Why Your Company Culture Starts in the Bathroom


Does your company’s restroom area really matter? Is there an unspoken but very loud value being proclaimed from the toilets? Maybe you have been frustrated with the lack of care for the facilities and do not know why employees can’t seem to understand how to bring cleanliness to the forefront of their thinking? Maybe you believe that a clean bathroom is an unachievable feat, just a part of human nature?

Not all cultures use the bathroom in the same way. In some Asian cultures, such as in Japan, the bathrooms tend to be some of the cleanliest in the world. Cleanliness is engrained in their culture from birth. The bathroom is a sacred place. Even public restroom areas compete to have pristine bathrooms. Why? Because people flock and do their shopping where there are clean bathrooms.

A clean toilet means there is respect for others. Bathroom etiquette should be taught along with all the other protocols and onboarding. Here are some tips for improving the culture of your restroom facilities:

  • Start on day one with the protocols and rules of the bathroom. Even though it seems childish, spend time teaching the expectations of how to use the facilities: how to clean after yourself, where toilet paper goes and where paper towels go, etc. Even explain how to wash hands.
  • Teach to leave things better than they are found. In order for this to work, everything must have a place. If the soap runs out, where does an employee find another bar? Do you have a place for the trash to go? Is it labeled?
  • Tidiness is part of cleanliness. Is your bathroom area also a storage area, a dumping spot for extra products? This encourages disorder and disrespect. An area that is respected is also valued and maintained tidy. Keep your bathrooms free from disorder.
  • Talk about the unspeakable. Don’t let this topic be off limits. We create culture wherever we go. We add value to things we enjoy and like and we disapprove of habits that we feel don’t represent us. Celebrate the cleanliness. Have a competition between facilities or between work shifts. Encourage staff by asking for ideas on how to make the bathrooms their own.
  • Assign and rotate responsibilities. If everyone cleans a part of the bathroom, everyone gets to experience the results of a respected vs disrespected bathroom. Do not leave the bathroom for someone else who doesn’t even use the facilities to come in just to clean up once a week. How terrible for that person.

This article was originally written by Mary Lewis of Cornell University and posted in The Ag Workforce Journal.

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