Retain Top Talent in a Competitive Market

Your highest-performing and happiest employees may also be your highest paid

Retain Top Talent in a Competitive Market

When the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed its monthly jobs report in February 2018, the unemployment rate was 4.1 percent for the fourth consecutive month, remaining at its lowest level in 17 years.

Low unemployment numbers should, on the one hand, give maintenance business owners and facility managers reason to smile. Along with many other employers, we have been able to provide people an opportunity to earn a living, which has resulted in lower unemployment. On the other hand, a shrinking employment pool can make hiring and retaining employees more difficult, as workers have the luxury of being selective when choosing their employer. People are willing to test the waters and job hop in an economy where their skills and experience are in demand. This scenario holds true for people seeking managerial positions as well as for lower wage earners.

How can a commercial cleaning company or facility manager retain hard-working, laser-focused team members to ensure the highest levels of service in cleaning and maintaining our facilities? Here are some tips:

Remember: Money Talks

While people want to work for companies they feel good about, at the end of the day, they are motivated to work for the paycheck they receive. If you’re paying team members minimum wage and they are going to get US$1 more per hour elsewhere doing the same work, it makes sense that, when offered another job, they’d prefer a place where they will collect thousands of dollars more over time.

Some companies fail to understand the cost impact of losing strong team members when weighing whether to give raises. While you may question whether paying someone an extra $3,000 during the course of the year is going to be worth it, consider the cost of training that employee’s replacement should they leave. The costs associated with hiring and training people may far exceed the additional pay.

Worse yet, if you lose a consistent employee and make a bad hire in his/her place, it could potentially cost you thousands of dollars in the long run. For example, imagine the financial impact of losing a quality team member, replacing that person with someone who doesn’t meet expectations, and then losing a profitable account because service declined. Losing that ongoing revenue stream is going to be far more painful than paying a standout employee a little more to ensure that a client stays satisfied.

Focus on the Culture

Those of us in the commercial cleaning industry should think critically about the type of work environment we want to create. Whether you’re a manager or you own your own business, one of the best ways to retain top talent is to create a culture that shows the company cares for its team members.

Full-time employees are going to spend as many waking hours working with you as they spend with their own family. So, it’s important to make them feel at home amid their daily tasks and activities.

Focus on building relationships with team members. For example, have monthly team meetings where colleagues talk about business, but also build community. Promote people who work hard and embrace the organization’s culture—and on the flipside, realize there are times when it is best to part ways with team members who do not embrace the culture. The last thing that any company needs is for team members to poison the well. Keeping the atmosphere positive is going to make things more efficient and help you meet goals.

Also, consider your employees’ needs. Recently, we had an employee who was in a bind figuring out a child care solution for her newborn, but we valued her service and wanted to keep her on staff. We discussed our options and created an environment with flexible hours because we realize the inherent value of good team members.

Provide Additional Perks

While team members appreciate fair pay and a positive atmosphere, there are other perks you can offer to help motivate and retain your best people.

Reward team members with bonuses for a job well done. Or consider offering holiday bonuses across the organization. Some companies come up with creative ways to reward employees, such as paying for workers’ vacations after they’ve been with the company for 10 years. Another idea is to reward a single parent employee by offering a small scholarship for a college-bound child. It’s all about building relationships and being a part of your employees’ lives.

Even small perks can go a long way. For example, give gift cards to employees who have a standout month, or celebrate staff appreciation days by providing donuts or lunch for the office. Celebrating birthdays—–gathering everyone together for a slice of cake during a midday break—also can help you create a familial culture, making employees feel good about their work environment. Be proactive about creating bonds and a cohesive team.

Promote a Culture of Growth

Beyond perks and starting pay, there is one other way to motivate top employees to stay with you for the long haul—promotion. Create a culture where growth—both individually and as an organization—is encouraged. For a commercial cleaning business, growth can come in a very literal sense: expanding a franchise, hiring more team members, and landing accounts. Facility managers and maintenance teams can grow too. Establish leadership opportunities for team members, promote from within, and help people build their professional skills. Encourage training in new cleaning techniques, new technologies, and industry best practices, but also stress important people skills, such as how to manage a team and grow as a servant leader.

In short, create a culture where every team member feels as if they can contribute and grow within your company.

Be Transparent

Last, but certainly not least, place your company’s values and mission at the forefront of what you do. Yes, business is about making money. And our role in the cleaning and maintenance industry is to ensure facilities remain in pristine condition. But far deeper than that, we are collectively working together to achieve a common goal: to improve our lives through our business and professional experiences.

If you want employees to truly invest in your company, you need to be a transparent and honest leader. Focus on your core values and lead by example.

As you build your team and staff, keep these elements top of mind. If you pay your people well and reward them for quality work, all while creating a growth-focused, transparent and positive workplace, chances are you’ll keep employees longer, run a more efficient operation, and bring a greater sense of purpose to everyone involved in the organization.

Posted On April 9, 2018

Tim Conn

President and Co-Founder of Image One USA

Tim Conn is president and co-founder of Image One USA, an Illinois-based commercial cleaning franchise expanding nationally. The organization believes in training franchisees in all facets of the business, including sales, operations, and quality control. The company has received recognition for franchise-owner satisfaction by the authoritative Franchise Business Review. For more information, visit or

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