Messy Employees in the Workplace – Part I

Aug 6, 2019
by Julie East

Messy employees, especially in the industrial field, can have difficulty meeting performance expectations, and can also negatively impact workplace safety.  Disorganized workers often find it difficult to maintain a clean workplace not because they are lazy, but simply because they don’t have adequate organizational skills. As a supervisor, it may be necessary for you to remind the employee often. In so doing, you’ll have a neater employee and will reduce the risk of injuries from an unsafe work area.  Below are a few tips to help you encourage the employee to keep a tidy and safe work area.

OBSERVE.  Inspect your employees’ habits regularly to see if they negatively affect work performance, co-workers’ performance or safety standards.  Some industrial workers perform the same tasks in a work area littered with tools, papers, parts, and waste, while others operate in a work area that’s perfectly organized.  If the messy employee, co-workers or safety issues are not affected, then addressing the issue may not be needed.

ADDRESSING THE ISSUE.  If the area is too cluttered and the employee must be addressed, do so while the employee is at his or her work station. To avoid embarrassment, address their behavior after the workday ends or when co-workers are away. While you can call the employee into your office, talking to the employee about their messy area is best done with visual cues.

  • Point out how the employee can clean up the work area.  Give suggestions to utilize the space in the work area.  If space is provided, point out areas to organize folders and papers.
  • Highlight items in the area that must be cleaned immediately. For example, sanitation hazards, such as opened food, can cause ants and other insects to invade the workplace. Never allow those types of items to sit out.
  • If safety is an issue, tell the employee that the work area is disorganized and may be a safety hazard. Instruct them to keep tools off the floor and out of walk ways, and maintain a clutter-free work space to avoid slips and falls. Explain that disorganization makes it difficult to concentrate and that a clean area will not only improve effectiveness at work, but reduce the risk of injuries.
  • Disorganized employees are sometimes hoarders, as well, collecting tools, equipment and resources that aren’t needed for the immediate project.  If other employees are constantly on the hunt for missing tools, it can not only affect production, but affect employee morale. Remind the employee of any policies regarding the use and return of equipment.

Disorganized people may need frequent reminders about workplace clutter.  If the behavior continues, you may need to discipline the employee for failing to keep the area free of safety hazards. If you’re uncomfortable singling out an employee for his/her inadequate workplace housekeeping, create a company policy to outline maintenance issues. Require employees to maintain tidy, clean work surfaces; regularly dispose of garbage, remove food and beverages at the end of the work day; and return tools to their proper storage.

About Lofton: Founded in 1979, Lofton Services offers clients the best of all worlds. We provide the responsive, personal service and flexibility of a small local firm while having the technology, resources, and infrastructure to deliver the benefits of the biggest players in our industry. Lofton can deliver the right people, with the right skills, right when you need them. Contact us today.