I’ve mentioned this in the last few posts about hiring, but have you ever actually considered what would it mean to your business if you had committed career cleaners on staff? It would probably change everything about your business. It would improve your quality of life, your bottom line, your ability to grow. But if you’re like most people, you say that the problem is that you just can’t find good people who will stay long term. Nope, this is not true. And you can fix it!

Be a better job

Like I said previously, the secret is so simple that a lot of people will dismiss it as too easy. If you want better employees, you have to BE a better job. And there are two pieces of this formula that I want to cover. In today’s post, I cover secret #2 to hiring the best team. (The last post was secret #1: pay better.)

Secret #2: Meet their emotional and intellectual needs

The two basic needs of employees are intellectual and emotional needs. You engage the mind on the intellectual side and engage the heart on the emotional side. Employees need both needs met; one without the other creates a void and dissatisfaction within your staff. You can fix your team and have committed career cleaners when these two needs are cared for.

Intellectual needs

There are three types of Intellectual needs: achievement, autonomy, and mastery.


We all want to succeed at something. It doesn’t matter if you are the CEO of Apple or Microsoft or Target or Walmart or if you’re a cleaning technician cleaning houses. Everybody has a need to achieve something.

What can you do to eliminate their barriers to achievement? The first step is to have a proven training system in place. You’ve got to train the trainer. Stop winging it! People can’t achieve if they have to guess their way through to success during the first two months on the job. They will get frustrated and won’t feel like they can succeed without proper training.

You need to have a highly successful, automated, proven training system in place. Then for people to succeed, they have to have clearly defined goals: for training, for the job, for how they get their first raise, for how to get to the top level of pay that’s offered in your company. If they don’t have a clearly defined goal then they don’t see a clear path to achieve success. Your staff has to have SMART goals— Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-bound goals. The goals have to be clearly defined, like you will receive a $1 an hour raise for doing such-and-such within 90 days. Don’t make it so hard that they can’t realistically attain it.


We all want to control our life and work. There are two key strategies to fulfill your employees’ need for autonomy: involve employees in improving their own income, owning their work, and owning their day; and enable them to earn more if they step up and want to become a trainer or a quality assurance person or a sales estimator.


People have the desire to develop expert skills and knowledge. There are two key strategies to fulfill your employees need for mastery: adequate training and seizing teachable moments to coach them. Without good training, you’re not allowing employees to master their skills. If they don’t have proper training, they can’t master the job quickly and they get discouraged. Often, they’ll quit within a month.

To help them achieve mastery, you’ve got to seize teachable moments to coach your employees. This includes ongoing training— when your employees get a complaint, don’t wait until the complaints pile up before you confront them. If it’s a mild complaint, call them on the phone and say, “Hey, you missed the top of the refrigerator yesterday.” And if they mention that they’re short and forgot to look up there, mention carrying a step ladder or something. You’ve got to coach them so they can master the skill and feel really proud of the job they do.

Emotional needs

This is where you engage the heart. The second most basic need is emotional and a lot of us actually do pretty good with that. We’re very warm as business owners and many of us are very loving and kind. There are three components to meeting their emotional needs: purpose, intimacy, and appreciation.


Purpose: People need to know that they matter and that what they do matters. Many of us think it’s hard to find purpose in cleaning a toilet, but one way we meet this need is volunteering to give away free cleanings to cancer patients. We pay our staff and allow employees to experience what it’s like to clean for someone in need who didn’t have to pay for it because it was a gift from you. The employee is still getting paid but also gets the benefit of feeling like they matter. Find ways to help your employees feel like what they do really makes a difference.


Intimacy: People need relationships and connection. Intimacy is missing in companies that try to be completely hands-off. There has to be a balance; if you don’t have a lot of face-to-face time with your staff, you need some other way to build relationships and help your team feel connected. In my company, we have quarterly team meetings—I pay them to be there and we take a few hours each quarter to do training, inspiration, life skills, personal development, reward and recognition. You could do monthly meetings or 1:1 interactions to help you build relationships. Ask how their family is doing, recognize their birthdays and major life milestones.


Appreciation: People need praise, recognition, and monetary reward for what they do. They need to feel like you appreciate them. If people do not feel appreciated, it doesn’t matter how good the pay is because eventually they will leave. Go out of your way to recognize good work, praise them on what they are doing, and pay them well.


How to have a team of committed career cleaners:

  1. It’s not them, it’s me. Be a better job.
  2. Pay better to attract better quality staff.
  3. Meet intellectual and emotional needs of your employees.

You must create an irresistible job. My employees actually call my office if they have a light week, begging for more work. Most business owners are the ones begging their employees to take on extra work. We have a unique formula I teach in my CBF course that covers how to motivate with pay for performance. When we create irresistible jobs, we attract long-term employees who are committed career cleaners. Pay your employees better for you to be a better job than anything else that’s available to them. And finally, meet employees’ two basic needs: their intellectual and their emotional needs.

There’s nothing more rewarding than having a company filled with happy, committed, career cleaners. It makes your life better, makes the life of your customers better, makes the life of your other employees better. It gives you the opportunity to grow your business to the size of your potential instead of always being held back. The employee component is the biggest problem for this industry. Once you learn how to meet the intellectual and emotional needs of your team, and how to create an irresistible job that can afford to pay people for this hard work, the sky’s the limit.

Did you miss the earlier posts? Here’s how to have a team of committed career cleaners and the secret to hiring great employees.

Debbie Sardone
Debbie Sardone

Known as The Maid Coach, Debbie Sardone is America’s top cleaning business consultant. Debbie helps owners of residential cleaning companies build a 7-figure dream business, with a 6-figure income and the freedom in their lives that they deserve.