Cleaning offices. Assembling modular furniture. Stocking workplace kitchens. Providing security. These are often bad jobs. Have one, and chances are you’re working hard but not bringing home much more than the minimum wage. There’s no promotion in sight. And you have little if any control over your schedule.
Dan Teran knows all too well. In 2014, when he and his cofounder launched Managed by Q — a startup that provides office cleaning and maintenance — he was doing all those jobs, moonlighting as a staffer at the business he ran during the day.
“During our first year I spent almost every night cleaning offices or supervising cleaners, because we didn’t really know what we were doing,“ he recalls. “We would pretty much say yes to everything. Whatever tasks you wanted done, we did.”
That was no recipe for success. Employees were stretched thin, doing jobs they weren’t trained or equipped for. A lot of them were unhappy.
“It created bad outcomes for the business, bad outcomes for the customer, and a bad employee experience,” Teran says.
So as the company grew, Teran decided to integrate Zeynep Ton’s Good Jobs Strategy, or GJS, into the business plan for Q Services — the more traditional part of the company, which employs more than 700 W-2 workers. (The firm also provides a platform and marketplace for companies to connect with other service providers.) But there were some basic differences.
Unlike most companies Ton has worked with, Managed by Q is not a retailer. Also, Managed by Q is in a high-growth mode, whereas many of Ton’s retailers are older, more established companies. These things make Teran’s application of the GJS that much more intriguing. It’s not just about cleaning up service jobs; it’s also about making fast-moving startups better.
In applying the GJS, Teran has focused on four things: pay, scheduling, benefits, and advancement. Employees start at $12.50 an hour. Full-time workers average 120 hours a month, and they are offered health insurance and a 401(k) plan. Employees are part owners of the company, and they get stock options.
In addition, the company doesn’t take on jobs requiring specialized knowledge that its employees lack. By not accepting those kinds of tasks (such as taking care of orchids) and focusing on the most frequently requested ones (such as assembling furniture), Teran explains, the company sets employees up for success.
“The Good Jobs Strategy takes what could otherwise be a dead-end job and turns it into a real platform on which to build a career,” he says.
Is it working? Managed by Q has clients in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and the San Francisco Bay Area. And it’s profitable.
Hear Teran describe his application of the Good Jobs Strategy by clicking on the play button below.