The Workplace Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for members of the workforce navigating the professional setting. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

We have 1 men's toilet + 1 urinal at work for about 15-20 men and 1 women's toilet for 3-4 women. The problem we have is that some of the employees don't check if everything has been flushed properly and that the bowl is clean.

According to the employees working here for a few years, this problem has been around for years. Management is getting notified of this issue a few times per year, notices have been hung out in the toilet room and it's even been mentioned on monthly meetings. But we still have this issue. It's unsanitary and unhealthy. The toilet is sometimes used by customers as well, so this also affects our public image.

What steps can be taken to ensure that this doesn't happen anymore?

share|improve this question
The problem we have is that some of the employees don't check if everything has been flushed properly and that the bowl is clean. Maybe not, the actual problem is that the toilets are perceived as dirty, employees not checking if everything has been flushed is already a possible cause (other include inadequate cleaning schedule or even no professional cleaning at all, insufficient capacity, etc.) Adding a toilet, while possibly impractical, would probably help a lot. – Relaxed Mar 6 '14 at 13:10
up vote 45 down vote accepted

Consider the broken window theory. People will vandalize much more easily in an unclean environment.

In my previous workplace and my current workplace, the cleaning company comes around every day. They only have about 10 minutes of work mostly: emptying the trash cans, putting the mugs in the dishwasher, cleaning the toilets. Workers also kept them that way. This works, because any and all small issues (like a paper towel that missed the trash can) are cleaned up before they escalate due to Broken Window Syndrome. Suggest to do the same in your office.

Note: I always worked in high-end information worker positions; it was unthinkable to ask employees to clean the toilets.

share|improve this answer
If the company can afford it, a cleaning crew is a clear investment. You will then have a happy administration that do not get piles of complains about dirty toilets and filled trashcans. And employees will also be happy for the same reasons. – Sharain Mar 5 '14 at 12:17
Great answer. Conversely, don't fall into a pattern of passive-aggressive behavior (e.g. angry notes, water cooler rants, etc.), which will only increase tension and decrease any real motivation to help (the beauty of the broken window theory approach is that the motivation is positive and self-induced rather than being caused by shame, fear, or anger). – Jason C Mar 6 '14 at 6:57
Ehm, Note: I always worked in high-end information worker positions; it was unthinkable to ask employees to clean the toilets.. Do you imply that physical workers or workers at lower levels can be asked to clean the toilet? Who has raised that arrogance/elitism into you? – phresnel Mar 6 '14 at 9:29
@phresnel: It's not that I'm above it. It just doesn't make any business sense. The higher the revenue per employee (i.e. per employee working hour), the more services get outsourced. At Google, it is unthinkable to have to bring/buy/prepare your own food: is that 'arrogance/elitism'? (see also – parasietje Mar 6 '14 at 11:54
@parasietje: That's really unobvious from what you actually wrote in your answer. And your comment is flipping around what I wrote: Of course it is not elitist if employees don't have to buy food (=convenience to make happy) or don't have to clean the toilet (=this should never be the case). But it's elitist to imply that "low-end" workers might be abused for jobs they were not contracted for. And even in most "low-end" jobs, cleaning the toilet makes no business sense at all. – phresnel Mar 6 '14 at 12:13

Start a toilet cleaning rota that has to be signed off when done (similar to pub toilets with the piece of paper on the wall!) and make it part of people's objectives/bring it up in performance reviews if not done.

It is the only way to foster any sort of collective responsibility for the state of the toilets as it is obvious everyone appears to think it is someone else problem

Failing that, employer a cleaner and inform everyone that there will be no bonuses this year due to the cost of having to employ a cleaner to clean up after everyone!

share|improve this answer
Not possible in high-end jobs. Are you going to ask a sales director to clean toilets? Please. – parasietje Mar 5 '14 at 10:16
@parasietje - no mention of grades within the question. The fact that employees were mentioned and then "management have been notified" sort of implies it's not the MD that is leaving the toilets in a state. And it is not about cleaning the toilets, it is about leaving the toilet clean - basic human cleanliness and manners – Mike Mar 5 '14 at 10:41
I completely agree though having re-read your comment in a different context - my propsed solution only works up to a certain grade – Mike Mar 5 '14 at 10:57
Some people are of the mindset that I get paid x no matter what I do... so I'm not above doing y... some people are of the mindset that I get paid x and doing y is beneath my station. Who is going to enforce the former on upper management that believe in the latter? – WernerCD Mar 5 '14 at 14:47
I am paid to bill the customer. The company makes no money if I am charging for overhead activities like cleaning the restroom. It makes no sense for the company to ask me to clean toilets when they can hire a cleaning company to come in and clean the entire office a couple days over for the money and schedule they would lose while I am cleaning restrooms. Even if my company weren't billing a customer, I don't think they would like losing schedule so I and my team can clean restrooms. I certainly wouldn't give restroom cleaning time for free on top of my other work. It would replace my work. – Dunk Mar 5 '14 at 18:26

protected by Joe Strazzere Mar 6 '14 at 12:44

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality or spam answers that had to be removed, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site (the association bonus does not count).

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.