Thank The Cleaners? Why?


Has it ever dawned on you to thank the person who empties your trash and cleans your office during the night when you are at home with your family? Where I work, I hear people complain from time-to-time that their garbage can or recycling bin wasn’t emptied the night before, but I can honestly say I’ve never heard them talk about what a good job the cleaners did the previous evening.

This past week we were fortunate at my work to have our cleaning staff do one of their extensive cleaning jobs; the kind where we get an email to move everything off the floor so they can easily do more than just vacuum the carpets but really go at them. They also cleaned our chairs and washed our windows the night before the carpets. I for one and thankful for this service.

What I find interesting though is the complaining from some in having to move all their stuff off the floor and then have to do it a second night in a row. Wow. Two nights in a row that happens maybe twice a year when the cleaners do a thorough cleaning job and that’s inconvenient? I don’t understand that. Seems to me it is far better to show gratitude for this service both to the cleaner and to Management for paying for this additional service.

Every so often I leave a note for the cleaner on my desk thanking the cleaner and expressing my gratitude. I’ve never met this person, don’t know if they are male or female, tall or short, black or white, happy or frustrated, single or married, but I do know they are human. Humans I have found like to be acknowledged and thanked every so often for what it is they do, especially when what they do is seldom acknowledged because then it means more.

So why thank the cleaner? Selfishly I could tell you that it might mean they do a better job in my office than in other ones. Maybe that’s true I can’t really say. But I do know that it takes about ten seconds to take a blank piece of paper and with a pen print, “Thank you for cleaning my office. Much appreciated!” Those 8 words found every so often by a cleaner going about their business after hours when the place is deserted might come as a welcomed item, letting them know what they do is actually appreciated by the person who occupies that space. And maybe it even puts a smile on their face. 10 seconds = a smile; I like that equation.

Unfortunately, I imagine in many workplaces the only time the cleaner gets talked about, (or talked to) is when they have someone not performed up to expectations. “Ah the cleaner didn’t do a very good job last night! What do they actually do? Anything?” Yes that might be the more popular refrain. And when they do their job to their best ability it largely goes unnoticed and taken for granted. So some will see an empty waste bin with a new bag in it, a clean carpet, shrug and go about their day.

Don’t we however like our colleagues and those we serve to every now and then say something nice about the service we’ve provided? Sure we do. When a client says, “Thanks Kelly, I really appreciate what you’ve done for me”, I know that makes me feel good about what I’ve done. Why then not extend the same kindness on to the invisible cleaner who likewise does their job which I in turn appreciate?

This also extends to the landlord of your building. The person who replaces your light bulbs when they go out, the maintenance staff who check the duct work when your too cold or too hot. And have you ever put a ticket into your IT department that just logs your appreciation for the work they do or do you just reserve your tickets for, “here’s another mess for you guys to solve.”

What am I talking about really? Relationship building. Go home and tell your spouse you’re having a relationship with your cleaner and the IT department. On second thought, don’t. They won’t understand. Have one anyway. Not only do I leave a note every so often for the cleaner, I’ve also been known to leave a candy on that note. Something unexpected but hopefully welcomed that doesn’t slow them down but might be accepted as a, “Hey I’m acknowledging that you exist and I appreciate what it is you do that lets me go about my job daily in a good environment.”

There are other people you could similarly thank including the bus driver who gets you to and from work. Maybe even a police officer you pass on the street. “Thanks for doing what you do” is all it takes. What about the minimum wage earning employee who makes your lunch? The person who picks up your dirty mats at work and lays down clean ones? The person who fixes the photocopiers or tests your fire extinguishers? There are all kinds of people going about their jobs who make your day better (or not) in how they go about their own job. Why not say thank you?

Keep your eyes open today for opportunities to acknowledge others for what it is they do. Even the person picking up cigarette butts in your parking lot could use a, “Thank you”.

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