have childcare, elder care, or other family commitments to apply for roles,
knowing they can choose hours to suit their needs.

Flexible work hours also give employees motivation to run their own business or to have a side hustle. As the BBC reported in March 2023, “Young workers are increasingly chasing multiple jobs and sources of income as they embark on their careers. And it could change the workplace for good.” Flexible working hours allow people to pursue opportunities that are meaningful to them, while also enjoying the security that a cleaning role can offer.

4. Remember that recruitment doesn’t end at the hire

Finding suitable candidates is only half the battle; making sure a new employee settles in well is the other part of the equation. This is where a well-thought-out onboarding process is vital.

New employees are more likely to stay around if they understand what’s expected of them. It’s also important that they have someone they can reach out to with questions or concerns. What might be obvious to a seasoned staff member might not be so clear to someone new to the job.

A 2018 study of 1,500 American workers by the recruitment firm Jobvite found that almost 30% of the workers surveyed left a new job within 90 days. A significant percentage said their day-today
job was not what they expected. Considering this, you can see how important it is to set expectations from the start and to support people as they settle into a new role.

5. Keep your staff safe

Since COVID-19, employees are even more aware of staying safe in the workplace. Ensure staff are always provided with the personal protective equipment (PPE) they need to perform their jobs
safely, including gloves, goggles, and masks.

In addition, keep employee safety training up to date. Employees who feel safe and who have all the equipment they need are more likely to want to stay in an organization they believe values them.

6. Retain staff with training and promotion opportunities

Mentorship programs, in-house training, and opportunities for employees to lead teams or projects can all help to motivate staff. Whenever possible, promote from within so that employees see that advancement is available to them.

Consider offering a rewards program that enables employees to earn points for meeting cleanliness standards, increasing efficiency, or improving customer satisfaction. Not only is the gamification of this program very motivating, employees can then exchange these points for bonuses, more time off, or other rewards, taking the program to the next level.

7. Build trust through open communication

Open communication is an often-overlooked motivational tool. Encouraging employees to give feedback about their daily tasks or their manager builds trust and helps workers feel valued.

Consider implementing a 360-degree appraisal system, where you confidentially gather reviews not just from your employee’s manager but from a range of sources including colleagues, vendors, and even clients. This approach to appraisals provides a more balanced perspective.

If you also review managers in this way, it can help their reports feel that there is less of a hierarchical system in place and that you are listening to their views. Plus, it can improve your overall leadership development process. According to Forbes, more than 85% of all Fortune 500 companies are now using the 360-degree feedback process.

8. Build team camaraderie

Remember that every employee is part of a wider team. If you can create feelings of trust, loyalty, and camaraderie within that team, people will be much happier about coming to work. You
can build camaraderie through group outings, seasonal events, or fun team-building exercises. Even a potluck lunch once a month can help people get to know each other better.

Recruiting and retaining cleaning workers might not be easy but it is possible, if managers and owners take a multifaceted approach. The basics, such as competitive pay and benefits, are essential, but they are not the complete picture. Ultimately, we all desire to believe that our work has a meaningful impact. If you can cultivate a sense of purpose among your employees regarding their contributions to the organization, they’ll be eager to come to work every day, ready to give their best.

Alison Wood

Freelance Writer

Alison Wood is a freelance writer who works with clients around the world on their content needs. Before running her own content business, Wood had 16 years of experience as a human resources manager for a blue-chip software company in the United Kingdom.

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