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Red Flags to Watch for When Hiring Cleaning Staff

When hiring cleaning staff, keep an eye out for these red flags to reduce your turnover rates. Learn what signs suggest that your new hire won’t stick around.
Kwantek Team

If you’re in charge of hiring cleaning staff in the commercial cleaning industry, you may feel like high turnover rates come with the territory, but that doesn’t necessarily have to be the case. In fact, you can lower your turnover rates—and all of the related recruiting, onboarding, and training costs—by hiring the right people.

But to find the right people, you need to look for more than just warm bodies. Why? When you hire people based solely on the fact that they’re willing to work, you’ll inevitably hire a lot of people who aren’t a good fit. Instead, you need to adjust what you look for by learning what red flags signify that someone you’re considering won’t stick around.

Red Flag #1: A Long Commute

The amount of time it takes an employee to get from home to work is important. In fact, research from Glassdoor shows that commute time is one of the top five things job seekers look for in job ads, and research from Robert Half found that nearly one in five people have left their jobs because of a bad commute.

It’s easy for potential hires to imagine that a long commute won’t be a problem when they’re looking for work. But it’s much more difficult to overlook the frustration of a long commute once they’re having to do it every day.

Before hiring a new cleaner, consider how far the candidate lives from the location where they’ll be working. You can even check Google Maps to find average commute times during the hours when they’ll be traveling. Or, with Kwantek’s applicant tracking software, you can filter prospects based on proximity to the job location.

If the estimated commute is longer than 30 minutes, it could be a sign that the candidate won’t stick around for long.

Red Flag #2: Clashes in Work Environment and Personality

Some people are extroverts who are energized by being around people. Others are introverts who are energized by being alone.

If you hire extroverts for cleaning roles where they’re expected to work alone most of the time, they won’t be happy. And if you hire introverts for roles where they’re expected to work as part of a team all of the time, they’ll find the work exhausting.

Of course, it can be hard to tell in an interview whether someone is introverted or extroverted (this is where the Working Style Assessment comes into play). And if you ask “do you prefer working alone or as part of the team,” you’ll get whatever answer the candidate thinks you want to hear.

Instead, consider asking the candidate to tell you about the best job they’ve ever had. While they’re telling you about the job, listen for signs that suggest whether the work at that job was performed mostly alone or mostly with a team.

Red Flag #3: Salary Incompatibility

In your application, it’s worth asking candidates to include salary information for their last few positions. Why? It helps you determine whether or not your hourly rate will meet their needs and expectations. Note: in most states, this is a legal practice, but not all. If you're unable to do this in your state, you can still ask in the interview about the candidate's salary expectations to get to this answer. 

If candidates are taking significant pay cuts to work for you, it may be a red flag that they only plan to stay with you temporarily until they find a job that pays more. And given that the Bureau of Labor Statistics anticipates higher than average growth in demand for janitors and cleaning staff over the next decade, there’s a good chance that they’ll eventually get a better offer.

Red Flag #4: Lack of Commercial Cleaning Experience

Another mistake that occurs when you’re willing to hire anyone who’s willing to work: you end up hiring people who don’t have experience in the industry. Inexperienced cleaners not only increase your training costs; they also reduce productivity among your experienced staff.

Remember: working a cleaner is surprisingly difficult. It has high physical demands: cleaners are on their feet all day, bending, stretching, and lifting. Many newcomers believe that commercial cleaning will be the same as cleaning their homes, but the reality is that it’s much more difficult.

If you hire people without experience, you run the risk of spending a significant amount of time and money training people who are just trying the job on for size—and who might eventually decide that the career isn’t a good fit. Experienced cleaners know what they’re getting into.

That’s not to say that you should never take a chance on someone with the right attitude who doesn’t have the desired experience. Still, experience in the industry is certainly something you should consider, and at the very least, it’s definitely worth laying out the difficulties of the work with inexperienced candidates before making an offer.

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Turnover is an inevitable a cost of doing business in the commercial cleaning industry, but it can be reduced if you take the time to hire smarter. Watch for common red flags and look for the right person—not just any person—to lower your turnover rates and start enjoying higher profits.

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