Cleaning & Maintenance Management Online

Filling The Employment Void

May 4, 2012

Hiring practices for both in-house facilities operations and building service contractors (BSCs) is a critical business area for successful operation of a department.

Hiring practices is a broad topic, but a successful hiring program should have the following four elements:

  1. Recruiting
  2. Applications and interviewing
  3. Onboarding and initial training
  4. Ongoing training.
First Element: Recruiting

Recruiting needs to be an ongoing process for every facility type and business model.

All too often, management determines a "need" and then goes into "hiring mode," which is a mistake.

An ongoing recruitment strategy is essential for maintaining a topflight frontline workforce and for top grading an existing workforce when management deems necessary, rather than from a position of need.

Effective strategies for recruiting are many.

Some firms run ads continually either with paid job boards, in newspapers or on free job posting sites.

Other companies find effective recruitment methods through current employees and contacts and incentivize those programs to motivate those influencers to refer top quality candidates.

Incentives are usually based around an actual hire and subsequent onboarding and tenure goals.

For instance, management may pay an incentive bonus to an employee only after a candidate has been hired, trained, onboarded and has worked successfully with high evaluations for a period of 90 days.

Second Element: Applications And Interviewing

Receiving and reviewing applications can be a chore for hiring managers.

In the current economic environment, even entry-level open positions generate substantial response.

It is important to have sufficient resources — such as a dedicated human resources (HR) department — to sort those applicants with input from management.

Interviews can then be conducted with those applicants who have been chosen to move forward in the process.

One note: Successful companies look at more than just the résumé and have methods for sorting candidates based on attitudes.

The attitudes or outlook of the applicants is likely the single most important factor in successful hiring and retention of a frontline custodial workforce.

Do you want workers that take pride in their work?

If so, you need a method to identify that attitude, among others, during the application screening process.

The bottom line here is that successful operations hire for attitude and then teach and coach to the skills necessary for job performance.

When interviewing, make certain you''re following all applicable laws and best practices — both state and federal.

The interview is an opportune time to further explore attitudes you''re seeking from your frontline custodial workforce, not just ask questions about technical competence.

According to HR firm Scheig Associates, a three-part test will be a good indicator for desired behaviors and the willingness of the applicant to happily perform specific duties.

Mark Tinney, president of Scheig Associates, says, "Interviews fall prey to that autopilot nodding syndrome: ''Oh yes, I''ll do that. I love doing that. I love vomit, and I''ll clean it up until the cows come home.''"

Many interviewees express these types of responses, but will they perform well if hired?

Instead of a typical interview format, Scheig has developed testing to evaluate technical proficiencies, willingness to perform tasks, behavioral ratings based upon other top-performing custodial workers and multiple choice situational questions.

All of these help ascertain if the applicant has the desired attitudes to perform the job duties at a high level.

Third Element: Onboarding And Initial Training

Once the ideal future employee is identified and the offer is made/accepted, management must have in place a plan for orientation and training.

New employee orientation should be geared towards introducing the new hire to the policies and procedures of the firm, but also to the culture and mission.

It is important to know you''re required to clock in and clock out each day, but it is equally vital to stress the company-specific culture, mission and goals.

Orientation should also address any specific benefits and incentive programs.

Plant the seed early that top performance is rewarded and what those rewards entail.

At the minimum, initial training should consist of safety training — the use of personal protective equipment (PPE), U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration''s (OSHA) Bloodborne Pathogen (BBP) Standard and Hazard Communication Standard (HCS), etc. — and site-specific and duty-specific training.

All training may be conducted in a classroom setting or on the worksite as applicable to the specific training.

Employees should sign acknowledgement of training and supervisors and trainers should evaluate proficiency in key areas.

One strategy involves a pre-training evaluation, followed by another evaluation on the subject matter after training.

This method can be a good motivator for new employees, as they quickly see their proficiency in the subject matter increase, which is reflected in their scores and evaluations.

Initial training should not attempt to cover every possible topic or cross training on various positions.

Keep the training simple and streamlined for early success with your new hires.

Fourth Element: Ongoing Training

Once your new hire has completed the initial training and orientation, it is important to offer ongoing training.

Areas for ongoing training should be those critical to the success of both the employee and the employer.

Safety training, simple equipment preventative maintenance, equipment repair protocols, information routing, planning, checklists and reporting are all segments for possible ongoing training.

Basically, a successful custodial operation should constantly train on material important to their success and that of the employee.

Cross training for other positions can be introduced as your new employees become a bit more seasoned and show a high level of proficiency.

Management can set performance benchmarks for determining when to begin cross training for added responsibility and greater compensation.

Share those benchmarks with the employees to motivate them to the levels you desire they achieve.

Hiring practices by in-house custodial operations and BSCs that incorporate these principals will lead to better decisions in hiring, more effective interviewing, onboarding and training.

But, more importantly, best practices in hiring will help reduce turnover and improve the atmosphere and motivation levels among your frontline custodial staffs.

David Kelly, a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Associate, is the regional director for Jani-King of Baltimore. For more information, visit Kelly may be contacted at