I realize the past year has been tough. We’re all looking for a little relief. But that’s not an excuse for bad behavior. Check out today’s reader note.
Good Day! I have to say I love your blog. I do custodial work in a health care facility and this issue has haunted me for a long time. Believe it or not, the nurses leave the breakroom a complete mess. I spend a ton of time not just cleaning the area, which is part of my job, but cleaning up things that they should take care of like dirty dishes, crumbs everywhere, etc. Yesterday, somebody even left dirty socks on a chair.
I am too afraid to bring the issue up and don’t know how to. What do you suggest?
This reader actually sent me a photo of how the nurses leave the workplace. I’m not going to share it but let me say something. If you saw this picture, you would probably question the level of health care that you were receiving from this place. That’s how bad it is. Which is also why the situation needs to be addressed.
But there are several things we don’t know. For example, were the messes left because the nurses had to leave in a hurry to save a patient’s life? I’d like to think if that’s the case then the custodian would understand, and I would have never received this note. But we don’t know any specifics. So, we can only generalize to every workplace.
Leaving your work area clean and tidy is the right thing to do. Regardless of where you work, no one wants to work someplace that looks unsanitary. That includes the breakroom. Even when you have a custodial team. I’ve never seen a custodial job description that included “picking up after employees who don’t know how to clean up after themselves.” If you’re an employee who has left more than your fair share of messes, now is the time to stop. You know who you are.
If an employee leaves the breakroom a mess, there’s a possibility they do the same in customer areas. It’s possible that an employee has a messy home and a clean work area. But personally, I wouldn’t put the odds very high. Employees should be told the level of expectation when it comes to how they maintain customer and employee areas. They should be held accountable to that standard. Oh sure, there might be an emergency when an employee isn’t able to tidy up. We’re not talking about exceptions here.
If employees can see this mess, then chances are, that managers are aware. The reader note leads me to believe this situation has been happening for a while. Which also leads me to believe that management knows about it. Or they should know about it. And they should have already addressed it. If I were a manager at this facility and I was walking a job candidate around and saw this mess…that could keep someone from accepting a job offer. Dirty, smelly work environments can become part of your brand.
Please forgive the rant here but as a HR professional and a manager, this isn’t how I should be spending my time. Employees should have been told on Day One what the expectations are for keeping a clean work area and breakroom. Done. If someone doesn’t follow the rules, ask them to fix the situation. Organizations are focused on economic recovery right now. HR and managers want to spend their time hiring and helping employees succeed in their jobs. I would rather spend my time fighting for employee pay increases than cleaning up a breakroom. I hope anyone reading this article sees my point.
If you’re an employee working in an office right now, take a moment to think about how to keep a clean workspace. If you’re a manager, make sure employees understand the performance standard when it comes to keeping work and break areas tidy. Honestly, the custodian shouldn’t have to tell the company that their co-workers are slobs. They should be focused on cleaning the areas that they are responsible for.
Image captured by Sharlyn Lauby while exploring the Wynwood Art District in Miami, FL
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