How to retain janitorial employees

Read Time10 minutes

PublishedMarch 12, 2023

How to retain janitorial employees


Table of Contents

Employee churn is one of the worst setbacks to a commercial cleaning business’s growth. Having to constantly onboard, train, and recruit new talent can become a money pit for a company in an industry as competitive as janitorial.

→ Hiring and retaining top talent in the industry can be a significant advantage over your competition and in reaching your growth goals

Some business owners fall into the trap of believing hiring top talent is a game of chance and not something they directly control. It’s hard to tell what can attract and keep talent happy once hired. Higher pay isn’t the only factor attracting workers in the job market. 

10 ways to retain more employees at a commercial cleaning company

If you want to draw in and retain top talent in the commercial cleaning industry, you have to be prepared to:

  1. Enhance your recruiting process

  2. Optimize onboarding

  3. Provide quality benefits and perks 

  4. Offer competitive salaries

  5. Regularly provide training opportunities or continue education 

  6. Promote talent from within

  7. Recognize employees

  8. Prioritize a healthy work culture

  9. Encourage work-life balance

  10. Support talent with the right tools and resources

Let’s see what that looks like in practice.

Enhance your recruiting process  

Top janitorial companies have their recruiting processes nailed down. Finding and hiring janitorial employees on the job market is tricky. You need to know what red flags to look for in applications and what green flags stand out in top talent.

If you leave the hiring process to your finance team or leaders without recruitment training, you’ll struggle to find the best talent before competitors swoop in and take them off the market. 

Consider these strategies to ensure you have the resources needed to find top talent:


There are plenty of cleaning industry expos and networking events where you can meet with young talent and show them the value of working for your business.

You have to seize these opportunities by standing out with professional marketing materials.

  • A booth that stands out and displays your name.

  • Flyers and one-sheeters with the benefits of working for your business.

And, of course, a face of the company who is easy to talk to and can draw in interest. 

An HR team

HR specialists are trained to navigate the world of recruiting. Sifting through thousands of job applications via online job boards and emails is arduous.

An HR team can filter them by looking for keywords that signify the skills you need to hire for and get you a batch of only the most qualified and well-matched candidates.

An open positions page

Having a page on your website dedicated to new and open positions draws in employees directly interested in your business.

These hires have the greatest chance of long-term success since they have a specific interest that drew them to you. Not openly advertising your position can cost you these high-quality potential hires.

Referral programs

Referral programs are great because they use your existing workforce’s connections to your advantage.

You want to take advantage of the professional network of your great team members when seeking new talent. You can skip the costly recruiting and vetting process. Plus, new hires with an in-company co-worker connection will likely stay with a business for the long term.

Additional strategies

There are always other options varying from creative to costly.

  • Recruiting agencies are helpful for fast talent acquisition

  • Contracting teams quickly bring in proven talent but can be costly during onboarding

  • Look to your current workforce to train future talent from within

Optimize onboarding 

Your HR department isn’t just vital to finding new talent; they have a major impact on how you keep that talent. A trained team of specialists to design and maintain proper onboarding can pay off long-term with new hires.

You may not think it has a lasting impact on whether employees choose to stay or not, but onboarding is crucial for the following:

  • Setting the tone of employment

  • Getting new employees the necessary resources and info

  • Ensuring employees are set up to achieve success in their role

As a homegrown cleaning business leader, it can be easy to forget the importance of onboarding.

You’ve lived and breathed this business, its standards, and its secrets since it started. But new staff may not be accustomed to how you:

  1. Achieve success

  2. Stand out from the competition

  3. Live the values you preach

This is why a professional team is key in optimizing and implementing onboarding. 

Proper onboarding processes should include the following:

  • Employee resources and information 

  • Process information, including time tracking, sick leave, PTO requests, IT help, and more

  • Employee handbooks, guidelines, and company value information 

  • Training documents, goals and expectations, and a company directory 

The onboarding phase should include working with HR to get set up, working with team leaders to get trained, and being introduced to the other departments and teams within the company.

You want to ensure employees have all the answers they need to work confidently by the end of an onboarding process.

Focus on benefits and perks

When developing a strategy to win over new talent, you might think 0s on a paycheck are the only way to beat the competition.

Stability is one of the most significant values new hires look for in prospective companies.

Benefits and perks are a great way to measure how comfortable or stable employees feel when joining your company. Even if employees receive a better offer elsewhere, they will hesitate to leave:

  • Health insurance

  • A flexible schedule

  • Additional resources

Investing in great benefits shows staff how much you value their contributions and goes a long way to keep employees onboard with your company mission.

Some companies can find great insurance packages at low cost to employees' individual benefits only to find that adding dependents reduces their monthly check back to an entry-level role.

→ Put together a competitive benefit and compensation package that shows you understand the needs of your employees.

Providing better benefits than competitors makes it hard for employees to consider a new offer from another company. 

  • Think about family benefits. Maternity and paternity leave are huge for hires trying to start a family.

  • Sick leave and flexible schedules are essential for employees with young children.

  • Continued education packages can be helpful for young talent wanting to develop themselves further while working.

Consider the different roles you’re looking for and what sort of age or background top talent may have in those roles, and cater to them to boost your employee retention rate. 

Offer competitive salaries

While the paycheck isn’t always the determining factor for accepting an offer, it can be the determining factor for rejecting one.

→ When offering a competitive salary, you have to focus on the keyword: competitive.

That doesn’t mean you need to offer the highest pay. There’s no reason to overpay staff members if it hurts your bottom line in the long run and you have to make layoffs down the road. Competitive just means being fair and recognizing the value of potential hires.

