Since he was 15 and mopped floors at a shopping mall, Planned Cos. president and CEO Robert Francis has had a special respect for janitors and maintenance workers.
“We care about culture,” says Francis, whose family has owned the Parsippany, New year history. That's why Francis launched a virtual Planned School of Professional Development in 2009 to provide online career training to employees who work in janitorial, concierge and customer services, security and administration. The school encompasses 3,000 programs in subjects ranging from language and interviewing skills to computer training and conflict resolution.
He credits the program with helping the firm reduce turnover by 5 percent annually. Planned Cos. says it retains 75 to 80 percent of its workforce annually, while its competition keeps only 50 percent.
Originally designed for 65 employees in operations, administration and management, the school has been so successful that the company opened it to employees at all levels. Early next year, it is scheduled to open a 2,000-square-foot, on-site educational facility at company headquarters to offer further training in areas such as pool and elevator maintenance and “green” cleaning.
“The school is a retention tool as well as a way for us to tell employees, ‘We value you. We're proud of you and want you to feel that way back,' ” Francis says. “Our people see their work as a career, not just a job.
“I've been here 13 years and it still feels like we're just getting started,” he adds. “We've grown every year. We're always looking for ways to raise the bar.” For its commitment to career training in an unglamorous, high-turnover industry not known for employee enrichment, Planned Cos. is the recipient of the 2010 Optimas Award for Vision.
Workforce Management, December 2010, p. 28 -- Subscribe Now!