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Janitorial Employee Turnover

What’s your Janitorial employee turnover rate? Simply put, an employee turnover rate is a measurement of how many employees leave a company (for whatever reason) in a given time period versus how many new ones are hired. For example, if a company has 30 employees and 15 quit (and are replaced) in a year you have a 50% janitorial employee turnover rate.

Turnover rates are usually measured annually and vary widely by industry. For perspective, below are a few industry average turnover rates (as of 2017):

  • Public Utilities (water, gas, electric): About 8% per year.
  • Banking and Finance: About 19% per year.
  • Hospitality: About 38 % per year.
  • Fast Food Restaurants: About 150% per year.
  • Janitorial Industry: About 175% per year!

    CleanlyRun blog post image - Janitorial Employee Turnover

As a rule of thumb, career positions (potentially long-term/lifetime jobs) have a low-ish turnover. Jobs where people tend to work temporarily until “something better” comes along, naturally have a much higher turnover rate. Our Janitorial industry turnover falls in the latter category where it even edges out the Fast Food industry.

So what’s a janitorial business owner to do?

There are innumerable internet articles with “experts” touting how you can reduce turnover rates in every industry imaginable. More training, more pay, more incentives”, more benefits, more communication, more time off, more recognition, more empathy… The list goes on and on. Don’t misunderstand, these things are not only important and good for reducing turnover, they’re morally – (yes morally) – the right things to do for your employees to the best of your abilities and company’s resources. After all, employees are your greatest asset.

But as a 30-year janitorial industry veteran, I’ve I learned that the most successful method for dealing with our industry’s historically high turnover rate is not to focus on it… Instead, I concentrate on providing consistent quality service to my customers. And it turns out that by being laser-focused on this goal, a host of other issues – including employee turnover – get handled in the process.

Here’s how I make sure that my customer’s facility needs are met in this high turnover industry:

  1. I take care of my employees: It’s true what is said by Zig Ziglar, “people don’t care how much you know, but rather how much you care about them”. Treat them right, pay them right and cherish them as a very valuable asset! People stay with you longer if they feel appreciated.
  2. I never stop looking for new employees, even for accounts that are fully staffed: I have office staff that works full time to place job ads, set up interviews, meet with our supervisors daily for openings, coordinate building budgets, perform employee evaluations and listen to employee feedback and concerns. Even for accounts that are fully staffed, I continue to recruit and interview potential employees for the inevitable turnover. You simply cannot afford to be understaffed and let your customer satisfaction suffer.
  3. I get rid of the bad apples: I never like to let people go, but sometimes it has to be done. Bad attitudes, poor work ethics, being out of uniform, running constantly late, habitual last-minute call-outs, conflicts, etc., are all a cancer that left untreated, infects the morale of other hardworking staff and causes them to leave. Get rid of the bad and the good will stay longer. People like and respect discipline and order in the workplace!

Trust me on this one… The most important way to deal with janitorial employee turnover is by making sure that you are continually recruiting new staff to step in. In this labor intensive industry, continuous hiring is vital.


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