To do this, you have to do market research.

  • What is the average rate for this role in your region?

  • How much does someone with a certain amount of experience make in this role?

  • What other skills are you looking for that can add value to this applicant's hire? 

  • How much can you afford to use this employee before it becomes too costly to revenue? 

You must navigate the job market and find that sweet spot of fair but strategic.

It also doesn’t have to be a flat offer. You can land good employees by getting creative with the following:

  • Incentives

  • Bonuses

  • On-site perks

  • Promised raise negotiations

Provide continued training opportunities

One of the best ways to acquire top talent is to develop it. Restricting employee training to only the skills required for their current roles or your current offers prevents expanding from within.

Instead of making acquisitions or partnerships with other trained specialists down the road, consider how much you’d save by developing specialists from your existing cleaning staff. 

→ Putting together continuing education and training programs for your employees will attract talent looking to grow and reveal the team members motivated to hit new goals.

Training doesn’t always have to revolve around janitorial services, either.

  1. Send future leaders to leadership programs to prepare them for new responsibilities and roles.

  2. Offer continuing education, so employees can return to school and achieve new certifications and degrees.

When you invest in your best employees by challenging them with more responsibility, they’ll be more likely to stick with the company long-term—or at least as long as they pursue these developmental opportunities. 

Promote talent from within

Finding talent for higher authority positions is where things become truly challenging. The competitive market becomes a lot busier if you’re scouring the internet trying to find experienced talent for lead roles and higher-up positions. This is why training can have such a significant impact on your growth. 

Promoting from within provides significant advantages for staying ahead of the pack:

  • Reduce the need for onboarding and let the promoted employee hit the ground running in their new role

  • Your offer doesn’t need to be as competitive since you’re not fighting for their attention 

  • The new leadership role will already have a standing within your company and a deep understanding of the company's vision 

Promoting from within your current cleaning employees will also enhance your company’s ability to scale. You won’t make hires too early for leadership positions, and the roles you do create will be homemade. This will enable your commercial cleaning company to grow as a unit, maximize resources, and build trust.

The last benefit of promoting from within—which should never go overlooked—is how it validates your team's hard work. Recognizing your employees’ achievements and talent shows you care about their success. 

This is how you tie employee success to company success. Employees who see their contemporaries promoted will discover new motivations for their own aspirations. Understanding that your business cares about fielding a path to success for employees and they won’t be stuck at one stage of growth on their career path makes a huge difference.

Prioritize a healthy work culture

Just as important, the final piece to employee retention is work culture. A solid work culture encompasses all the strategies discussed above, but it’s important to set a goal for your culture. 

Culture is something that needs to grow with your company. Initially, establishing culture may have been as simple as encouraging a family-like community of close-knit workers.

Building your ideal culture is harder to achieve as your organization grows into the hundreds with staff in the office and out tending to cleaning jobs.

→You have to be realistic about your goals when it comes to company culture and treat it as a measurable outcome rather than just an idealistic concept. 

The best way to continually measure and grow your culture is to check in with employees:

  • Consider quarterly reviews of employee wellness

  • Curate custom surveys around what employees enjoy or don’t enjoy about their work environment

  • Regularly tap leadership to check in with their office and cleaning teams

  • Take time to review how their teams are holding up

  • Use third-party sites to get unbiased reviews of your company culture and workplace

Once you have these wellness checks in flow, pay attention to the results. If employee satisfaction starts to drop, you need to take that as seriously as decreasing revenue.

By creating custom surveys and reviews, you’ll better understand the weak and strong points of your company’s culture and minimize employee turnover.

Encourage work-life balance

Employees are a massive investment, and thus you should want to take care of that investment. Commercial cleaning is a fast-paced business with busy seasons and bustling staff schedules. It’s not uncommon for cleaning staff to spend an entire week on the road, hopping from one job site to the other until they clock out.

Work-life balance means giving your employees the support they need to take time off and focus on life beyond work. If your staff loses sight of what they’re working for, how can you expect them to stay motivated and functioning to their peak potential? 

  • Optimize schedules and routing so you can support employees who need unexpected time off.

  • Notice when employees aren’t taking vacation days and incentivize them to take a break.

  • Offer bonuses during the holidays so employees can spend meaningful time with their families.

Never neglect to understand what’s important to your employees. Doing so can lead to an expensive and disruptive high turnover rate.

→ It may seem counter-intuitive, but providing employees with flexible time off reduces your turnover rate and saves money in the long run.

Work-life balance can manifest in a variety of ways in addition to scheduled time off, such as:

  • A company softball league if you have a large community of sports fans

  • Remote or hybrid options for office staff

  • Childcare programs for new parents

  • Allowing staff to bring their dogs with them to work—as long as there are no allergies

Showing employees you care about them is one of the most cost-effective retention strategies.

Retain your best janitorial employees with the best tools

Finding the right tools to support your teams is essential to employee retention. The solutions need to support scaling as much as they do your employees.

→ The best investment can increase communication and transparency while aligning your entire organization. 

Aspire’s cloud-based janitorial business software is a platform for growth and employee enablement. The customizable dashboard provides live updates, insights, and a holistic view of everything happening within your business. Aspire helps top companies retain top talent with a suite of tools to help employees optimize their routines:

Want to experience software designed to help commercial cleaners achieve growth at twice the industry rate? Schedule a commercial cleaning software demonstration with Aspire Software and see how to take your scheduling efficiencies to the next level.

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