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What HR can do to get everyone involved keeping the office clean

Five nice (and not-so-nice) ways to get everyone to chip in.

What HR can do to get everyone involved keeping the office clean

Even if your office has a dedicated cleaning crew, it’s still up to employees to do their part to help keep the office tidy. So how do you get employees to pull their own weight?

With National Clean Off Your Desk Day coming up on Monday, Jan. 12, it’s a great time for human resources and managers to look at how they can get everyone involved in keeping the office clean. Here are some tips.

Schedule clean-up days

One or two times a year, schedule a dedicated day for deep cleans. “Twice a year (year-end and over the summer), we post a notice on the refrigerator that all items will be thrown away over a set weekend period,” says Ashley White, HR director with the American Productivity & Quality Center (APQC). They also use that time to clean common areas and storage closets. “Trash bins are provided for all areas. Any items that a staff member wishes to keep must be noted with their name and date.”

Tie cleanliness to safety

APQC is based in Houston, and so before hurricane season, the office goes through its weather readiness process. “The purpose is to ensure everyone remembers the safety precautions and ways to protect their computers/phones/materials, but it’s also a great way to de-clutter and also to ensure all key items are protected and filed away,” White says.

Keep cleaning supplies handy

If you stock the supply room with cleaning supplies, they’ll be available when people need them. Seeing the supplies can also remind people to tidy up. “Our kitchen has visible cleansing wipes, paper towels and large trash bins for recycle and regular trash. Our bathrooms are also equipped with cleaning supplies and a plunger for immediate cleaning needs,” White says.

Distribute responsibility

Howard Davies, operations manager at Resume Writer Direct, says every employee there is responsible for office clean-up on a different day. “On that day, the person named is responsible for cleaning the office: tidying desks, washing mugs, emptying trash cans, sweeping the floor. For each item of trash they find on someone’s desk, each dirty mug, each full trash can, the person responsible must pay a $1 fine to that day's cleaner.”

The office is cleaned daily, the person who is cleaning has a chance to earn a few dollars and the rest of the team has a stake in keeping their areas tidy, he says. “Ultimately, everyone is in a good routine of not leaving any mess anymore, which means the daily cleaner also has very little to do — perhaps two minutes sweeping the floor at most.”

Name and shame

If you have habitual offenders who just can’t seem to get their act together, you may have to up your game. “I have heard of a company that had a bulletin board where photos of messy workspaces were posted,” says Debbie Good, clinical assistant professor of business administration at the Katz Graduate School of Business and College of Business Administration at the University of Pittsburgh. “The board was in a very public area and offenders tended to clear their workspaces quickly once the photo was posted.”


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