Frustrated With Housekeeping

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about occupational status and HR:

I work in the hospitality field, and because I work in the housekeeping department, the Human Resources staff looks down on us. They never speak. They act as if they are too good for us. What do you suggest I do? I don’t trust going to them if I have a problem. They never smile, and, if they do, it’s always fake. Help me out here.

Signed, No smiles here

Dear No smiles here:

Housekeeping is basic to providing hospitality. As the saying goes: Cleanliness is close to Godliness. All too often those who do the dirty work, so essential to making life livable and comfortable, get little recognition. You are living that sad fact of working-life–of feeling unappreciated–and that makes your work harder. Of course, you know this.

You don’t say how you cope with this? It would be understandable for you to complain to family and coworkers. We all need to find a little support and sympathy. However, complaining to family and coworkers can’t provide enough comfort to make up for those who rarely show you appreciation.You can become bitter and depressed. You look coldly at those who don’t genuinely smile at you. You could pass them with a sour face. Might that make you feel good? Getting back at someone who treats you disrespectfully might make you feel a little better, but sadly, a sour disposition only makes the day darker.

You don’t say if any specific actions of your supervisors or managers have been rude or mean. You simply say that HR looks down on you. So what might you do to help HR understand how you feel and to change behavior to that of looking up to you? Here are some possibilities to consider:

-Confer with your coworkers about ways to cut wasted supplies, wasted time, and wasted money.

-Add to that suggestions about how to make a guests’ stay even more pleasant. In a playful, yet seriously way, focus for the next week on creating a list of what you might call Value-Added Housekeepers.

-Think of what you might do if you owned the place you work. Post that list in your work area and do those things that you can do that don’t permission. Keep a record of the amount of supplies, time, and money you save. Then meet with management to discuss what you and your coworkers have done on your own as Value-Added Housekeepers. At that meeting, bring up other practical suggestions you’ve been talking about to make guests stay more pleasant and your work more effectiveManagers get excited when employees talk quality, delighting customers, and pride in what they contribute.

– Meet with HR to frankly tell them how you feel. Tell them what you say in this note to us. Say that you know housekeeping is vital to the success of your Comfort Hotel (or whatever is the name of your place of work), and say how faithfully you do the often backbreaking and dirty work. Before such a face-to-face confrontation, spend enough time to know how to put what you want into words. Be specific about what will make you feel respected and appreciated.

– Become a member of a housekeeping association, if you are not already. Am I correct in assuming that you don’t know anything about a Housekeeping Association or Union? For example, join the non-profit International Executives Housekeepers Association. http://www.ieha.org/ There are hundreds of chapters listed and it offers educational/certification programs. Before you join, see what this or other associations say on their website, brochures and magazines. For example, the look up Laura DiGiulio, editor of Executive Housekeeping Today. The magazine’s address id 1001 Eastwood Drive, Suite 301, Westerville, OH 43081-3361. http://www.spoke.com/info/pF83eJR/LauraDiGiulio.

This and other such sources should give you an idea of how to get the respect you deserve. Talking with housekeepers at other establishments might also give you a way to compare yours in a realistic way.

– Since most of us need work and many workplaces are not as employee friendly as they should be. Accept that fact and determine to do what you realistically can, and accept the fact that change doesn’t come easily. But keep you head high and find support from coworkers without continuously badmouthing those at levels that garner respect, the kind of respect you want.

What can you do? You can do something. You can tell me if any of these suggestions make sense. You can think and talk about how my signature sentence might apply to your situation: Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS.

William Gorden