Recognition for the Cleaning Lady at the Office

Nobody, except the personnel officer, is obligated to know her name. Usually, she comes into your work space before you arrive or after you leave. If she is there during work hours, her “Wet Floor” sign gets more recognition than she does. With a little effort, you can help change that.

The Cleaning Lady

By Ranveig
By Ranveig | Source

She falls into the category of janitors and building cleaners as described by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics1 which provides the following information:

  • The median hourly pay in 2012 was $10.73 (annual $22,320).
  • Janitors and building cleaners are required to keep the building clean, orderly and in good condition.
  • “The work can be physically demanding and sometimes dirty and unpleasant.”

Here we will briefly discuss five characteristics which make her important and offer six suggestions for celebrating her. Feel free to apply the ideas for recognition to a male worker.


(1) Her Human Worth

The personal worth of the cleaning lady is based on the fact that she is a human being. Like everyone else, she was born for a purpose, and with innate ability to succeed at it. She has the capacity to love and be loved, and she thrives on appreciation.

She is currently your cleaning lady, but you have no idea what assignments either of you will have in the future. Treating her with the respect she deserves tells her that you are respectful; and encourages her to give you the respect—and the service—you deserve. Other workers can learn from you that the Golden Rule applies in their interaction with her.

The first step in recognition of the cleaning lady is asking her name, so that you can say it when you address her or refer to her.


(2) Her Story

At a certain office, most workers gave no recognition to the cleaning lady; that is, until the day she told her story. While cleaning during the daytime, she had been taking classes in the evening to become a dental assistant. She graduated, found placement and had a starting date for her new job. Suddenly, she became more than a cleaning lady and was worth befriending.

Many other cleaning ladies have similar stories. Some worked at better-paying jobs, got laid off and found financial refuge in cleaning because it offered training on the job. Some have plans to move on.

Your cleaning lady has a story about how and why she is currently on that job. Show a little interest in her; she might inspire you with her story.

Some are part time cleaners and part time students

Photo by Peter Griffin
Photo by Peter Griffin | Source

(3) Her Knowldege

Some people are naïve enough to evaluate the cleaning lady’s intelligence by what she does with a broom and a mop. It does not occur to them that she might understand their work jargon, so they talk openly in her presence. You would be surprised to hear how much the cleaning lady knows about business at the office.

In addition to the conversations, she has access to documents left carelessly lying around. She also knows some of the after office-hours activities which happen after most people leave.

Smart workers respect the cleaning lady for the knowledge she keeps secret.


(4) Her Contribution

What would be your reaction if sweeping, mopping, emptying the trash were to be added to your job description? How often would you want to clean the bathroom? And would you like the responsibility of keeping the refrigerator clean?

Not only does the cleaning lady enhance the appearance of your office, her cleaning helps to control the spread of germs. If your office is in a hospital or hotel, the cleaning lady becomes even more significant.

To help promote health awareness, as well as the importance of the cleaner’s job, the International Sanitary Supply Association (ISSA)2 has created an entertaining, educational mobile game for the cleaning industry. The game Angry Janitors3 features three stages--The School, The Office and The Hospital--each with ten levels. King Dirt, King Germ and their filthy associates invade the three facilities making people sick. Players gain points by helping the janitors Sweepy, Squirt and Speedster eliminate dirt and germs.


(5) Her Reflection of You

Very often, the way the cleaning lady relates to you is a direct reflection of your interaction with her. If she walks past you in the hallway without even looking at you, try to remember what you do when you walk past her.

Usually she is not hired by your company, but by an outside contracting company. For her, it is like coming onto your property, which makes you the more powerful of you two. She waits for you to set the pace for your relationship, if there is going to be one.

She reflects your attitude—friendly and courteous, or aloof and self-absorbed. She is the mirror for your behavior toward people who are not your peers. For the most part, you decide what you see in her. With a little effort, you can help make her life and work more meaningful, and in the process, add to your own joy.


Six Ideas on Recognition for the Cleaning Lady

Situations with cleaning ladies vary. Some of them work full time and are always visible; some work on weekends and are never seen. Some buildings are small and have the same cleaner all the time; some are huge and the cleaning ladies are rotated around the offices. However, if you really want to, you will find a way to reach your cleaning lady. Choose the suggestion which is applicable for you.

Idea
Explanation
(i) Commend her.
Take a minute to let her know how pleased you are with her work.
(ii) Leave her a note.
Leave the envelope where she will find it. Thank or inspsire her with a quote.
(iii) Remember her special day.
Have employees sign a card for her birthday or job anniversary.
(iv) Save her some coupons.
For example, a discount coupon for a massage would be great.
(v) Put her in the picture.
Include her in a photograph with the employees. Give her a personal copy.
(vi) Plan a lunch in her honor.
Invite her to lunch on her special day or just because she's special!

