Cleaners and handymen get equity at startup Managed by Q

Managed by Q
Founder Dan Teran says Managed by Q "needs the best people" to succeed. U.S. Labor Secretary Tom Perez praised the company for starting offer stock options to its cleaners.

Startup Managed by Q isn't humble about its ambitions: It wants to be known not only for its success, but also for how it treats its workers. And on Friday, it said it will give its cleaners and handymen equity in the company.

The startup -- a/k/a Q -- takes a tech-enabled approach to office cleaning. It has hundreds of business customers who hire it to take care of crucial but unglamorous office needs -- keep track of cleaning and office supplies, request handymen and schedule cleanings. Q's customers manage it all via iPads.

Its cleaners and handyman are obviously core to the business. That's why Q will be giving them, as a group, 5% ownership of the company over the next five years. The program starts on July 1 and stock awards will be based on workers' experience and skills.

Q already provides them full health benefits, 401(k)s, bonuses, paid time off and career development programs.

And its workers are, in fact, employees -- not contract workers.

As the on-demand economy grows, the reliance on contract workers by firms such as Uber, Lyft and Handy has become a controversial subject.

Contract workers for many on-demand companies typically aren't paid the minimum wage or overtime and don't get health insurance. Some workers have sued, arguing that they're being misclassified. Politicians have called for policy changes to better protect workers.

Related: Uber rival says its drivers will own the company

But Q, which is just two years old, says it is trying to set an example with its equity program.

"We want to deliver the best service, we need the best people for the job. And in order to attract the best people for the job, we just need to be the best employer," said Dan Teran, the cofounder and CEO of Managed by Q.

Teran, 26, made the announcement alongside Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez at Managed by Q's headquarters in New York City.

Managed by Q has more than 500 employees across its four offices in New York, Chicago, San Francisco and Los Angeles.

It has raised $17.4 million from investors since launching two years ago. Teran insists that giving his workers full benefits is good for his business.

"It's real and it works," he said. "We've seen time and time again that if we invest in our operators, they drive value for the business. You don't have to choose between a good business model and good jobs."

Related: Honor converts contract workers into full-time employees

Perez praised Teran and Managed by Q's efforts.

"There's a school of thought that says the only way we can grow this economy is through low wage, no benefit jobs. I categorically reject that."

Perez stressed that companies can do well -- and do good. "The high road is indeed the smart road ... It's a loyalty promoter."

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