The holidays are upon us.

Whether that statement triggers threatening Jaws-like sound effects or a rousing chorus of “Deck the Halls” in your brain, there’s no avoiding it.


Like most busy entrepreneurs, the thought of doing something special for your team has probably crossed your mind.

But so has payroll, and updating your website, and budgeting for 2018, and…the list goes on.

And you might be wondering — will your cleaners really notice if you don’t bother with cards or gifts or a holiday party this year?

After all, they don’t see you all that often, and they barely know their fellow cleaners… right?

Not so fast.

Taking the time to recognize the members of your team who serve your customers on a daily basis is not only good for morale — it has a direct (and positive) impact on cleaner performance, customer satisfaction, and retention of both cleaners AND customers.

But not all gifts are created equal.

In fact, the best way to show your cleaners you appreciate them isn’t necessarily in the form of cash rewards or material gifts.

To help you understand what forms of rewards and recognition are most effective, we did the research for you.

What Studies Show

A 2013 study conducted by gamification company Badgeville reveals some surprising statistics around the type of rewards and recognition employees prefer to receive.

Interestingly only 14% of employees said that a gift over $1000 was the best form of recognition or reward.

If you’re still not convinced that praise can compete with monetary gifts, keep in mind that developing an employee recognition program around regularly receiving gift cards or cash bonuses often leads to these rewards having less impact over time.

For instance, a cleaner might be thrilled to receive a gift card the first time you give them one, but if you begin doing it on a monthly basis it will quickly become something they expect.

The key to keeping it effective while still making it scalable and habitual is to focus primarily on delivering recognition in the form of written or verbal thanks and praise.

What Successful Janitorial Business Owners Say

Don’t just take it from us.

 Gerren Sprauve, Clean Slate Janitorial
Gerren Sprauve, Clean Slate Janitorial

We’re always looking for examples of janitorial companies who are great at employee appreciation, and Swept customers Gerren Sprauve and Jamara Wilson from Clean Slate Janitorial in Orlando Florida are a prime example.

According to Gerren and Jamara, the key to showing cleaners you care about them is twofold:

1. Recognize that cleaners are there for their own reasons (not yours)

From the moment the owners of Clean Slate meet a potential new cleaner, they begin to set expectations around the kind of relationship they want to have with them.

Central to this is making sure the candidate understands that the management team cares about them as individuals and wants to see them succeed.

They ask questions about the cleaner’s “why”.

Why are they applying for this job? What is their end goal?

It could be because they are:

  • A single mom working two jobs to pay the bills
  • A college student paying their way through school
  • An established professional saving up to buy a house

Or any other number of reasons.

The lesson here is that no matter what brought them to work for your company, it wasn’t because they felt like cleaning for you. (Shocking, I know.)

It was their own reasons that brought them to your company.

2. Use that knowledge to keep them focused on their “why”

According to the folks at Clean Slate, keeping employees focused on their own goals — their reason for showing up to work each day — can work wonders for a cleaner’s job satisfaction.

Not only does it build trust, but knowing why they are there in the first place also allows you to use that information to hold them accountable when issues arise around attendance or performance.

“We want them to know that we care, that we’re in their corner. By doing that, and keeping them focused on their why, it makes it much easier to have tough conversations down the road,” says Gerren.

And while they are careful to set these expectations from day one, they stress that the key is to be consistent.

“No matter what kind of relationship it is — whether its romantic, professional, a friendship — it needs to be constantly nurtured,” says Jamara.

So what does this look like at Clean Slate? Gerren and Jamara explain that they are always looking for opportunities to create touch points with their team outside of work.

Sometimes that means intentionally planning team activities like bowling or mini-golf. They’ve committed to do outings like this once a quarter.

In between, it means identifying and recognizing an employee of the month.

But they don’t stop there.

They look for ways to help their employees win personally. For instance, they’ve connected cleaners with people in their network who can help them overcome a financial or legal challenges, and regularly coach them to “use their brains over their brawn” to solve problems in their lives.

And yes, they are hosting a holiday party for their team as well 🙂


The Bottom Line

While we don’t feel gifts / gift cards are an effective year-round recognition strategy, they are a great bonus this time of the year.

For the other 11 months, we encourage you to find other more sustainable ways to show your appreciation. For instance, through written or verbal praise, recognition, and asking the questions that show you care.

If you’re not currently doing much in the way of employee appreciation, the holidays are a great time to start.

To help you get started we’re compiling a list of Cleaner Appreciation Ideas for the Holidays.

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Happy Holidays!

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