Cheers to the Cleaning Lady!

We recognize her significance and we cherish her. Life at the office is more pleasant because of her.


References (Internet)

1. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Janitors and Building Cleaners (visited February 26, 2014).

2. IEHA News, ISSA Introduces Mobile Game for Cleaning Industry (visited February 26, 2014).

3. Zane, Katy: Apps Gone Free, Quirky App Of The Day: Angry Janitors Keep The Germs Away, November 24th, 2013.

© 2014 Dora Isaac Weithers

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46 comments

Jackie Lynnley profile image

Jackie Lynnley 2 years ago from The Beautiful South

Haha, you never know; that cleaning lady may be your future boss! Very inspiring story and almost rags to riches. I really admire people holding jobs like this and going on with their education and it is not easy task. Great eye opener MsDora. ^+


Jodah profile image

Jodah 2 years ago from Queensland Australia

Good hub in recognition of the hard working cleaning lady MsDora. They deserve respect and you need to be able to trust them. An office wouldn't be a very nice place to work without them. My wife worked as a cleaning lady for awhile before getting her University degree.


mathira profile image

mathira 2 years ago from chennai

MsDora, we never understand that everyone contributes their worth to make our life comfortable. Appreciating them is the best way to show that we acknowledge their worth. Excellent perception of hitherto ignored aspect.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 2 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Jackie, that's another good point. What they're doing isn't easy. Thank you.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 2 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Jodah, congratulate your wife for me, please. Thank you for sharing that. There are really good people who do this job.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 2 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Mathi, I appreciate your input. You make a good point; it is our lives that they are making comfortable. Thank you.


DDE profile image

DDE 2 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

Every individual serves their purpose in the working field and all should be treated with respect.


word55 profile image

word55 2 years ago from Chicago

Hi MsDora, recognizing the cleaning people is very important. Hub very well written. I commend you for such worthy recognition. I'm sure that all cleaning people would love what you had to say here. Thank you for sharing.


Ericdierker profile image

Ericdierker 2 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

Well I worked my way through undergraduate work as a Junior High School Janitor. So not only did I love the reflection, I will brush off my dusty Spanglish and make sure I speak with Maria and Maintenance Men tomorrow.

This article is the essence of loving all our neighbors.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 2 years ago from The Caribbean Author

DDE, I couldn't have said it better. Thank you.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 2 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Thank you, Word. You are very kind.


billybuc profile image

billybuc 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

What a unique topic this is, and it has a message for everyone. I love this, Dora! A real original this is and so beautifully told. Well done!


MsDora profile image

MsDora 2 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Eric, I'm just following your lead. Nobody promotes love more than you do. Thank you


MsDora profile image

MsDora 2 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Bill, thanks for your encouragement. It means much to me.


PaisleeGal profile image

PaisleeGal 2 years ago from Memphis, Tennessee, USA

Nice article Dora.. I've been in that place before many years ago when I had a cleaning service. I work in an office now with about 200 other folks. Not sure when the cleaning staff do their thing but things are generally clean when I arrive every day. Unfortunately, things have a way of disappearing also. Almost all my co-workers have experienced things coming up missing. Everything from money, candies, to other personal things like mirrors and other assorted small things and very often lunch things come up missing. That makes one take on an uncaring, suspicious attitude toward the cleaning folks. Too bad!


MsDora profile image

MsDora 2 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Pat, that's terrible. However, since it is best for us to practice kindness anyway, I would still be kind for the sake of the one who deserves it. We'll have to talk to the thieves in another article, but don't let them bring out the worst in you; and be careful with your possessions. I appreciate your input. Thank you.


sheilamyers 2 years ago

As billy said, this is a unique hub. I would've never thought to write about the topic and I'm glad you did. No matter where I've worked, I've always enjoyed chatting with the people who clean the building. Even though the companies I've worked for always contracting with outside janitorial services, I always thought of these people as my co-workers. Hopefully other people will read this hub and do the same.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 2 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Thank you, Sheila. Hope there'll be many others like you who treat everyone with the respect they deserve.


Faith Reaper profile image

Faith Reaper 2 years ago from southern USA

What a lovely hub indeed, MsDora! Yes, we should speak to and recognize all of the hard work our cleaning men or women do. In our building, we have mostly men, as they come in when I am still there in the evenings, as I am there 30 minutes later than everyone else. Sometimes there is a language barrier, but I always say thank you and smile.

There is one lady who has been cleaning the building since I have work there, and she does her cleaning part during the day, so we do see her more often than those in the evenings. I always ask her how she is doing as she has had two knee surgeries and I tell her I will pray for her and I do.

Great hub and I hope all read take your insight to heart.

Up and more and sharing.

