Dealing with Worker Morale During the COVID-19 Pandemic

We already know the professional cleaning industry is on the Frontline helping to stop the spread of COVID-19. Many of my clients have told me that since about mid-March, their phones have been ringing off the hook with current customers and non-customers, asking them to come in and deep-clean and sanitize their facilities.

worker morale

We know we are needed more now than ever before.

But, working with my clients, I have noticed signs of a worker morale problem among custodial workers. 

The reasons are apparent, they are concerned that while performing their cleaning duties, they many inadvertently touch contaminated surfaces and then touch their nose, mouth, or eyes, coming in contact with the disease.

This is causing a paranoia that can negatively impact worker morale. 

To address these worker morale issues, here are my suggestions:

CEOs stay calm. 

If you are in a top position in your company, it is essential that you stay calm and manage your emotions. If you are panicked or concerned, it will filter throughout the office and on to custodial workers, impacting company morale along the way.

Credible information. 

If providing updates on the virus, which is recommended, here are the sources to use: the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and WHO (World Health Organization). All other credible news sources will get their information from these two organizations, so these are the ones to pay attention to.


Regularly meet with custodial workers and remind them of the proper steps to stay healthy. This tells them you are concerned about their welfare. You may also need to be direct. For example, a custodial worker could approach you as we usually would in typical conversation. Remind the worker to stay back six feet.

Meet and discuss. 

Company brass should be meeting with all custodial workers, listening to their concerns, and addressing them. Remember, they are on the Frontline. They may point out issues that can be performed differently or more safely, helping to protect their health. Meet and discuss regularly.

Call it by its right name. 

Whatever your political persuasion, we are not dealing with a Chinese disease, a Latino disease, or an extraterrestrial disease. Let’s get that straight. This is no time to create unnecessary tensions that can negatively impact worker morale. We are dealing with coronavirus, now officially called COVID-19.

Be empathetic. 

We may have no choice but to relax some work policies and guidelines. Childcare options may be limited during the pandemic, and some workers may be needed as caregivers. Try to loosen restrictions and adjust where possible. This will be appreciated by workers and help lift morale.

Mitigate work. 

While there is no evidence, that a custodial worker is more likely to come in contact with COVID-19 by cleaning restrooms instead of cleaning office space or a commercial kitchen, some workers may be concerned about it. Move people around, have them handle different cleaning tasks. This mitigating the risk, whether founded or not, will help reduce those concerns and help lift spirits.

Ron Segura is president of Segura Associates. His company works with building managers as well as large and small contractors, helping them build their brands and streamline business operations. This helps reduce costs and allows them to operate more profitably.  He can be reached at:

Additional information on COVID-19 and the professional cleaning industry is located here.