Cleaning & Maintenance Management Online

Notifying Employees Of A Contract Expiration

September 19, 2010

Editor''s note:

A recent discussion on the CM/Cleaning & Maintenance Management Online™ Bulletin Board centered around when employees should be notified of a contract expiring and their subsequent dismissal from employment.

Posted by:
Tony Long

One of our accounts just informed us that they will discontinue our service in 30 days; when is the best time to inform my employees?

I don''t have other work for them, so I''ll have to let them go. I don''t want quality to suffer — so as not to burn any bridges — and I don''t want them to quit prematurely by telling them now.

I do, however, want them to have enough time to plan accordingly. What do you do in such a situation?

Lynn Krafft

If the account is being lost because of the employees'' neglect, they will be no loss to you.

Nevertheless, it is only fair to tell them what is going to happen and ask them to keep up the quality in anticipation of the account returning to you, as many do.

Why not start looking for a replacement job for them and ask them to assist?

They should not want to quit before they have to, and if they do, you don''t want them around anyway.

We always seem to have openings, so good employees can be moved to other locations when they become available.

At any rate, try to keep them so they don''t end up on unemployment.

Peter Weiss

We never tell our employees about a cancelling account until they complete their last cleaning.

It will be human nature not to perform up to standards and you run the risk of having upset employees in your building.

You still need to finish out your 30 days without major issues or face the possibility of not being paid because of poor service.

Ken Jordan

Be honest with your employees. If the account is being lost due to no fault of theirs, praise them for their hard work and dedication to the company.

Let them know that, due to the current economy and the loss of this account, they will be let go at the end of the contract unless another similar contract comes to the table.

You might be amazed at how they market the company for you.

Timothy Nash

Not knowing the situation of why you are losing the account — I''m not asking — and what the employees'' role played in this loss, the "Golden Rule" is to treat others as you would want to be treated.

Give them two weeks'' notice of the job ending; explain you have nothing else for them at this time.

Knowing most cleaners, they will find out who is picking up the contract and apply with them — if their cleaning was not the problem.

In a worst case scenario, you have to get two weeks of cleaning covered.

You seem to care enough about the contract and the employees, so you know the situation the best.

At the end of the day, you can''t go wrong by doing what is right.

Toni Lowery

I believe Timothy hit the nail on the proverbial head: The "Golden Rule" is always a safe bet and you will be able to feel good about the way you handled the situation.

To the person who never tells people until the contract is over, shame on you.

How do expect any loyalty from your employees if you give none to them in return? Just something to think about.

Peter Weiss

Okay, I''ll live with the shame.

First, the reason most accounts cancel is because they aren''t happy with the cleaning or the cleaning personnel.

Second, I pay the cleaning people their money long before I get paid from my customers.

I used to tell the cleaners immediately when a customer cancelled, but had a few occasions where I didn''t receive the full amount of money due because of poor cleaning in the final weeks or days of the contract.

When my cleaners invest in my business and take the same risks that I am taking, I will inform them of everything immediately.

Mack Simmons

The right thing to do is tell them as soon as possible. They have a right to know.

As owners, supervisors and managers, we establish what the expectations are and we coach and motivate staff to meet those expectations.

If they haven''t performed up to those standards, you have allowed it by accepting substandard work.

Set the bar high and train the team to achieve at that level.

Aim higher. Don''t lower the bar to the level at which they''re performing.

Toni Lowery

Well, Peter, I guess I can see why after being burned you would feel that way.

In my role, I am a little removed from the loss of capital since I work as a supervisor for a larger contract company.

I guess I relate more to the workers'' point of view than the owners''.

However, I would give my 100 percent best on a job, regardless of it coming to an end — and I know most of my employees would as well.

So, I do still think that letting folks know is the right thing to do; but, your point is well-taken.

Ed Samson

It depends upon the employee. For some, I would wait until the last day if I feel they might cause problems, as some people might resort to stealing or slacking off because they have nothing to lose.

And, some customers don''t tell us until the last day because they don''t want janitors having keys and access to their building after they''ve been terminated.

Peter Weiss

I am not trying to come across as someone who doesn''t care for his employees because that''s not how I see it.

If an account cancels because of reasons other than poor employee cleaning performance, I will find new work for my employees and they are always paid well and given respect.

It is purely a business decision not to notify about a cancellation until after the last cleaning.

Robert Jess

Peter and Ed, shame on you both — just kidding.

If I do not plan on keeping the employee due to no openings, I tell them at the end of the shift on their last day — actually, right after I have them load the vehicle with the equipment.

On their last day, I hand them their check, tell them sorry and if something comes up we''ll call them, pat them on the back, wish them the best of luck and send them packing.

They''re employees, not contractors.

If you were ever laid off, did your employer come to you and say, "By the way, 30 days from now we''re going to lay you off."

Of course not. They told you at the end of your shift on your last day.

The only time a company tells an employee ahead of time is if they''re closing their company doors for good.

Peter Weiss

Companies have been telling me when on a sales appointments that they don''t look forward to cancelling the current service because the cleaning will be terrible for the next 30 days.

This happens all of the time because, once the cleaning people are notified of cancellation, they then become mad and truly don''t care about any detailed cleaning — if any cleaning at all.

This is why I have been taken advantage of in getting my final check for the full amount because people do not want to pay for items that we completed poorly or not at all.

When the end is near, only I know it — and that''s the way it''s going to be.

Chaz Townsend

I think the answer to this question depends on the specifics of the situation.

I want to be fair with everybody. However, if the reason we are getting canceled is the employees'' fault, have they been fair to me in doing a poor job that led to this?

Someone said above that if this is the case, it''s management''s fault anyway because they allowed poor workmanship to continue.

Well, that''s completely true. But, I can''t completely excuse the properly trained employee in all instances.