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September 29, 2022

The Damaging Impact of High Janitorial Turnover Rates on Your Business (and Ways to Soften the Blow)

When your building or facility needs to be sanitized and your customer’s health and safety is on the line, you don’t have time to deal with subpar, haphazard cleaning. Even if the cleaning company you hire (or your in-house janitorial team) is well-intentioned, your overall customer satisfaction could be dropping 55% to 75% due to one systemic problem: janitorial turnover.

While turnover happens in any industry, janitorial turnover is sky high averaging between 200% and 400% per year. Due to a multitude of factors, from a lack of incentives to feeling undervalued, janitorial staff are prone to bailing, which can cause a ripple effect of issues for your company. 

Many companies experience high turnover with their own in-house janitorial teams. To avoid these problems many outsource only to find themselves at the mercy of a commercial cleaning company that can’t maintain a consistent workforce. Knowing the steps you can take now to mitigate the consequences of janitorial turnover could save you money, increase the efficiency and safety of your company, and prevent your customer satisfaction ratings from plummeting.

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Why Consistent Employment and Performance Is Essential

High turnover rates are rough on not just the hired cleaning company, but also -- and arguably more so -- on the company who hires the janitorial team. Yes, an outsourced cleaning company will deal with exorbitant training costs (with a 200% turnover rate that is 200 lost employees for a team of 100), decreased efficiency, and inevitably decreased quality with needing to onboard a revolving door of new employees. However, if you are hiring these cleaning companies knowing that one in two hires will inevitably quit within a short period of time, you are paying an incredible price. Not to mention, if you are bringing people in as employees, you’re taking on more risk and exposure for having to pay additional expenses such as unemployment claims, and any other issues that may arise. 

Common issues associated with high turnover that affect your business include:

  • Substandard work and poor cleaning practices: If a cleaning company is continually having to train new employees, the quality of work can suffer. Highly trained and experienced cleaners understand how to properly target high-touch surfaces, clean for a variety of building types and industries, and utilize the latest technology for optimal cleaning standards. Properly executed, sanitization can kill up to 99.9999% of enveloped viruses, including SARS-CoV-2 (the virus responsible for COVID-19). Inadequate cleaning and sanitization services could leave your company or organization wide open to illness and contagions. 
  • Bottom line increases: While the outsourced company also experiences bottom line increases due to extra costs for training, the business doing the outsourcing also suffers financially. If you hire one company that does an inadequate job, you waste money hiring yet another team to make up for the previous company’s poor performance. This domino effect could continue unless you invest in a cleaning company with solid employee retention strategies in place.
  • Security and safety issues: Exemplary commercial cleaning companies follow strict security standards when hiring employees to keep their customers safe. With multiple employees coming and going, it can be difficult to maintain integrity within the company, especially if background checks and drug screenings are not thorough. Safety issues also abound without proper training and retention processes in place, ranging from putting your customers and employees in danger due to insufficient cleaning practices to potential liabilities in the case of the outsourced team not practicing general safety procedures. 

If you lean on your own in-house team for cleaning and sanitizing, high turnover can also affect you in the following ways:

  • Lack of knowledge transfer: Without having the resources and experience to implement employee retention, management, and training, managing your in-house team could be like playing a version of the old “telephone” game. While this is an issue experienced by commercial cleaning companies who don’t have suitable training and retention strategies locked in, this problem becomes even more of a headache for organizations with in-house crews because they are trying to balance retention practices on top of running their company. 
  • Inability to maintain a standard of cleanliness: Despite your greatest efforts, you won’t be able to maintain a standard of cleanliness if you experience high turnover. Similarly, if you outsource a company with high turnover rates you won’t be receiving your money’s worth of cleanliness. 


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Understanding Why Employees Leave Janitorial Teams/Companies

Before you start worrying about finding a solution to prevent the effects of high turnover, it’s helpful to understand why employees don’t stay long in janitorial positions. While there may be many variables that lead to janitorial staff leaving a company, the main reasons can be distilled down to five common factors.

  1. Invisibility. In the janitorial industry, it’s common for most cleaners to report directly to the site and are generally disconnected from the company. Without any check-ins or in-person relationships with their managers, these employees do not get feedback. They have no idea whether they are doing a good job or not,  and don’t feel motivated to become part of a team who works together toward boosting customer satisfaction and safety. Naturally, these employees start slacking or get bored -- and then leave. 
  2. Insufficient training programs and accountability standards. Subpar training programs and systems that do not foster accountability make it very hard to manage an employee’s performance, thus creating an employee that feels invisible, unimportant, or simply not encouraged or motivated. Insufficient training programs also quickly break down the integrity of the work a company tries to foster, leading to wasteful and counterproductive measures while turnover rates continue to escalate. 
  3. Inadequate HR and hiring processes. Poor HR practices and candidate screening can also lead to frequently hiring the wrong person for the job. When a company is less particular about matching the best candidates with a position, it will too easily attract the wrong people (who will leave inevitably after a short period of time). 
  4. Not feeling valued or appreciated. Similar to feeling invisible, an employee who does not feel valued as a part of a team or recognized for their effort will quickly drop off in productivity and motivation, often leading to resignation. Companies can prevent this by honoring work ethic and showcasing effort to provide examples to the rest of the team and increase morale.
  5. Lack of competitive benefits. When a company doesn’t pay its employees competitive wages or supply adequate health insurance, sick pay, and Paid Time Off, it’s easy for employees to look elsewhere for work, even if other aspects of the job are agreeable. 
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Many companies experience high turnover with their own in-house janitorial teams. To avoid these problems many outsource only to find themselves at the mercy of a commercial cleaning company that can’t maintain a consistent workforce.

