How to Fight (and Win) the Battle of Cleaner Turnover

Read Time: 6 mins

It’s no secret that hiring and retaining qualified staff for your cleaning company is one of the top challenges that Building Service Contractors (BSC) have struggled with for decades.

This challenge topped CMM Magazine’s BSC Business Roundup again this year, reporting that 85% said Recruiting and Retaining staff was their number one challenge. Employee turnover is expensive and can disrupt your client’s service.

We know, from our days as a cleaning company, that it is difficult to grow a business on a shaky foundation. That’s why we focused on implementing strategies to combat this revolving door of employees and making it one of our core strengths which gave us a leg up on our competition.

The good news is that there are a bunch of reasons why employees stay with a company that aren’t related to pay. An employee recognition program is a low-cost, high impact solution that you can start implementing right away.

Employee Recognition = Employee Retention

Employee recognition is an integral part of your retention strategy because it leads your employees to feel a greater sense of satisfaction for their job and loyalty to your company. Giving recognition to employees gives them a better sense of belonging. When they feel more connected to their job beyond just a pay check, it’s possible to get more satisfaction from their work and they'll be more inspired to go above and beyond.   

Studies show that companies that have employee recognition programs far outperform companies that don’t.

For example, a recent survey by Badgeville found that 83% of employees said recognition for contributions is more fulfilling that any rewards and gifts, and 71% said that the most meaningful recognition they have received had no dollar value.  

What happens when people start thanking each other? Trust within your organization and team engagement goes up. And trust and engagement are two key drivers to operational success.

So if you’re in a position where margins are tights and you can’t afford to compensate employees much more than minimum wage, it’s important to remember the top reasons that people typically stay with a company when working on how to retain your employees. 

The top 3 reasons people stay at a job

  • They like the people they work with
  • They feel they have opportunity for growth
  • They feel recognized for their contribution

The science shows that recognition is beneficial for more than just these logical reasons. It actually has a physiological impact on performance. When you recognize someone’s efforts, their brain releases oxytocin. The same hormone that makes people feel loved and appreciated.

But not all recognition is created equal. Beyond highlighting why employee recognition is an important part of your retention strategy, in this post we’ve highlighted the elements of a good recognition program, and what steps you can take to transform company culture.

Building a Successful Employee Recognition Program

1. Make it Specific

Recognizing the specific results achieved or behaviours demonstrated is a more tangible way to link your employees’ actions to the goals and values of your company. For example if going above and beyond to look out for the best interests of your clients is something you’d like your employees to do more of, you could recognize an employee in a situation where they proactively reported a potential problem at a client site, allowing your management team to address the issue before it escalated into a customer complaint.  

2. Make it Inclusive

Studies show that recognition from colleagues can often hold as much weight as recognition from direct supervisors. Encourage everyone to participate in your recognition program and give praise to their colleagues.  

3. Make it Visible

Offering praise privately can be very meaningful but offering praise publicly magnifies the impact and offers colleagues the opportunity to join in. Even if you’ve already given an employee positive feedback privately, you might consider highlighting their efforts at your next staff meeting or by posting in your online group chat.  

4. Make it a story

Giving recognition is a great way to teach your team about the behaviours that lead to success. Stories are one of the easiest forms of communication to remember which makes them a great learning tool. Give your story a beginning, middle and end by defining the problem, explaining what the employee did about it and what was so good about their actions, and finally, what was the result.

5. Make it timely

Recognition has more impact if it is immediate. If an employee does something good, try to recognize it as soon as possible (waiting a day or two at most).

6. Make it easy

Provide dedicated space or time for this activity so that it becomes familiar and easily accessible for everyone on your team to participate. For example, if you have daily or weekly team meetings you can share recognition stories here. If your staff is typically more scattered, a virtual logbook or group chat message can also be a great space to share this type of praise.

7. Make it a habit

When you’re trying to foster cultural change like this within your organization, it’s important to practice giving feedback and recognition often so that it becomes a habit. The more recognition you give, the more familiar and comfortable employees will feel about it, and the more likely they are to participate. The other benefit of doing it often is that it doesn’t feel as formal and unidirectional so everyone can easily participate.

Keep in mind that it’s also important to form a habit of it because on the flip side, providing feedback too infrequently can lead employees to feel undervalued and also means that if you aren’t looking for them, you are more likely to miss out on appropriate opportunities for recognition.

Start Taking These Simple Steps Today.

It doesn't take much to change the way your employees feel about their work and about working for your company.  An employee recognition program is a great way to reduce the likelihood of turnover and boost productivity. None of these strategies however, are possible without good communication. Focus on communication that recognize the behavior you want to see and everyone will benefit.

Let's hear from you. What has your company done to make recognition part of your company culture? How has it helped? What have you learned?