On-site personnel have a huge impact on a customer’s perception of a company and the services performed, Hiring the right janitors is vital to the success of any building service contractor. Frequent crew turnover and unprofessional or unfriendly staff can lead to hearing the ubiquitous, “I can’t pinpoint it — it just doesn’t feel clean,” from customers, even when inspections reveal a spotless facility.

The recruiting process has evolved over the years; advertising in printed classified sections and waiting for applicants to come in is no longer an effective method. Today, CleanPower advertises infrequently with more efforts based on out-reach. Our recruiters actively attend job fairs and seek out candidates through various community agencies, colleges and churches. Making and maintaining relationships with contacts at those organizations helps push deserving candidates our way.

Online job postings are a mainstay of current recruiting efforts. Our positions are listed on multiple employment websites, as well as on our own. To reach job seekers in smaller communities we have found success posting job openings on Craigslist. While our current social media presence is limited, recruiting via LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter can be an effective means of recruiting, especially for management positions.

Job listings are only part of the recruiting battle, though. Realizing the best employees often come from word of mouth by way of satisfied workers, we place a high value on employee referrals. Our management team strives to retain hard working employees by treating them fairly and remembering that every employee should be considered a “volunteer” and treated like one. More than half of our applicants are referred by existing crew members. Referred employees seem to have a better understanding of what the job entails from the start, and tend to stay with the company longer. To encourage referrals, offer cash bonuses.

With any growing company, an increase in staff positions leads to more job postings and more applicants. To handle the application process more efficiently, we require all candidates to complete an application online. It can be done from any computer as well as from kiosks set up in the lobbies of our offices to accommodate people who walk in or do not have convenient computer access. This has streamlined the system and has allowed us to easily search for appropriate candidate criteria for specific job locations before interviewing and further screening.

As the workforce changes, it is important to realize that successful recruiting methods that worked in the past will not be as effective in the future. Continual reassessment of recruiting and hiring practices is needed to keep a pipeline full of qualified applicants, but employee retention helps ease this burden. Sustaining a quality workforce begins with successful recruiting methods and continues by treating employees well. 

Barbara Whitstone is the senior vice president of business operations for Milwaukee-based CleanPower, a Marsden Services Company. She has been with the company for more than 22 years, holding several positions in both operations and sales.

She is RBSM certified, a graduate of Ripon College and has been instrumental in CleanPower’s move to more sustainable cleaning processes. In December of 2010 she led the project to earn the Cleaning Institute Management Standard, Green Building (CIMS - GB) Certification for CleanPower, a designation which the company renewed last year.