Value Your Cleaning Staff

How employee engagement is better for business

Who are the most important people in your cleaning organization?

If you answered, “the cleaning staff,” take a bow. You’re right on the money—figuratively and literally.

Unfortunately, due to the way most cleaning operations work, these are the very employees who often feel the least involved and appreciated. Let’s look at two examples.

Company A has a group of 15 cleaners servicing a large office building. They work primarily at night, so most of the office workers in the building never even see them. When Bill, as manager of the cleaning staff, holds his weekly staff meetings, he is constantly bombarded with complaints about their areas of operations and the people they serve. Additionally, they bicker among themselves over who does the most work, the best work, takes more time off, etc.

Company B has a group of 17 cleaners servicing a multi-tenant facility. They also work primarily at night, but the company allows some flextime so cleaners are able to interact with site staff on a regular basis. Lisa, manager of cleaning operations for Company B, also conducts weekly staff meetings. However, she often invites site personnel to sit in on those meetings and provide input. Her staff is encouraged to—and does—take part, making suggestions to improve operations.

Which of these cleaning organizations stands the best chance of success in their respective facilities? Company B is the correct answer, but why?

What Cleaners Want

Time and time again, the No. 1 complaint I hear from line-level cleaners is about a lack of respect. In digging further, they often say their customers see them as nonentities in their daily activities. This can leave them feeling devalued and in a constant search for something more meaningful.

What normally happens next is predictable. They may look for and find another job, which leaves the cleaning manager of Company A looking for a replacement. As you know, training a replacement is a costly venture, not to mention it causes inconsistency and interruption in service for your building customers.

During a recent visit to the ISSA/INTERCLEAN 2015 trade show and seminars in Las Vegas, NV, I met a number of people looking to improve their cleaning services through technology enhancements, products, etc. While improvements in these areas are very important, and in some cases, even critical improvements, you should not overlook the importance of engaging staff in the business of both serving and interacting with customers. This is another way to ensure success.

Everyone wants to feel valued. We want to feel as though what we do matters. Cleaners whose only contact with clients involves hearing their relayed complaints will feel invisible and unappreciated. With this in mind, we can see how Company B created an environment for success by:

  • Allowing cleaning and site staff to interact during regular work hours. Personal interaction encourages respect from both the service provider and the receiver.
  • Inviting site personnel to discuss issues directly with cleaners, rather than simply relaying their complaints.
  • Empowering cleaners to make suggestions and take part in problem solving.

Lisa’s employees are constantly reminded of the role they play in the success of both their cleaning organization and the customers they serve. This fosters a sense cooperation and ownership, leading staff to take pride in their work.

Cleaners in every sector are equally critical. However, we just need to collectively do a better job of letting others know the value that our people bring.


Posted On February 2, 2016

Lance Witschen

President of 1ClassConsulting

Lance Witschen, president of 1ClassConsulting and Scout Management Solutions, uses his years of experience to provide solutions for clients. Witschen is a co-author of Behind the Broom. For more information, visit or email [email protected].

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