A new employee just joined our team. Multiple team meetings were scheduled so we could get to know her. She was given a new computer and a smartphone, both preloaded with useful software and tools to help her do her job. She was also provided with a three-page onboarding plan, that included multiple training courses, to help her get up to speed quickly.
Why did we do all this?
We did it because we know that these things are important for engagement, and if she is engaged, she will want to stay with our company for a while.1 With the “great resignation” among us, our effort is more critically important than ever as turnover costs money and reduces efficiency. In this blog I will use our new team members experience to highlight three simple ways that cleaning managers can help increase employee engagement and reduce the cost of turnover in their organizations.
Get to know and use their superpowers
“What is your superpower?” is one of the most common questions asked of our new employees. Superpowers go beyond skills that have been or can be learned, like using Microsoft Excel spreadsheets, or knowing the steps to take to safely cleanup blood from a surface. Instead, they are the things that someone is inherently good at doing and that they can do with minimal effort.2 Some examples of superpowers are staying calm in stressful situations, being sensitive to what others are thinking and feeling, and collaborating well with others even when they have different views. The importance of recognizing superpowers is that they help employees feel seen and valued. This can help make them want to stay with an organization, but there is even more power in them than that. Superpowers can also help organizations operate more productively and efficiently. For example, if there is someone on the team who is good at and enjoys organizing events, they may be willing to be put in charge of team building activities. This is a win-win situation for a manager, who can then focus on other tasks. Invest time in learning as much as you can about your employees and watch engagement grow and turnover disappear.
Supply them with the best tools, equipment, and products
Everyone likes to use the best stuff. When it comes to tools, equipment, and products, there is a range in quality. To help front line cleaners do their jobs more efficiently, effectively, and safely, supply them the best you can afford (while setting the expectation that they need to be well cared for, so they last a long time). For example, here are a few options to consider:
- Microfiber cloths provide superior soil collection and removal over regular cotton cloths, and lead to noticeably cleaner environments.3
- Ready-to-use products cut out product preparation time and reduce the chance that a prepared product will be overdiluted (efficacy concerns), under diluted (toxicity concerns), or in a mislabeled secondary container (OSHA compliance concerns).
- Electrostatic sprayers provide a faster and more ergonomic solution to traditional manual trigger sprayers.4
- Specialty products that focus on specific needs can help get jobs done faster and with less effort.
- “Robots”, like automatic floor cleaners, can save considerable time, labor, and even reduce the risk of injury.
An operation that chooses the best products, tools, and equipment over one that does not will win an employee’s heart every time, which will lead to better engagement and less turnover.
Provide high-quality education & training
As in any field, front-line cleaners also need education and training to do their jobs efficiently, effectively, and safely. Education and training should include making sure that employees understand why their job is important, what policies and procedures they need to follow, and how to use tools, equipment, and products. Ongoing education and training also have the benefit of informally communicating that change is normal and should expected. There are many options for education and training for front-line cleaning staff and just like tools and equipment, they range in quality. To help you find or create the most efficient, effective, and valuable education and training programs, check out these blogs I wrote on Instructional Design, The ABC of Credentialing, and The Cs of Credibility. When education and training are provided, employees will better understand the value of the work they do, be better at doing their jobs, and be more open to change. These incredible outcomes are all common in engaged employees and will help them stay with your organization.5
We are in a challenging time right now with staffing shortages and increased customer demands for clean and safe indoor environments. Taking a lead from our organization, recognize your employees as individuals and use their superpowers to help the team, provide them with the best tools, equipment, and products so they can do their jobs efficiently, effectively, safely, and even enjoy using the latest and greatest technology. Finally, invest in their education and training so they understand why their jobs are important, become competent in their roles, and expect change. These are three simple ways to increase engagement and reduce turnover, so you get back to the most important task at hand: creating healthier and safer shared spaces for people to work, learn, live, and thrive.
- Sorenson S. How Employee Engagement Drives Growth. [Internet] Gallup Workplace. [cited 2022 June 13] Available from: https://www.gallup.com/workplace/236927/employee-engagement-drives-growth.aspx
- Henley D. Discover your superpower at work. Forbes [Internet]. 2021 [cited 2022 June 10]; Available from: https://www.forbes.com/sites/dedehenley/2021/03/07/discover-your-superpower-at-work/?sh=51acea2b7213
- Mollenkamp B. The right tool for the job. Cleanlink [Internet]. 2016 [cited 2022 June 10]; Available from: https://www.cleanlink.com/hs/article/Differences-Between-Microfiber-And-Cotton–20239
- Cadnum JL, Jencson AL, Livingston SH, Li D, Redmond SN, Pearlmutter B, et al. Evaluation of an Electrostatic Spray Disinfectant Technology for Rapid Decontamination of Portable Equipment and Large Open Areas in the Era of SARS-CoV-2. Am J Infect Control [Internet]. 2020 [cited 2022 June 10]; Available from: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ajic.2020.06.002
- Bersin J. New Research Shows “Heavy Learners” More Confident, Successful, and Happy at Work [Internet]. LinkedIn. 2018 [cited 2022 June 10]. Available from: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/want-happy-work-spend-time-learning-josh-bersin/