BSCs and management too often view their frontline workers as expendable pieces that will just need to be replaced. This practice is detrimental, as a worker who feels less significant is more likely to leave a job for a position with more influence. 

Instead of viewing the employee as some disposable part, managers and owners should view and treat these frontline workers like the business-driving resource they are. And if they do, managers will start to see that the janitors appreciate their job more.

“It’s not a ‘sexy’ job title, but if people feel that what they do matters, and they are part of something bigger than themselves, it can mitigate against the stigma,” says Pam Washington, founder and CEO of A1 Janitorial Services, Las Vegas, and founder and coach at Build My Cleaning Business.

Washington suggests managers go right to the cleaning staff and ask them straight up what the business succeeds in and where it needs to grow. By doing this, managers are not only using this input to improve upon the issues that are causing workers to leave, but they’re also empowering them. With their voice heard, the employees are respected and humanized.

“The No. 1 way to show respect for another human being is to listen to them,” says Miller.

Part of the reason that janitors are seen as inferior to higher-ranking workers is that many in the industry believe anybody can do the job. Miller says this belief is simply not true — it’s hard labor that some aren’t capable of handling. 

That’s why JANCOA has spent a lot of time and effort changing this perception.

“It’s something we worked through the hard way over the past 25 years, and a lot of the industry hasn’t,” says Miller of how the industry fails to humanize frontline workers. “We call them team members because they’re a team that takes care of our customers, not janitors.”

JANCOA has created a culture of caring and motivation for these team members. They’re encouraged to work hard, and are taught that this hard work can form a career path.

And this path is not a mirage, says Miller. She references the success story of one former employee who came to the United States from East Africa about 15 years ago. The first job this worker got was with JANCOA and he made sure to do the best he could. Today, that man helps refugees as the director of programs for a Catholic charity in Cincinnati. When workers  come to him looking for a job in their new home, he leads them to JANCOA.

The career path of someone who starts out at a janitor doesn’t always have to take the worker somewhere else. Millennial and Gen Z cleaners want to stay at a job where they know they have the opportunity for advancement if they perform well, says Hopkins. That’s why he suggests keeping employees in the loop for any jobs that have become, or might become, available. If a full-time job is opening up, let the part-time workers know. Regardless of the position, a BSC is then trying to fill it with an in-house employee.

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Providing Perks To Retain Employees