Q: “Our break room and shower area are always a mess. One of my co-workers and I can’t get anyone else to sweep, do the laundry or tidy up. My boss keeps telling us to figure out how to keep it clean, since we’re the ones who use it every day. How can we come up with a fair way to be sure some regular cleaning gets done?”

A: The challenge with common areas is that everyone uses them, but only people who like neat areas do the cleaning. The solution is to develop a fair, balanced and consistent way to be sure that the laundry, sweeping, trash disposal and general tidying up get done.

One way to do this is to set up a regular schedule based on who has to do weekend chores. With this option, the people who work the entire weekend have to see that by Sunday evening, the trash is taken out; the counters are cleared and wiped down; the floors are swept; the laundry is clean, folded and put away; the showers are scrubbed and so forth. These duties can be shared by all of the weekend employees. Crews can divide the tasks further, so that the breeding crew does the laundry, the farrowing crew does the trash and counters, and so forth.

Why does it fall to the weekend crew? Because there’s already a schedule in place; they have the entire weekend to ensure it gets done; and each week starts off with a clean space.

Your crew also can establish consequences if jobs don’t get done. Possible penalties could be: having to buy donuts for the next morning break; washing the break room or shower walls; cleaning the globes in the light fixtures; washing the boss’ pickup; cleaning out the refrigerator. Also, the vioator still has to complete his original duties.

Other systems can be developed. You and your co-workers need to decide what will work best for you. Ask some of your co-workers to help create the system, present the ideas to your boss, and then present the plan to the entire crew. You will need your boss’ support to make it work and to enforce the consequences. Also, the individual cooperation required within the plan should be spelled out in each employee’s annual review, as it reflects teamwork.

If you have questions for Dear Boss, send them to:

Don Tyler,

P.O. Box 67, Stockwell, IN47983
or e-mail to don@dontyler.com.

Your letter will remain confidential, and may or may not get an individual reply.