Can You Make People Clean Up After Themselves At Work?
How many battles have been fought in the workplace kitchen? The colleague who simply dumps their plates in the sink and leaves them for someone else. The overgrown leftovers in the fridge that no-one has claimed. The missing teaspoons and knives that leave only a handful of forks to eat your soup with. The coffee cups left abandoned around the building. Invariably, it means that there are a few people that clean up after the rest, and a handful of passive aggressive notices Sellotaped to the wall of the kitchen.
Why Do Some People Not Clean Up at Work?
When most people wouldn’t do this at home, why do they leave a mess at work? It’s a psychological theory called diffusion of responsibility. This is when a person is less likely to clean their mess up because they can assume that someone else will clean it. And, in terms of a workplace, they are often correct. So how can you resolve it?
How Can You Ensure The Kitchen Is Left Clean?
Make a roster that allocates people to certain tasks over certain timeframes. Make sure that list includes the boss, so that it sets an example that everyone must contribute, especially leadership. This ensures that the kitchen is tidied daily and the dishwasher is started.
A Roster Can Have Unintended Side Effects
However, if you divide up kitchen duties among staff, it may have the unintended consequence of making them abandon tidiness at all other times and focus only on their role or their ‘day’. It becomes a firm ‘Not My Job’ and those cups will simply be left in the sink for Someone Else. So how can you avoid this?
Give permission for people to call others out for their laziness. If Dave leaves his plate in the sink, ask him to rinse it and put it in the dishwasher. If Terry leaves half-drunk cold cups of coffee lying around, make it the norm that people will ask him to clean it up.
Reward Good Behaviour
If the kitchen remains clean for a certain timeframe, you can offer a reward- maybe it’s time for a new coffee machine, or a set of new un-chipped mugs. Or, you can punish bad behaviour. One workplace had individual coffee cups made up, which meant that people who left their dirty cups lying around became very obvious and had no cup to drink out of!