What The Janitor Can Tell You About Your Culture

29 Aug

An executive in a professional services firm, known and recognized widely as an engaging, productive workplace, was working late at his office. Most folks had gone home for the night, but he stayed to finish an important report.

As he was packing his briefcase to leave he met the man who was contracted to clean the offices in the evening. The executive had met him before, and he stopped for some small talk.

As their conversation was ending, the janitor said: “People must really like working here”.

“What makes you say that”, inquired the executive.

“That’s easy”, said the janitor.  “People who work here take care of things and treat the building and equipment with respect. They pick up after themselves. At other companies where I work stuff is trashed and broken. They don’t care about the place like employees here. It seems to me if you like where you work you care more about how the place looks. You’re more responsible.”

He’s right. There’s plenty of research out there to support this idea, such as more engaged manufacturing facilities having less equipment problems because employees take better care of them, or more engaged retail establishments having less “shrinkage”, which is our politically correct euphemism for employee theft. We talk about this linkage of employee engagement and key business outcomes in chapter one of Re-Engage.

How we treat employees and what we do to develop a culture that engages our associates can ripple, felt by our employees and those with whom we interact beyond our payroll-customers, vendors and even outside contractors like the janitor.

Want to know whether your workplace is engaged? Ask your janitor.

(Photo courtesty of http://www.sxc.hu/photo/743360)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: