How to Decide What to Pay Your Cleaning Employees

As your cleaning business grows, one of the first things you will have to do is hire employees. Of course, this means that you must decide on how much you are going to pay before you start interviewing and hiring new cleaning staff. As a business owner you may have times that you work more hours and make less per hour than your paid staff. However, you are investing your time and efforts not just into current cleaning accounts, but also into the growth of the company. You cannot expect your employees to act like an owner when it comes to payment for their services.

Pay packages have few rules and hourly wages go up and down depending on the geographic area you live in and the potential employee’s experience. Wages also depend on the current condition of the job market (are there more jobs than employees or vice versa). Typically, entry-level wages in the cleaning industry have been towards the low-end of the pay scale. A recent survey in CM/Cleaning & Maintenance Management Magazine showed that wages for cleaning workers range from $7.80 per hour to $9.51 per hour, with the overall average starting wage being $8.63 per hour. This can, of course, be higher or lower depending on specific circumstances and in what part of the country you run your cleaning business.

How do you figure out what a job is worth? First off, remember that you are investing in your employees today to have a more profitable cleaning business in the future. With any luck you will hire employees who are willing to learn and grow with your business. Before setting your pay scale consider the following:

1. If you already have employees, what are your current pay practices? You don’t want to be hiring new employees and paying them the same or more than your current employees who are already trained. Look at your payroll records for the past year or two and see how much of your overall expenses you are paying out in salaries.

2. Make sure you have job descriptions. Just a title such as “janitor” is not acceptable. You need an accurate job description that specifically lists the key responsibilities and duties of that position.

3. Find out what your competition is paying. This may require a little digging on your part. You can check with your local job service or workforce center to see if they have a salary survey for the area. If no survey is available, check out classified ads, the local chamber or other professional organizations in your area. An online resource for salary estimates is


4. Set the salary ranges for your various positions. You may have a Level 1 Maintenance position, Level 2 Maintenance position, Lead Person, and Supervisor. After you have an idea of the salaries that your competitors are paying, set a suitable salary range for each position.

5. Decide on any bonuses, perks or training expenses you will pay. With a small cleaning business you may not be able to provide health insurance, but consider other incentives that you can give to get and keep employees. You can provide bonuses or paid days off for reaching performance goals or not missing any days within a certain time frame. You could also give discounts on products, or pay for attending training seminars and workshops.

However you decide to set the wages, remember to think ahead. You don’t want your employee to hit the salary cap in six months or a year. You need to have enough steps in each pay scale to allow flexibility for an employee’s performance. A motivated employee who is doing a great job may advance two steps, while an employee who is just “getting by” may be pushed up just one step on the pay scale.

When you are ready to get that new employee on board, make sure they have a copy of the job description and pay policy in writing. This can be a short, 2-3 page document, or part of a comprehensive employee manual. Having everything in writing will help you to avoid confusion or disagreements later.

It’s not an easy task figuring out how much to pay your cleaning employees so you not only make a profit, but so you can recruit and hire dependable and qualified employees. The cleaning business typically has a higher turnover and you may find yourself needing to hire new employees regularly. Doing your homework beforehand and having a set of written job descriptions and salary ranges will make it easier when you offer a candidate a job with your cleaning business.

Copyright 2006 The Janitorial Store