BATHROOM MANNERS AND BATHROOM ETIQUETTE
…PERSONAL HYGIENE IN ORGANIZATIONS
BY SURUJRATTAN RAMBACHAN (LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT CONSULTANT)
THIS IS AN ARTICLE I WROTE SEVERAL YEARS AGO FOR MY MANAGEMENT TIPS PROGRAM WHICH USED TO BE AIRED ON AKASH VANI 106.5 FM EVERY DAY FROM 7.30 AM
There is an advertisement currently being aired on the electronic and print media that encourages people to regularly wash their hands, especially after using toilets and bathrooms. This advertisement has caused me to become very conscious of the attitude and behavior of people with respect to washing their hands after using the bathroom. Of course my observations have been limited to the bathrooms for males or as we so often see written on the bathroom doors, “GENTS.” Sadly, my observations have caused me to be engaging in some behaviors that actually distresses me.
For example, having seen on so many occasions persons of varying levels of status use the toilet and proceed to leave the bathroom without going to the sinks to wash their hands, having seen persons using the toilets and urinals and going to the sink but not even using a bit of the liquid soap that is in the dispenser, I now often find myself when I am leaving a bathroom taking with me a napkin which I use to hold the handle of the bathroom door where I exit. The power of that Advertisement has brought about a consciousness and has increased my awareness about the quality of the hygiene in the organization environment where we spend our time. As an aside, in general, advertizing and advertisements which are focused and well worded, and which have direct significance to you at a personal level would always be successful, both in grabbing your attention and depending on how personal the issue or need is, would also cause a change in your behavior and attitude.
Bathrooms in organizations tell a lot about the human side of the enterprise and the value the organization places upon a quality work environment. The bathroom also communicates to your customers things about you that perhaps your best social habits and hospitality cannot convey. Yet, organizations are not paying sufficient attention to bathrooms. Far too often, you enter the bathroom in a place of work and find it smelly, without liquid soap, without paper napkins and many times even without basic toilet paper. In some organizations, the bathroom of the CEO is palatial compared to that which employees and customers must use. Yes, it costs a tidy sum to maintain bathroom facilities, but it is part of your public image and an input into the motivation of your people.
Having said all of this, let me also hasten to say that many employees do not seem to know how to use a bathroom and leave it clean for the next person. This however is a matter of personal values and respect for others. I sometimes wonder whether people in some companies have had any level of toilet training at all! I sometimes wonder whether the way a bathroom facility is used and kept by an employee is not a reflection of how that employee keeps his/her bathroom at home.
I go to many schools where children are lectured to about personal hygiene, but a visit to the toilets would reveal that there is no toilet paper, no toilet seats, no soap. A couple of years ago, in St Lucia, I was visiting schools along with the Permanent Secretary in The Ministry of Education in St Lucia. We arrived at a school and the PS wanted to use a bathroom. The Principal offered the use of his bathroom. The PS politely asked for directions to the bathroom used by the boys. His reason was simple and profound. As far as he was concerned, they the students must have as good a bathroom environment as the staff. If he the PS found it repugnant to use, then in his considered view, the boys in the school were not being offered a quality environment for their learning and education. Don’t you wish that Human Resource mangers and General Managers would apply this philosophy to your place of work?
What are your bathrooms saying about you as a Manager? What are your bathrooms saying about you as employees? What views are being developed about your organization by your customers? Think of bathroom etiquette as an employee and as managers alike and at least wash your hands.
Dr Surujrattan Rambachan is a Leadership Development consultant who is engaged in transforming the experiences of people in organizations thereby releasing energy for productive practices and high performance.
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