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How to overcome staff resistance to cleaning

How to overcome staff resistance to cleaning
Most people clean their bathrooms and toilets once a week or, more likely, once a fortnight. While cleaning our own homes and toilets can be seen as an odious chore, imagine the levels of resistance people have towards cleaning commercial spaces, toilets, and high-traffic areas.

Mahatma Gandhi believed that people benefit from cleaning toilets, which he practiced regularly, because cleaning teaches humility and dignity. He reportedly said, "So long as you do not take a broom and bucket in your own hands, you cannot make your towns and cities clean."

Nevertheless, most people do not share Gandhi's enthusiasm, which can create problems for employers operating businesses, restaurants, cafes, gyms, childcare centres, and other public facilities. This is because the cleanliness, hygiene, and sanitation of high-traffic areas impact the customer experience and can have both a positive or negative effect on profits, customer loyalty, and reputation.

One of the primary complaints on Google reviews and other travel review sites is about cleanliness and hygiene because of the physical, emotional, and psychological impact that cleanliness, or lack thereof, can have on us personally.

For many workplaces, cleanliness and hygiene are outsourced, which isn't really practical for businesses like petrol stations, restaurants, schools, cafes, and entertainment facilities because of the high volume of traffic; the responsibility usually falls to staff who would rather avoid that particular chore like they do the plague.

Staff and their bosses resist cleaning for the same reasons and, unfortunately and unfairly, cleaning staff are usually the least paid and the least regarded despite the fact that their role is so critical to everybody's wellness, hygiene, and even mental health.

Some employees also raise objections about it being unhygienic to clean one minute and serve customers the next.

The key to getting staff buy-in when it comes to cleaning toilets, counters, kitchen facilities etc., is training.

Somebody who lacks cleaning skills is a hygiene risk to themselves and others and, importantly, they are more likely to be resistant to the chore, either avoiding it or putting in minimal effort.

As one employee told the BBC, she was expected to clean “but was given no practical training, only a ten-minute online training module.” "Managers would simply point and say, 'clean that'," she said.

"Cleaning is a skilled job and it will not be done properly by people with no training, for example, how to disinfect cloths and mop heads when there's no washing machine."

Because everybody cleans, many employers don't regard the task as requiring any special skills, but this couldn't be further from the truth. Cleaning techniques, attention to detail, health and safety, and process need to be learned—they're not a given.

Knowledge breeds confidence, and training your staff to work quickly, efficiently, and effectively will reduce resistance to the task.

Elon Musk describes tools as the building blocks of progress, while Benjamin Franklin maintained that the right tools make all the difference in the world. Few would disagree that one can accomplish almost anything with the right tools.

Giving staff a mop, a couple of rags, and a spray bottle does not equip them to do the job effectively, never mind making the task easier and quicker, which, in turn, leads to resistance.

Equip your staff for success with some cleaning essentials:

Microfibre cloths, or wet wipes, e.g., Rubbermaid Microfibre light commercial cloth, Sorb-X Green Wipeouts, and Pod Petite Wipes.
Spray bottles with high-quality cleaning products, e.g., BioProtect Surface Spray Disinfectant or the 3-in-1 ISO Pro3 water-based cleaner, sanitiser, and antimicrobial protectant.
Easy to manage and use mops, e.g., Rubbermaid HYGEN™ Pulse Mopping Kit and Caddy.
Vacuum cleaner, e.g., Nilfisk or Numatic.
Gloves, e.g., Hytec Natural Latex Gloves powder-free or, for the more environmentally conscious, the Hytec Nitrile glove range.
A good scrubbing brush, e.g., Rubbermaid Reveal Power Scrubber.
Cleaning cart, e.g., Rubbermaid SLIM JIM® Single Steam Cleaning Cart Kit.

Ensure you organise the cleaning tools and products, so they are easy to access and store away. The aim is to make cleaning as easy as possible.

Proper equipment, effective cleaning consumables, and comprehensive training will equip staff with the necessary tools and knowledge to efficiently tackle cleaning tasks in high-traffic areas, as well helping to considerably reduce their reluctance to taking on cleaning tasks.