Restroom Problems!

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about clean restroom practice:

How do I address my co-workers that everyone needs to clean up after her/him self when using the restroom?

Signed, Want It Clean

Dear Want It Clean:

You are to be commended in taking on this task of persuading your co-workers. You have a right to be disgusted and angry when you enter your restroom and find toilets not flushed, paper left on the floor, sinks dirty, and breath in the smell human waste. Clean restrooms in the workplace are a matter of health and hygiene and personal comfort, whether you are a boss, a co-worker, or the individual assigned to keep them clean. Below I suggest three approaches you might consider: 1. Damn angry, 2. Break the rules and pay, and 3. Good Citizenship Consciousness Raising.

There is the damn angry persuasive message: You can vent your anger to any co-worker you see who does not clean up after use of the facilities. You can informally start a conversation about your displeasure when encountering filth that some anonymous co-worker has left. Being damn angry can be persuasive. Someone who vents her/his anger in effect is warning; “If you don’t clean up and I catch you, expect my wrath!” Also you can post signs such as: · FLUSH! DAMN IT. · PUT YOURSELF IN THE PLACE OF THE NEXT USER · WIPE THE SINK BEFORE YOU LEAVE OR BE A SLOB · THANK YOU FOR MAKING THIS PLACE CLEANER THAN WHEN YOU ENTERED A second approach is break the rules of good citizenship and expect to pay. This approach entails alerting those who make the rules to put in writing rules about personal responsibility for clean restrooms. This approach requires penalties and enforcement. If you were the one assigned to clean restrooms, you would much appreciate a floor supervisor who “arrested” those who did not clean up after themselves. Proving such a crime is not an easy or pleasant task; however, fear and penalties for littering have helped keep out highways clearer, and that same principle should apply to co-workers’ irresponsible use of workplace restrooms. A third persuasive approach raises citizenship consciousness.

You as an individual can ask your supervisor to put the topic of workplace cleanliness on the agenda of a staff/work group meeting, and you can suggest that this topic deserves more than simply a word of encouragement of taking personal responsibility or a warning about dirty restrooms. Rather what you should request is time for group discussion of how to beautify and make more pleasant the restroom facilities. What should follow is conversation of what is unpleasant and what might correct that. A workplace restroom need not have gray walls covered with gross graffiti, poor 40 watt lighting, and unvented cubicles such that I have seen in some places. Employee restrooms should as clean and inviting as restrooms are in high-end restaurants; ones by which customers judge whether to ever come to that place to eat again. A criterion that might be suggested in your work group discussion is: Our restroom should be the kind of place I that users want to keep clean.

The question of clean restrooms is in fact a larger matter; a matter of ethical/social responsibility/irresponsibility. Companies are increasingly becoming more involved in their responsibility of a sustainable environment. This is to suggest that even a topic so everyday practical as workplace restrooms is not unrelated from the larger responsibility for not messing up our homes, streets, parks, and air and water.

Workplace Doctor Tina Lewis Rowe has prepared a statement that addresses worker and workplace hygiene. I’m sure you will find it speaks to you and your co-workers: Working together with hands, head, and heart (and that also means responsibility for human waste) takes and makes big WEGOS. Please let us know what you elect to do and what does and/or doesn’t work.

William Gorden