Extend a Helping Hand to Your Crew and Everybody Wins

Having a stake in each employee’s personal enrichment will set them and your business up for long-term success.

Jim Kneiszel
Jim Kneiszel

As the busy season approaches, restroom contractors will be wrapped up in employees meeting work-related objectives. Can you finish your route every day? Will you show up for work on time and in uniform? Will you make it through the week or month without a complaint? Moving forward, you will want all important tasks to go off without a hitch and to keep the customers happy.

But while your customer focus is laser sharp, are you thinking of ways to keep your team members happy? As they bust their butts for the company’s bottom line, how can you show a continuing commitment to the front-line workers? After all, if it weren’t for motivated drivers, yard workers and office staff, it would be impossible to meet the needs of your valued customers.

So as you move forward, think about the personal growth and enrichment of your employees and how you can help them meet their goals this year. The following are a few challenges being faced by many workers today and some ideas for how you can help the crew overcome those challenges.

Pursue education

I’m sure you pair new technicians with an experienced crew member for a few weeks while they learn the ropes of portable sanitation. But the organized education of workers shouldn’t end with that break-in period. It should only be the beginning. The way to create and retain great workers is by encouraging — no, expecting — continual professional growth in your business. In its toolkit for developing employees, the Society of Human Resources Management offers many suggestions for employers.

First, know that employees are often interested in growing in a business or a profession, so they will be motivated to learn more about portable sanitation. So set expectations for their personal growth and help them achieve those goals. Offer training opportunities regularly, pay for their professional certifications, and give them ample time to attend training sessions. Match each employee with a mentor based on skills and development needs. Cross-train workers as much as possible for their own education and to better serve your company’s needs. If employees express a desire to seek a college degree in business or another area that can help your company, consider how you can help them reach that goal.

Quit smoking

A recent report from WalletHub revealed that, despite ample evidence of the health risks, more than 34 million American are still smoking. The startling statistics presented include that the average lifetime cost of the habit is $1.6 million per smoker. Each smoker faces an average of $253,000 loss in income over a lifetime and $170,000 in lifetime smoking-related health care costs. And that’s not to mention the cost of the cigarettes.

Smokers on your staff may welcome your help kicking the nicotine addiction. Ask them, and then contact medical professionals for options in smoking cessation programs. Offer to pay for health care services for the good health of your workers. Side benefits include that nonsmokers on your staff will be happier and health-related work absences should decline.

Spend more time with family

For most restroom companies, the next six months will frequently require all hands on deck and long weekend hours for service technicians. When everyone is so busy, we tend to forget about the family members who carry the load at home and the important lost family time folks in many careers enjoy during the summer months.

Though it may be difficult, find ways to set aside time for your crew members to get away and connect with their families. Maybe you can stagger the workweek for technicians and schedule them for fewer, longer shifts so they’re not on that six- or seven-day workweek treadmill. Whenever you can, allow workers to flex their schedules to attend their kids’ summer sporting events, make medical appointments and share the workload at home with their spouses. 

Save for retirement

There is great concern that workers aren’t saving enough for retirement. The statistics are startling. According to the Economic Policy Institute, the average working-age family (ages 32 to 61) has $95,776 saved for their golden years. And younger people, many of your technicians, have very little money tucked away. The Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies says Americans in their 20s have a median retirement savings of $16,000 and in their 30s, $45,000. By retirement age, it’s recommended workers have eight to 10 times their annual salary set aside. Too often that isn’t happening, leaving workers unprepared to support themselves.

Small-business owners can make a difference in their employees’ retirement planning, and it’s never too soon to start them off with a savings strategy. Invite a retirement-planning expert to speak with your staff. Have them learn about tax-advantaged savings plans like a traditional or Roth individual retirement account. Consider setting up a 401(k) retirement account for employees and make matching contributions. Pay a wage that encourages saving for an emergency fund, homeownership and debt reduction. With the tools to become savers, your crew won’t be living paycheck to paycheck and will be better prepared for eventual retirement.

Lose weight

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 40% of all adults are considered obese and at greater risk for heart disease, stroke, Type 2 diabetes and some cancers. Middle-income people and middle-aged men — so many workers in the wastewater industry — have even higher rates of obesity. This a widespread lifestyle issue you can help address. If you want an idea about obesity, use the CDC’s body mass index calculator tool (www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/assessing/bmi/adult_bmi/english_bmi_calculator/bmi_calculator.html) to see where you stand.

You can take action to help everyone at work adopt a healthier lifestyle. Call on a medical professional and nutritionist to talk about weight loss tips and a healthier diet. Look for ways to get people moving during the workday, with ideas like lunchtime walks and morning stretching to prevent muscle strain and back injury. Replace the bowl of candy bars on the counter with healthy snacks like fruits and nuts. Share in the cost of gym memberships for those workers who want to take the activity up a notch and really get in shape.


When you go beyond the paycheck and help employees improve and grow, everyone benefits. A happier, healthier and more fulfilled team will build service efficiency, reduce sick days and other downtime, and reveal future industry leaders. Furthermore, helping each of your employees reach financial security and his or her full potential in the community will bring the greatest satisfaction a small-business owner can know. 


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