My first taxable job was at the age of 15. I worked in a daycare center and brought home $7/hour — a higher salary than most of my friends at the time, but not one that would fly today. Today, employers must be far more competitive.  

For example, my 15-year-old nephew got his first real job at a trampoline park for $12/hour, but he quickly left. His 17-year-old brother who makes $15/hour at a local grocery store recruited him for the higher salary, a promise to split the $50 referral bonus and carpooling advantages.  

It’s a competitive market out there and employers need to be on their toes if they want to attract top talent. This was an ongoing topic of conversation at the recent BSCAI Contracting Success Conference in Chicago where building service contractors discussed labor, recruiting, retention and the costs associated with all the above.  

Despite the Bureau of Labor Statistics reporting that the total cost of compensation and benefits have increased 5 and 4.9 percent, respectively, year over year, BSCs are experiencing labor increases closer to 10-15 percent. On top of that, many who were offering $25 referral bonuses two years ago have had to increase those to $150, just to catch the eye of prospective employees.  

When it comes to retention, BSCs are throwing dollars at that, too. Budgets are increasing for training initiatives and programs that will provide faster payments to staff, but BSCs who adopt outside-the-box retention strategies are seeing the best results.  

For example, many BSCs are finding it difficult to staff weekend shifts, so they’re working with clients to set up Monday through Friday cleaning schedules in an effort to keep staff happy and reporting for duty. Others are instituting what they call “stay interviews” to learn about what frontline workers like/don’t like about the job. Meetings are held quarterly in person and with human resources or upper management, so staff can openly discuss concerns about their supervisors. 

Navigating these additional costs to doing business will remain a challenge for BSCs. Those who haven’t already will be forced to pass expenses down to clients. Fortunately, because inflation impacts everyone, customers should be expecting the increase. As is the case with most things, constant and open communication will make all the difference as BSCs continue to thrive in this competitive environment.