Retain Quality Employees in Your Portable Sanitation Business

Attracting and retaining quality employees is becoming increasingly challenging. As a sanitation business owner, it’s time to rethink your benefits and other perks to make your industry more appealing and improve retention.

Why Is Employee Retention a Challenge?

Employee retention has emerged as a widespread issue over the past few years. More than 41 million Americans quit their jobs in 2021.

With inflation exceeding 8%, a significant number of employees decide to seek employment opportunities with higher pay. A growing number of employees are also becoming dissatisfied with their work environment or a lack of opportunities for advancement.

The generational shift that is happening as Baby Boomers retire is accentuating this trend. Millennials and Gen Zers now make up almost half of the workforce. These young adults are more likely to change jobs.

Even though job openings are down, there are still over 10 million positions available, and the job market can be competitive.

Top Strategies for Employee Retention in the Sanitation Industry

Increasing compensation is a proven strategy for increasing hiring and retention. However, it’s not always a realistic solution during an economic downturn.

Read on to learn more about alternatives you can use to retain employees for your sanitation business.

Step #1: Rethink Your Benefits Package

While benefits increase the cost of labor, the ROI can be potentially higher in terms of retention compared to increased compensation.

Here are a few major items you should consider offering as benefits:

  • For 62% of employees, a 401(k) match is crucial for retention. It’s common for employers to match around 6% of contributions, and this amount can be relatively low if you have a young workforce who is making small contributions.
  • If health insurance is cost-prohibitive, consider an employer-sponsored Health Savings Account or discount plans as alternatives.
  • With only 57% of private industry workers having access to life insurance, a life policy can be an inexpensive benefit that sets you apart on the job market.
  • Education stipends are another attractive perk that can increase retention for employees with long-term career goals.

Step #2: Explore Extra Perks

A majority of businesses are seeing their profit margins shrink, and the sanitation industry is no exception.

If you can only afford one or two of the major benefits listed above, you can explore additional perks that will add value to your benefits package without breaking the bank:

  • Research shows that entertainment spending is down due to the recession. Make a difference by offering tickets to local events.
  • A gym membership can add value and support wellness goals.
  • Think about offering gift cards to help pay for gas, groceries, clothes, and other items. You can usually get a discount when purchasing gift cards in bulk.
  • Do you have employees who live far? Offer commuter benefits to let these employees pay for their commuting expenses with tax-free dollars. Plus, you’ll save on payroll taxes.

Step #3: Offer Flexible Scheduling

Flexibility is one of the major appeals of the current boom in work-from-home jobs we’re seeing. As a portable sanitation business owner, you need employees who are present on the field, but you can make your workplace more appealing with flex scheduling.

Flex scheduling is a perk that can improve work-life balance. It can also help reduce expenses linked to childcare for parents with young children.

You can adopt a flex scheduling policy by letting employees pick the days they want to work. You can also let employees complete their work before or after traditional business hours.

Offering more time off, even for the long term, can also contribute to a more flexible workplace.

Step #4: Reward Employees Based on Performance

If handing out raises isn’t possible due to the recession, you can explore other ways of increasing compensation based on performance:

  • You can hand out a monthly or quarterly bonus if your portable sanitation business reaches a goal.
  • Consider offering a weekly bonus to employees who take on additional hours.
  • A profit-sharing program can keep employees engaged and motivated.
  • You can also reward top-performing employees with partial ownership in your company.
  • Think about launching a referral program to generate more leads and give employees additional opportunities to earn money.

Step #5: Create a Path for Growth

Retention will go up if employees see the portable sanitation industry as a career instead of a job.

The key is to create a path for growth and support employees as they work on their professional goals. You can make a difference by offering training and mentoring.

Promoting from within will also help keep employees engaged and give them a clear path forward. If you’re in a position to expand your sanitation business, consider offering franchising opportunities to your most experienced employees.

Step #6: Focus on Building a Positive Work Environment

Employees who genuinely enjoy what they do for a living are less likely to quit. You can turn your portable sanitation business into a workplace that provides employees with a positive environment where they can thrive, connect with others, and make a difference:

  • Work on open communication. Everyone should feel safe about speaking up and sharing ideas. Ask around to find out what employees would like to change.
  • Offer support in the form of clear expectations and regular feedback. Provide additional training if needed.
  • Make the job feel more meaningful. Consider launching a volunteering program, offering free rentals to non-profits, or organizing donation drives.
  • Make a difference by establishing yourself as a leader and advocate for ADA-compliant sanitation solutions.
  • Celebrate your achievements together. Make employees feel valued by acknowledging their hard work and connect by celebrating together.


Retaining employees for sanitation businesses can be challenging due to the current economic conditions and high rates of turnover that most industries are seeing.

You can increase retention by building an attractive benefits package, looking for affordable perks, and creating a more flexible and meaningful workplace. We also recommend communicating with employees to find out which perks are the most important to them.

In our next post, we discuss how to make the most out of business purchases and customer rewards programs during a recession. You can read our last post about assessing your sanitation business’s financial health here.

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