CHAPTER 12-: This is the twelfth chapter of “The Complete Guide to Starting a Cleaning Business.” Once you have all the legal paperwork ready, your business plans set in stone and the best cleaning staff and equipment at your disposal, you may be tempted into thinking that your job of starting a cleaning service business from the ground up is complete.
The good news for you is that it is nearly 90% complete, but the bad news is that the 10% that is still left to be done is so important that it can either make or break your company. The final 10% of the task that will be explained and discussed here may not be of great concern to other entrepreneurs, especially those who are not involved in the service sector. However, as the owner of a cleaning service business, this 10% that deals with creating an employee handbook will be of monumental importance to you. Before you can even begin to conceive the idea of creating an employee handbook, you need to first be aware of what this handbook really is and what kind of an impact it leaves on your business.
What is an Employee Handbook?
An employee handbook in very simple terms is nothing more than your expectations from the workers as an employer. A key characteristic of any successful entrepreneur is being proactive. The very best owners are the ones who are always on their heels and have a watchful eye on whatever is going around in their business. If you want to be the kind of entrepreneur who gets the most out of his or her employees, then you nothing that you employees do can ever escape your attention. In addition to that, you need to keep reminding your employees about the standards that they are required and expected to meet at all times.
With that being said, it would be too great a toll on our mind and body to constantly keep barking instructions at your employees and re-informing them about each and every single rule that you have established at your enterprise. Therefore, it becomes necessary for you to officially lay down all the rules of your business in an employee handbook, which will serve as a manual guide for all the people under your payroll.
Why Your Cleaning Business Needs an Employee Handbook
Inexperienced entrepreneurs often do not feel the need to take some time off their busy schedule to brief the employees extensively and create a handbook that they can refer to whenever confusion arises. This negligence towards laying down the law and creating a handbook stems from two erroneous assumptions.
The first error is that, entrepreneurs believe that stringent rules and regulations are not necessary to increase the productivity of the business and the efficiency of the workers. In their perspective, the workers will perform to their full potential and will avoid mishaps and misconducts as long as they are reimbursed well. The reason why this is an error is because money does not always solve the problems within an enterprise. Your image in front of your employees cannot be that of a Santa Clause who readily hands out money to reward hard work.
As an employer, you need to establish a sense of authoritarianism. Being an authoritative figure to your employees will compel them to respond to you with obedience and respect. It will keep them focused on the work and instigate them to handle each and every single challenge thrown in their way with utmost professionalism. Needless to say, if you are able to instill a sense of compliance in the minds of your employees, then they will not have lingering thoughts about engaging in misconduct.
The second faulty assumption that is made by inexperienced entrepreneurs with regards to not creating a handbook is that there is no urgent need to come up with rules and regulations for the employees. A lot of the business owners feel that establishing rules are not a priority for the business, especially during the initial 6 months of operations. Greater importance is paid to areas such as marketing, recruitment and inventory purchase. Such an approach can put the business in tons of difficulty. Rules and regulations for the employees must be established from the word go. Entrepreneurs fail to realize the massive difference between formulating rules and implementing them. Implementation of employee rules takes a considerable amount of time, perhaps even years.
This is the reason why the rules need to be set from the very beginning of the business operations. It helps inculcate a culture of compliance and conformity among the employees. If your experienced workers have embraced the rules, then it will be much easier for them to pass on this culture of conformity to the newcomers. If you delay the implementation of rules, then you will never quite find the time to concentrate on making the employee handbook work. Your business will be flooded with assignments and contracts from every direction, and your employees themselves will find it difficult and in a sense annoying to adapt to new rules and regulations that have appeared out of the blue.
Therefore, before you can open the doors to your business and commence your recruitment program, you need to sit down with your trusted business partners or perhaps chief employees, and create a comprehensive and extensive employee policy that will cover various aspects of their professional career in your cleaning service company. As mentioned before, these rules and regulations will be a reflection of your requirements and expectations, but that does not change the fact that it is always preferable to look into the employee handbooks of other more established companies to gain an idea of how to go about this business of laying down the law. You should also be careful about setting rules just for the sake of it, or just because it is the societal norm to do so. Each and every single letter of your laws must have a definitive purpose. The laws should be catered to establish a healthy, productive and exemplary working environment that you and your employees can take great pride in.
Creating an Employee Handbook for a Cleaning Business
When creating the employee handbook, there are specific areas that you need to address in detail. With that being said, you should try not to over-complicate the rules and the regulations. Remember, the rules are in place to ensure that your workers are not guilty of misconduct and below par performance. Therefore, when selecting the words with which to write down the rules, be very blunt and to the point. Try not to elongate the rules more than necessary. Also, you are advised to not beat around the bush. When your employees read the handbook, they should acquire a crystal clear idea of exactly what is required and expected of them.