Blessings,

Faith Reaper


MsDora profile image

MsDora 2 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Faith, thank you for sharing. You are a good example. Hope others around you follow your lead.


lambservant profile image

lambservant 2 years ago from Pacific Northwest

Lovely!!!


MsDora profile image

MsDora 2 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Lambservant, thank you!!! I appreciate you.


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 2 years ago from Shelton

wow MsDora you a put a name to that proverbial face of a cleaning person.. the walk of life they make seem ghostly.. well until now.. thank you for wakening us up to appreciate our surroundings in the work place


grand old lady profile image

grand old lady 2 years ago from Philippines

I didn't expect this article to be as interesting and reflective as it turned out to be. I was tickled at the thought that the cleaning lady knows all the office gossip and she knows what happens after office hours. Your article reminded me of the American Idol competitor in a past season who was a cleaning lady, and of a story by Truman Capote where he wrote about a cleaning lady. The Capote story was very beautiful. Your peace adds the touch of reality to the Capote short story and makes it so complete.


FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

Over the years I have had office cleaning ladies and sometimes men who ranged from a mildly mentally disabled lady who provided me very helpful information about inappropriate activities going on elsewhere in the office (me being in HR and the person to fix it) to a college educated woman who had been downsized elsewhere. I always knew their first names and chatted briefly about kids ... and took note of coworkers and execs who ignored them.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 2 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Frank, thank you for your comment. Yes, there's so much and so many to appreciate.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 2 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Mona, thank you for letting me know that the article turned out pleasing to you. I appreciate that.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 2 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Flourish, hope your other workers learned from you. Respect makes the workplace more productive.


DeborahNeyens profile image

DeborahNeyens 2 years ago from Iowa

This is such an awesome hub, MsDora! It's a good reminder of all those people who work hard and mostly invisibly. Not just the cleaning ladies, but people like the toll booth workers, the bus drivers, and all others whose presence we barely notice as we go about our days. I'm sure some small acknowledgment of their existence - a friendly comment, a thank you, or even just a smile - can make a big difference for them.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 2 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Deborah, you're so right. All those "mostly invisible" people you mentioned deserve some recognition. Thank you for your valuable input.


ChristyWrites profile image

ChristyWrites 2 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

Wonderful! The job here is often overlooked yet it is because of the cleaning lady at the office that many workers are able to enjoy a clutter-free, germ-free work environment. Well done!


MsDora profile image

MsDora 2 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Thank you, Christy. From now on, we'll give her the recognition she deserves.


RonElFran profile image

RonElFran 2 years ago from Mechanicsburg, PA

Great hub, MsDora. For many of us it would be a great step forward to just say "hi" and engage in a few seconds conversation. I can remember times in my corporate life when the only time I paid attention to the cleaning person was to be frustrated that a rest room was closed because they were inside mopping the floor. Thanks for a great reminder of our responsibility to honor rather than ignore these fellow workers.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 2 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Ron, thank you for sharing from your own experience. I like your wording "to honor rather than ignore." Well said!


rasta1 profile image

rasta1 2 years ago from Jamaica

I am remember when I started a new job as a supervisor. The older workers were upset that I was an outsider and refused to show me how the system works and the accounting procedures. It was the cleaning lady that taught me the office procedures. She had learned it by watching the workers every day. We have been friends since for several years.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 2 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Rasta,what an interesting story! That was one smart cleaning lady. Thank you for sharing.


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 2 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

The cleaning lady, or man for that matter, certainly deserve recognition for the job they do. It will surely make them happy.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 2 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Welcome back, Rajan Jolly, and thank you for your comment.


Byonder5 profile image

Byonder5 2 years ago

We have a cleaning MAN, lol. Good hub I always strike up a rapport with cleaners and sometimes become a link with the other workers lol.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 2 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Byonder, your rapport with the cleaning man says positive things about you. Thank you for sharing.


ologsinquito profile image

ologsinquito 2 years ago from USA

This is an excellent and well-written article. I do believe how we treat service workers speaks volumes about our character. Voted up and shared.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 2 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Ologsinquito, thank you for your affirmation. You and I are on the same page.


AudreyHowitt profile image

AudreyHowitt 2 years ago from California

A good reminder to be kind to and respect everyone--that we are all valuable!


MsDora profile image

MsDora 2 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Audrey, you summarized the message beautifully. Thanks for your valuable input.


manatita44 profile image

manatita44 2 years ago from london

Hi Dee,

You have not forgotten the basics. I am very proud of you for this. We are all God's children and sometimes we can learn a great deal from the seemingly most simple.

A very loving and beautiful article; one of great worth.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 2 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Manatita, proud of me? Ahhh! I appreciate that. We are on the same page when it comes to seeing the worth in every one.

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