Does Culture REALLY Matter?
As a Facility Manager, should you really care about your janitorial services company culture? While you may not want or even need the finer details regarding what your cleaning company is doing to create a productive, supportive, happy culture, it DOES matter that they have one. But what is culture anyhow? And how how does a company’s culture ultimately affect you the customer?
What Is Culture?
Culture is those values, beliefs and behaviors that contribute to the distinctive environment of an organization. It is based on shared attitudes, beliefs, expectations, customs and those written and unwritten rules that drive an organization. Culture is one of the most difficult things to actively create because it cannot be a “do as I say not as I do” thing. It cannot be faked or put on paper but not in practice. Culture is what you actually have not just what you want to have.
Isn't Work Just Work? Why Does Culture Matter?
Listen, work is still work, it isn’t a ballgame with a friend or toes in the sand on some tropical island. It is called WORK after all. But work can still be social, fun, rewarding, challenging, connecting and all of the things we as humans thrive on. And even though creating a positive culture requires a great deal of intention and effort, what it DOESN’T require is big dollars. Company culture is not an espresso bar, chair massages, office yoga and the like. It is about recruiting and retaining good people who are well suited for the work. It’s about training those people so that they have the tools to succeed at work and feel good about their contribution. It is having managers and a structure that supports and sees the contributions, small and large, of every single individual that makes up an organization and contributes to its goals and missions. It is a company committed to pulling through losses and celebrating wins in ways that promote learning, accountability, growth and excellence. It is offering your people competitive wages and benefits so they have the extrinsic and intrinsic motivation to get up every morning and do it all over again.
Does a Cleaning Company's Culture Affect the Customer?
So culture is important but how does it affect you the customer? The reality is that a dysfunctional company culture is going to bleed into your experience as a customer regardless of the talent and capabilities of any one employee and really, great employees leave bad companies all the time so in time, companies with culture problems end up with pretty significant people problems. So what are the major benefits of working with a commercial cleaning company or building services company with a really great company culture?
First, happy cultures create happy customers. Employees that are appreciated, valued and satisfied are far more likely to deliver very good service, very often. When employees are consistently treated like just another number, chances are this same culture will translate to how you are treated as a customer.
Second, inclusive cultures include EVERYONE, including you the customer. On the other hand, ultra competitive company cultures encourage the kind of “I’m number one!” mentality that puts the customer squarely at number two at best. Companies that encourage their teams to work together, support each other, gently uncover areas for each other to grow and even catch each other’s mistakes often end up creating yet another level of quality assurance that ultimately results in improved and elevated service for you the customer. While friendly competition can push people, in those companies whose culture is TOO focused on competition, rankings become so critical, the idea of who is above you and below you becomes the focus and all too often real teamwork is extinguished.
Third, reliability is created through accountability. There is an old adage that what gets measures gets done, and it’s true. The most effective janitorial companies create service reliability through creating a culture of accountability. A culture of accountability, especially when the focus is positive and growth centered, creates employees that know that the little things DO matter. These teams know instinctively that their efforts to go the extra mile don’t go unnoticed. They are being supported in a culture that rewards effort and achievement and give the employees the positive feedback that makes their extra efforts pay off both internally and externally. These companies have figured out that when employee successes are mapped, measures, praised and rewarded, they get more of them.
Finally, in the best janitorial services companies, employees are empowered to solve problems. When organizations create a culture where their people are encouraged to stretch and grow and are supported to take some risks and get creative, they are less fearful of trying something new. When they don’t have to constantly cover their backs and explain and defend every decision and even misstep, they are far more likely to own up to their mistakes, take ownership of their errors and focus on solving the problem over placing and shifting blame. This focus on “what do we do?” instead of “who did it?” benefits you the customer because the problems are identified and solved faster.
How Important Is Culture & What Else Should I Look for?
Of course, a number of things really matter when you are choosing your next commercial cleaning service. Are they CIMS certified? Does a prospective janitorial services company follow industry best practices? Is your office cleaning company committed to recruiting, screening, training and managing the very best people for the job? Is your medical cleaning company aware of the specific regulatory issues in your industry? But the company culture of a prospective commercial office cleaning company DOES play a role in predicting exceptional customer service.
You want office cleaners that have been given the tools they need to do their very best in your facility. You want cleaners who care about their work because their company cares about them. You want teams that work hard to shine because they know they are seen, rewarded and promoted for it. Company culture is not just about the warm fuzzies, though those are nice too. An inclusive culture that values individuals and their contributions to an organization ultimately makes people happy, engaged in their work and positively impacts quality of service and the bottom line.