Each time a worker leaves, it can cost a contractor $1,000 in recruiting, orientation, and basic training costs to bring in a replacement

The contract cleaning industry has always had a turnover problem. In good economic times and bad, turnover in the industry runs anywhere from 75 percent to historical highs of 400 percent.

To understand what these percentages actually mean when it comes to dollars and cents, let’s suppose a contract cleaner has a staff of 100 employees and a turnover rate of 300 percent annually. That’s 300 new workers every year.

Each time a worker leaves, it costs this contractor $1,000 in recruiting, orientation, and basic training costs to bring in a replacement. To maintain a staff of 100 workers with a 300 percent turnover means she’ll be hiring 300 workers annually, costing a whopping $300,000.

“That’s a lot of money that could be used for new equipment, training programs, or added to business profits,” says Terry Sambrowski, executive director of the National Service Alliance (NSA), a leading group purchasing organization for larger building service contractors and related businesses in the United States.

Because turnover is so costly and so high in our industry, Sambrowski offers the following tips on bringing those numbers down:

  • Hire right. Many large contract-cleaning companies now place a higher value on selecting workers who have a positive attitude over experience or training; the better the attitude, typically the more willing the workers are to learn and stay on the job.
  • Provide exceptional training. Studies have shown that many new workers feel an obligation to companies that have spent time and resources on quality education programs; training can breed loyalty.
  • Offer competitive wages and benefits. Many of our contractor members hire union janitors, who typically receive higher wages and more benefits; although an upfront cost, higher wages and benefits often result in staying power for employers.
  • Let employees have a voice. While it is not always feasible, workers should be involved in as many business decisions as possible, especially if it affects their jobs. Encourage workers to share their likes, dislikes, and other input so they feel a part of the business family.
  • Ensure opportunities for advancement. Workers who believe they have opportunities to advance within the company are more likely to stay with the company. Always try to promote from within.
  • Provide recognition. A recent study found that 88 percent of employees reported “praise from managers [is] very or extremely motivating” and more important to them than money.*

“Taking steps to reduce turnover is just good business,” adds Sambrowski. “Not only is it a cost savings; happy, long-time staffers become ambassadors for the company and often refer family and friends to the company, which can also help reduce turnover and turnover costs.”

* Study conducted by Badgville, an employee motivation firm, released June 13, 2013.

The NSA Advisory is intended to provide general information on issues impacting the professional contract cleaning industry. It is not intended to provide legal or professional advice.

About the National Service Alliance (NSA)
The NSA is a buying group serving the professional contract cleaning industry. Starting with19 members, the NSA now has nearly 70 contract cleaner members-most of which are the leading names in the professional cleaning industry-as well as members in other service industries such as security and plumbing. Total membership is now nearly 300 members. Terry Sambrowski, is the NSA executive director.


Contact Info:

Terry Sambrowski
National Service Alliance, LLC
 Two Water Ridge Plaza
 2105 Water Ridge Parkway, Suite 595
 Charlotte, NC 28217