A discussion with 3 industry leaders
By Vickie Holland
We recently had a round robin discussion with three Jan-San industry leaders. We asked them to weigh in on hiring, training and rewarding employees. We also asked how COVID-19 is changing these processes. Not surprisingly, there was some interesting overlap on the responses. The comments below have been lightly edited for clarity.
What changes are needed in your hiring process during COVID-19
Joseph Patrick Gaither (JPG): Prior to the outbreak we had been moving to a paperless process and other than the in-person interview had successfully transitioned the process to be online. Moving forward we will conduct all interviews online. Although we feel that you lose some of the personal touch with this approach it is necessary to ensure the safety of our staff.
Melissa Usher (MU): Arthur Jackson had to make a quick transition in becoming more remote and electronically accessible to our new incoming talent. Pre-COVID, our corporate recruiter would partner with management to hold in-person interviews either at the corporate office or in our client buildings. We would facilitate at least 2 large in-person new hire orientations at the corporate office. We no longer hold new hire orientation in-person. We had to move our interview process to over the phone or Zoom calls. New hire orientation paperwork has moved to DocuSign.
Judy David (JD) We are currently in a hiring freeze. If we do get permission to hire, we will do screenings online, but in-person interviews will be with just a couple of people, as opposed to the panel style we typically use. We’ll have to social distance and wear masks throughout. We’ll also try to make it as paperless as possible. Right now, my focus is more on delivering the necessary disinfection with our current staff.
What are the 3 traits you look for when hiring new custodians?
JD: Some important traits to look for include strong work ethic, dependability, positive attitude and willingness to learn.
JPG: The three traits I value most are #1-Dependability: sustained employment, the ability to maintain professional employment, #2 Work ethic: understanding why we are all here- this is usually a topic of discussion during the work history conversation and #3- Genuine: someone that is honest or sincere. Nobody in our profession is perfect. I look for a staff member that can recognize an issue and engage in problem solving or solutions. But that won’t happen unless we can recognize issues and have that dialogue. I prefer a candidate that is genuine and not constantly trying to sell themselves.
MU: The traits we look for in any new custodian would be attitude/personality, work ethic and work history.
How do you keep your employees motivated?
MU: Motivation starts with the manager or supervisor at the work site. They get to know each of their employees and what makes them tick. They empower their employees by allowing them to have responsibility and flexibility over their day to day tasks. Our managers reward a job well done with pizza parties (as one example).
JD: I have been known to sometimes dress in costume to motivate our team. I try to make it fun, no pride! Food is also a great motivator! Team breakfasts are great. I had a past program where I hid a note in an area to be cleaned. First custodian to find the note won “Lunch with Judy”. I loved this reward because I was able to sit down and have a quiet one on one chat with an employee and really get to know them. Handwritten thank you notes go a long way. We also like to reward and recognize employees with a leadership position.
JPG: Positive reinforcement! If you don’t recognize the behavior you want, you will get the behavior you recognize. We also do a lot of little things throughout the course of the year to celebrate milestones or recognize a job well done with lunches or water ice in the summer. Honestly the best practice is to be approachable and accessible to the staff, every day. When you walk the buildings always recognize your team members, compliment their work, thank them for showing up every day and doing a good job. Take 2 minutes out of your day to talk with them and see how they are doing, that small recognition and appreciation really goes a long way.
Any suggestions for Employee Safety during COVID-19?
MU: Be mindful of your PPE (do not wear your mask below your nose or on your chin), keep up on your hand washing hygiene, keep your distance, if sick, stay home. We are so focused on COVID that many employees are forgetting their other safety training. I highly recommend sending out safety tips and self-care reminders to your managers and front-line employees.
JPG: We have been preaching universal precautions since the beginning of the outbreak. A great deal of the information related to the pandemic has been fluid, so early on we tried to prepare with an overabundance of caution. The advice I give to our staff is to treat their PPE as an essential tool necessary to perform their job, like a broom or a microfiber rag. PPE has always been essential to our organization, but in the last six months there is a greater focus and expectation from our employees and customers that we have been engaged in almost daily.
JD: Wear your masks, don’t touch your face and wash your hands. Wash them every time you take your gloves off. Wash them before you take a break. Wash them at the end of your shift. Wash them because you pass a sink. Universal precautions are as important now as ever. If we don’t stay healthy, how can we keep everyone else healthy? Also, did I mention you should wash your hands?
Imperial Dade offers free training programs to customers. Contact your Imperial Dade Sales Consultant or visit http://www.imperialdade.com for a location near you.