According to Segura, a positive work environment ranks higher than even a paycheck when it comes to turning new hires into old-timers. 

“If I’m a janitor and I see my supervisor coming, and the first thing on my mind is ‘now what?’ that’s not a good sign,” he says. “Too many times supervisors will open with a negative, and it’s not their job to find the negatives. A good supervisor will find the positives and commend and communicate.” 

Segura advises that management should also get to know their employees on a personal level — and the best time to do this is on the job.  

“If you’re promoting yourself as an employee-oriented company, get to know your employees,” he says. “You don’t have to remember the names of their children, but you should remember something about their family.” 

Managers at Clean All Services make it a point to listen to new hires and ask questions during training sessions. 

“We take notes about things we pick up on: hobbies, activities they enjoy, what matters to them,” says Madewell. “When the time comes, if they’ve done a great job, we give them a personalized thank you. For instance, if we know an employee enjoys the Cincinnati Reds baseball team, we’ll go out of our way to get them tickets to a game instead of giving them a gift card.”

Personalized rewards and acknowledgements can also be something as simple as a birthday card. Employees at Supreme Maintenance Organization receive a card on their birthday, and the company acknowledges work anniversaries on social media. According to Segura, these easy gestures can go a long way toward establishing employee loyalty.

“Recognizing employees for working a certain number of years at the company really reinforces to that janitor that their position is important in the eyes of the ownership,” he says. 

Traditional programs, such as employee of the month and employee of the year, also encourage employees to do their best and may entice them to reach milestone anniversaries. Madewell encourages BSCs to think outside the box when creating new incentive programs. 

“If an idea seems crazy, do it anyway, within reason,” he says. “No stone should be left unturned. Bring everyone to the table and listen to what your people in the field are saying so that you can use that information to try creative options.” 

By way of example, Madewell recounts the time one of the company’s customers handed out insulated Thermoses at its facility as part of an incentive program. The BSC’s custodians were upset that they didn’t get one because they felt they were also part of the team.  

“Our manager went out of their way to get them a Thermos, personalize it, and say thank you for all the great work,” he says. “That meant the world to them. So sometimes opportunities present themselves, and you have to take advantage of them when they happen.” 

Other novel ideas take more forethought and planning, such as Supreme Maintenance Organization’s introduction of DailyPay, a financial services company that allows employees to access earned income. The ability to put wages to use as needed is an added convenience, and Murphy says that this employee perk has resulted in fewer open positions. 

“It’s something I’ve recommended to other contractors,” he says. “It’s a great benefit, and it doesn’t cost the company anything. We also use the DailyPay logo on our Facebook ads, and we’ve gotten a lot of traction on those.” 

Another successful incentive the company offers is “SMO bucks". Team members can earn SMO bucks and redeem them for rewards, such as gift cards, a day off with pay or merchandise from the company store.  

The Gift of Referrals 

No doubt, one of the best ways to find new talent is to tap into existing personnel. Supreme Maintenance Organization is currently offering substantial referral bonuses to its employees; the longer the new hire stays, the bigger the bonus. The program seems to have legs and workers are sticking around. According to Murphy, payouts from the program have become a noticeable expense in the company’s financial statements.  

While referral bonuses can be an effective recruiting tool, Segura advocates a more informal approach. 

“If you have someone who is always bringing people in, you can show your appreciation by buying them a gift card to have dinner with their spouse,” he says. “It’s a good reward, and it means something to them.” 

BSCs who are fortunate enough to have custodians who love their job find that they willingly promote the company without the need for rewards. 

“If a janitor is happy and has loyalty to the company, he or she will publicize it,” notes Segura. “And if you have supervisors that treat people well, they will always have a following.”

Whether it’s getting the ball rolling over the first couple of weeks or making sure a quality employee doesn’t start seeking other pastures, successful recruiting and retention comes down to more-or-less one thing: a genuine sense of belonging from the employees themselves.  

Kassandra Kania is based out of Charlotte, North Carolina, and is a frequent contributor to Contracting Profits. 

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