As far as leniency goes, there should be an element of strictness with the rules that have been imposed. With that being said, you are strongly encouraged to take into consideration the practices, needs and habits of people who generally work in the cleaning service companies. Make sure that the rules are not too overbearing for them. Try to keep a balance between and come up with rules that your workers will appreciate and will be willing to follow without any further assertion of authority.
- Conduct & Work Ethics
The first thing that you need to mention in the employee handbook is the ideal behaviour that you expect from your employees. This part of the handbook should explain the kind of conduct that your workers need to maintain in order to keep their jobs in your cleaning service company. Be very specific in terms of what you expect from them both within the premises of your workplace and also in the jobsites designated by your clients. Educate them on how to carry themselves in front of your valued customers and the kind of behaviour that they should engage in when interacting with the clients. You should also explain to them in clear and assertive words how to behave with their fellow workers and the attitude that they should adopt when working in pairs, groups or teams. The main objective behind establishing these rules concerning conduct should be to shape your employees into model workers who are easy to get along with and have a likeable and appreciable attitude.
- Workplace Safety
The second subject that the employee handbook should address is the one that revolves around general safety policies. The cleaning service business is not often seen as the kind of work where employees are vulnerable to injury. However, any field of profession where inflammable objects, electronic appliances and vehicular transport are involved, formulating a concrete safety policy becomes a necessity. Your employees need to be well aware of the safety procedures that need to be undertaken to avert avoidable accidents, disasters and consequent injuries. Since the cleaning business is based on service, the health of your staff should be your utmost priority. In order to prioritize this health, you need to teach your employees how to ensure safety and keep themselves in a healthy condition at all times during work. If you lack experience and knowledge in this subject, you can resort to the assistance of a safety expert in your industry when coming up with the safety guidelines in your employee handbook.
- Banned Substances
Some of the more inexperienced entrepreneurs often feel uncomfortable addressing the issue of drug and alcohol use (or abuse) by the employees. The initial screening of your recruitment program should filter out those employees who have a history of drug and alcohol abuse. With all due respect to people who suffer from such complications, you cannot afford to hire workers who have developed a certain form of addiction. Drug addiction and alcoholism can be a stumbling block to a person’s productivity at work. The last thing you need is to have employees who are absent on crucial days of the month simply because they are recovering from a hangover after a long night of drinks and drugs.
Whether you notice it or not, such indecent and irresponsible actions from your employees will cost your business dearly. Also, employees who carry drugs and alcohol to work can be a horrible influence to some of your other workers, especially the younger ones who are still in college. Furthermore, drinking alcohol or being on drugs during an all important assignment from a precious client can cause your employees to lose their focus and end up with a mediocre or poorly executed cleaning job. Therefore it is imperative that you specifically imposed restrictions on alcohol and drug use both during the work hours and after work hours. As for alcohol, you may want to be a little lenient with the rules as drinking is considered common practice in many societies.
A reasonable regulation would be to allow your employees to only drink alcohol when they are not assigned to work in a jobsite within the next 24 hours from the time the drink is consumed. This way you can ensure that every member of the cleaning staff shows up to work in good shape and full of exuberance.
You could also make it a requirement for your employees to be suspended indefinitely or relieved from their obligations if caught in possession of illegal drugs. If one of your employees lands himself in trouble with the law enforcement officials regarding drug abuse or possession, then the reputation of your cleaning company will suffer a major blow. Criminal charges such as these can badly hurt your business and even compel people to change their mind about signing a contract with your company.
- On-the-Job Dress Code
The employee handbook should also mention guidelines on employee dress code. Just because your run a cleaning service does not mean that your employees have the right to come into work wearing whatever they fancy. There should be a particular dress code that they need to abide by at all times when engaged in work. Some cleaning companies have specific uniforms for their janitors and maids. Uniforms are not mandatory, but they certainly do add a touch of professionalism to your employee outfits.
Also, uniforms with your company’s logo could be a clever way to market your service to people who notice your employees during work hours. In the case that you do not want to spend extra money on tailoring company uniforms, you can request your employees to kindly put on decent, casual clothing that makes it easier for workers to present themselves professionally in front of the clients and the general masses. Do not be too stringent with the dress code.
Give your employees the freedom to dress according to their preferences and needs. As long as they are not clad in obnoxious party outfits, they’ll be good to head off to the worksite.