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Five Reasons to Celebrate the Cleaning Lady

MsDora, former teacher and Christian counselor, advocates for life with maximum productivity and minimal amount of stress in the workplace.

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

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 reasons to celebrate her and offer six suggestions on how to do it. Feel free to apply the ideas for recognition to a male worker as well.

(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 celebrating the cleaning lady is asking her name, so that you can say it when you address her or refer to her. She deserves an identity.

(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. Listen to her. She might inspire you with her story, and soon you might be celebrating a good friendship.

Part time cleaners may also be part time students.

Part time cleaners may also be part time students.

(3) Her Knowledge

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 secrets she keeps.

(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?

The work of the cleaning lady enhances the appearance of your office, and 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.

Tips for Celebrating 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 Suggested Method

(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

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 Weithers

Comments

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on April 22, 2020:

Thanks, again. Marcy. I appreciate you!

Marcy Bialeschki from Cerro Gordo, IL on April 22, 2020:

Yes, yes, I do! Your article was spot-on!!

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on April 22, 2020:

Thanks, Marcy. You probably have much respect for the cleaning lady or people in similar occupations, and we all should!

Marcy Bialeschki from Cerro Gordo, IL on April 21, 2020:

I love this so much!!!

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on January 21, 2020:

Hillary, thanks for your comment. Diligent cleaners deserve the attention and the honor.

Hillary Burton from UK on January 21, 2020:

Super call to arms for diligent cleaners everywhere.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on January 20, 2020:

Adebayo, I'm excited too that you like the article. Wishing that your business gains much respect and much profit. Do a good job!

Adebayo Akinola from Lagos on January 20, 2020:

Wow! this is so exciting to read. Janitorial service is my side business, and just so exciting to read this. Every sentence is so calm and commendable. You just outlined the dignity of labour. Thank you

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on May 16, 2014:

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

manatita44 from london on May 16, 2014:

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.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on April 22, 2014:

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

Audrey Howitt from California on April 22, 2014:

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

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on April 22, 2014:

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

ologsinquito from USA on April 22, 2014:

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.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on March 20, 2014:

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

Hillary Burton from UK on March 20, 2014:

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.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on March 05, 2014:

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

Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on March 04, 2014:

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

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on March 03, 2014:

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

Marvin Parke from Jamaica on March 03, 2014:

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.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on March 02, 2014:

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

Ronald E Franklin from Mechanicsburg, PA on March 02, 2014:

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.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on March 02, 2014:

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

Christy Birmingham from British Columbia, Canada on March 02, 2014:

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!

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on February 28, 2014:

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

Deborah Neyens from Iowa on February 28, 2014:

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.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on February 28, 2014:

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

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on February 28, 2014:

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

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on February 28, 2014:

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

FlourishAnyway from USA on February 28, 2014:

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.

Mona Sabalones Gonzalez from Philippines on February 28, 2014:

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.

Frank Atanacio from Shelton on February 28, 2014:

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

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on February 27, 2014:

Lambservant, thank you!!! I appreciate you.

Lori Colbo from United States on February 27, 2014:

Lovely!!!

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on February 27, 2014:

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

Faith Reaper from southern USA on February 27, 2014:

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

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on February 27, 2014:

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

sheilamyers on February 27, 2014:

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.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on February 27, 2014:

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.

Pat Materna from Memphis, Tennessee, USA on February 27, 2014:

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!

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on February 27, 2014:

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

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on February 27, 2014:

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

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on February 27, 2014:

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!

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on February 27, 2014:

Thank you, Word. You are very kind.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on February 27, 2014:

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

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on February 27, 2014:

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.

Al Wordlaw from Chicago on February 27, 2014:

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.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on February 27, 2014:

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

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on February 27, 2014:

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

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on February 27, 2014:

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

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on February 27, 2014:

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

mathira from chennai on February 27, 2014:

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.

John Hansen from Queensland Australia on February 27, 2014:

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.

Jackie Lynnley from the beautiful south on February 27, 2014:

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. ^+

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