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Real Solutions: How to Prevent Janitorial Turnover

A company can never truly eliminate turnover. Employees leaving for greener pastures is inevitable, but a company can certainly take steps to greatly reduce turnover rates. If you’re outsourcing, make sure you look for a company that espouses these management and training practices to safeguard against the issues high turnover could cause for your business. 

Even if you try to implement some of these tactics to slow turnover in your in-house team, we strongly recommend you leave cleaning, sanitizing, and janitorial staff retention to a commercial cleaning company, like Spotless Cleaning Chicago. That way you can relieve any pressure or extra costs you may inflict on your own company and allow a leader in commercial cleaning to take the guesswork out of maintaining a janitorial workforce that can ensure unparalleled cleaning standards. 

At Spotless, we provide the following solutions to reduce turnover and ensure consistent quality:

  • Employee-and relationship-focused systems. We provide regular onsite inspections at our customers’ buildings where we review employee performance and provide feedback after the inspection. We also provide surprise visits and use that time to reconnect and strengthen our relationships with our employees so they never feel left hanging. Our App for employee management allows our workers to clearly communicate with us and let us know how they’re feeling through a use of emotive updates. If they’re unhappy, we make sure we find out why and take steps to improve their situation. 
  • Monthly incentives. Every month, each area manager selects two employees for recognition. We also give out two cash awards each month to employees who go the extra mile. Plus, all awards and bonuses are posted on our application so all cleaners can see their peers creating examples of excellence. That steady stream of recognition and positive reinforcement inspires others to step up and achieve the same level of recognition. 
  • Competitive benefits packages. We ensure that all employees can view their benefits every month, including total compensation and 401k company matches. We also make sure pay stubs reflect employer-paid health insurance premiums and other perks so that employees can easily see that we’re consistently taking care of them. We offer classes and seminars that are not taught in schools, especially for blue collar workers. We host classes and seminars on financial budgeting, home buying,  and the importance of renters, life, and disability insurance to protect their financial well being. 
  • Innovative accountability programs in place. We noticed in the past that when we relied on an “honor system” of employee check-ins that performance quality decreased. Our application promotes efficient communication across all areas, managers, sites, and employees, allowing us to prevent no-shows and manage late arrivals. We also geo-fence your building to monitor clock-ins and clock-outs. They can only clock in or out if they are within the geo-fence, which prevents fudging timesheets. It ensures contract compliance, because we can see exactly when our cleaning team made it to your facility to start cleaning, and when they left. 
  • Exemplary training and technology. To ensure consistency of training, we’ve created all our own training videos that our supervisors use to onboard new employees.

    While we don’t expect our cleaners to learn everything from the videos, we combine the videos with field training, quizzes, and performance reviews to provide a strong foundation that fosters consistency. Our Applicant Tracking System (ATS) is also fully electronic, allowing us to monitor a new employee’s initial training and onboarding process. Before candidates come in for live training they have already gone through onboarding training, which ensures there is a higher buy-in and commitment from candidates.
  • Comprehensive hiring process. Our ATS allows us to have access to a steady stream of candidates and select the best candidates that will be a perfect match for the position, instantly weeding out those who may be a poor fit. An efficient pre-screening process helps us lower turnover from the get-go and ensures we’ll be paired with candidates who actually enjoy cleaning and providing stellar service to our customers.

    We also have a dedicated team for onboarding and who performs exit interviews that provides us insights to refine our processes. The robust HR technology and resources we have in place do require a major capital and time commitment, but it is what allows us to save time and money to onboard new team members and keep our turnover numbers low, passing the savings onto our customers. We track turnover in detail by area manager, helping us see negative trends before they become a bigger issue. If an area manager has higher turnover we can problem-solve to help improve their retention. Basically, we have retention down to a science, allowing us to ensure the highest standards of performance, cleaning, and care to our customers.

Other ways we combat turnover is by starting accounts with area managers, supervisor assistants, and floaters. Having this system in place allows us to cover call offs, vacations, and turnover with a dedicated team that knows the account because they were part of the startup team. Whenever we do experience turnover we cover and retrain seamlessly. Sure, it costs us more money to have redundancies in place, but you can’t put a price on peace of mind and knowing that your building is meeting or exceeding cleanliness, safety, and security standards day in and day out.

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Outsourcing Janitorial Work Is the Best Way to Reduce High Turnover Issues

You could drop everything you’re doing and try to optimize working and training conditions for your internal janitorial team, but that’s likely not the most strategic or sustainable solution. The best way you can avoid the issues inherent in high turnover rates is to outsource to commercial cleaning companies with proven low turnover rates, employee satisfaction, and consistently reliable performance. 

Going this route will allow you to focus on growing different aspects of your business instead of wasting energy and precious resources on fighting the current inadequate internal training programs and retention structure or the flimsy organization and subpar performance of a “cheap” commercial cleaning company. Instead, you can enjoy the consistency of a safe, reliable cleaning or sanitizing job, and the feeling that a professional cleaning team truly has your back. 

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Fight the damaging effects of janitorial turnover by turning over control to the professionals who have employee retention locked down. Contact us today to hire a high-performance team you can rely on. 

For Spotless Cleaning Chicago, this IS what we do. We build a better training program and employee environment based on proven retention strategies to ensure top-performing consistency for our clients, bring them highly effective and safe procedures to guarantee proper cleaning and sanitization, and give you peace of mind that the job will be done correctly every time.

Fight the damaging effects of janitorial turnover by turning over control to the professionals who have employee retention locked down. Contact us today to hire a high-performance team you can rely on.  

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Keep Your Janitorial Needs in control. Reach out to us today for advice or to book an appointment.