Employee Success, Growth, and Benefits are Part of Sustainability

Primarily, we think of sustainability as only impacting the natural environment. But the natural environment is just one of three pillars of sustainability: environmental, social responsibility, and economic. Together, the three pillars contribute to operating a business that is better for the environment, better for the people in the company and community, and better for long-term economic viability. In this third blog in my sustainability series, I will focus on the social responsibility pillar, in particular, how this translates to your employees and how these investments in your workers may also help your profit.

There are many reasons to invest in the workers you hire. The main reason is, as we evolve as a society and sustainability becomes an important requirement, customers expect that all workers are treated well, given opportunities to advance their careers and are protected from physical hazards at work. Another big reason to invest in your employees is that it will benefit your business. Studies show that worker satisfaction leads to customer satisfaction: happy employees work harder and are more eager to assist customers2. In the case of a cleaning business, a happy employee may attend to special requests from building occupants faster. Investing in your workers can over time reduce your costs, improve worker efficiency, and lead to growth of your business.

Employee Turnover Is a Costly But Preventable Problem in Cleaning Operations

Replacing employees in any organization is costly. Some estimates show that it costs 50 – 200% of the value of a worker’s annual wages to replace them1. Having fewer trained employees in your cleaning organization can limit your ability to take on desired contracts, hindering your business’ growth.

5 Ways to Promote Sustainability and Grow Your Business by Supporting Your Cleaning Workers

  1. Provide training. On-the-job training not only improves the efficiency and effectiveness of the work janitors do, but it can also encourage workers to stay in a job longer3. Additionally, training can help prevent workplace injuries by teaching proper practices. A good place to start is with online trainings where they can earn a certificate like CloroxPro HealthyClean.
  2. Provide appropriate PPE and encourage ergonomic practices. Workplace injuries lead to missed shifts and reduced efficiency. This can be prevented by providing appropriate personal protective equipment and encouraging ergonomic working. If your employees’ work requires repetitive motions, over-use injuries may occur, which are challenging to treat. Consider investing in tools that help your workers do their jobs well and limit repetitive motions, such as electrostatic devices. Additionally, consider providing time for stretch breaks and beginning a shift with a warm up.
  3. Offer career development with opportunities for advancement and pay increases. One main reason many people leave a job is for more money or advancement. If career furthering opportunities are offered to employees, with clear guidelines for when and why a raise or promotion can be expected, they will be encouraged to stay with your business longer as they work towards an advancement goal.
  4. Encourage feedback and recognize achievements. We evaluate our employees for their performance all the time, but it’s important to also ask them how you could better support them in their jobs and career. One way to do this is to meet with each of them individually every few weeks to hear about the hurdles they encounter in their work. At the same time, it gives you a window into the things they enjoy and what they do well. When you hear about their successes, recognize those achievements and provide encouragement. When providing constructive feedback, make sure it is something they can improve on and ensure they have the tools necessary to make the change.
  5. Foster a positive and supportive work environment. A positive work culture encourages employees to do and be their best. A happy employee may provide better service to building occupants, so encourage positive recognition, camaraderie, and appreciation in daily work. If you meet with your staff before they start their shift, create time and space to say thank you for their hard work and provide specific examples of great work being done.

Investing in your workforce is a great move to operating more sustainably, it’s also a good choice for growing your business.


1. Wigert, S. M. and B. (2023, May 30). This fixable problem costs U.S. businesses $1 trillion. Gallup.com. https://www.gallup.com/workplace/247391/fixable-problem-costs-businesses-trillion.aspx
2. The Economist Newspaper. (n.d.). Why firms should treat their employees well. The Economist. https://www.economist.com/graphic-detail/2019/08/28/why-firms-should-treat-their-employees-well
3. Nauman, S., Bhatti, S., Jalil, F., & Bint E Riaz, M. (2020, November 30). How training at Work Influences Employees’ job satisfaction: Roles of affective commitment and job performance. International Journal of Training Research. https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ1313071