004: A Remedy for Employee Turnover | Mary Miller, CEO, Jancoa Janitorial Services


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Cincinnati, OH — When Mary Miller joined her husband Tony’s janitorial services company 20 years ago, the firm’s employee turnover rate was 360 percent. By accepting the notion that no one wants to be a janitor forever, Miller says, she and her husband began to consider how their firm, JANCOA, could motivate its employees to think of work as more than just a paycheck. inspires employees to identify and ultimately pursue their personal dreams.

Listen to the COMPLETE EPISODE Below (0:23:33)

From Brett’s Strategy Notes: 

  • It’s all about honoring the employee.

  • Strong value of take care of the employee, take care of the customer.

  • Disrupter in the market – full time.

  • Value – only speak to the good, never complain about the bad.

  • Change in legislation changed everything.

 

Brett’s Book Reference

Work Rules!: Insights from Inside Google That Will Transform How You Live and Lead By Laslow Bock

Mary’s New Book

Changing Direction: 10 Choices that Impact Your Dreams, By Mary Miller, with Dustin Klein

 

Interview Excerpt

WPC: Take us back to when you first joined JANCOA. What was happening?

Miller: When I came into the picture, it freed my husband Tony up to look at the business differently from being just a job to being something we wanted to grow. The synergies of our different experiences, along with our parallel values, really allowed us to grow this business from 65 part-time employees 20 years ago to today, when we have 340 full-time employees and serve clients in the greater Cincinnati area as well as northern Kentucky and southwestern Indiana.

WPC: How were you able to begin looking at things differently?

Read Full Edited Abstract

WPC: Take us back to when you first joined JANCOA. What was happening?

Miller: When I came into the picture, it freed my husband Tony up to look at the business differently from being just a job to being something we wanted to grow. The synergies of our different experiences, along with our parallel values, really allowed us to grow this business from 65 part-time employees 20 years ago to today, when we have 340 full-time employees and serve clients in the greater Cincinnati area as well as northern Kentucky and southwestern Indiana.

WPC: How were you able to begin looking at things differently?

Miller: Well, we hired a consultant to help us figure out how to make the business successful. Three days into our contract, he wanted to fire us. At that point, we were in a good deal of pain. We just didn’t have enough people. Our work is largely done at night, so it had to be completed by [6:00] a.m. and we were 38 people short. We were really in pain. Basically, the consultant told us that he couldn’t help us to grow until we solved our people problem.

WPC: Where did you begin?

Miller: We went to full-time employees so that our people would be focused on their jobs with us rather than on another job. What we found is that part-time people come to work part of the time. This just doesn’t work when you want to give your customers what they need, so we went to full-time employees. And not only did we go to full-time employment, but also we began using background checks and pre-employment drug testing — so we began attracting better employees.

WPC: Plus, you rolled out this Dream Manager program, which some business leaders might question because you may well have been encouraging your people to leave …

Miller: That was a fear from day one, but we talked about it, and my experience had been that when you give people permission to leave, and you help to give them tools that allow them to connect with opportunities and improve their education, buy a home, or get a driver’s license — this really creates a sense of loyalty. Today, 57 percent of our current employees were referrals from other employees, and 17 percent of our employees are referrals from previous employees. So even the ones who have moved on are still referring friends and family to come to work for us. Most of the time, this is a business that many people don’t necessarily aspire to go into. Often they are people who are in a transition mode. They are typically undereducated and may not speak English.

WPC: When was the Dream Manager program first rolled out?

Miller: Well, we began to do things differently in early 2000, but we really got into full swing in 2002 and 2003, when we bought a separate building where we could have the Dream Manager classes. Confidentiality is really important, because we knew that our employees didn’t necessarily want Tony and I to know that they may be aspiring to be a nurse or something other than working for JANCOA. So we created an approach where they could work with the Dream Manager and have complete confidentiality.

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