The Business Coach with Laura Murphy: “Customers see more than you...”

Question: A recent staff suggestion was about improving the cleanliness of the workplace but we are on an industrial estate and I don’t see what the problem is.” Andrew.

Answer: I’m making a huge assumption that, as an employer, you are fulfilling all your obligations to provide a safe working environment. There are reputable health and safety companies who can advise you if you’re unsure and I’m going to focus on other aspects to this question.

Why is cleanliness seen as a problem? Is it because it’s affecting customers or staff motivation?

You’ve spent time developing your brand to win and keep customers. Is that branding reflected in your workplace? Are there dead plants at the entrance, litter blown about or coffee stained magazines in reception? Step into your customers’ shoes and be hypercritical. Seeing your workplace, would your customer be as impressed by the reality as by the branding?

A national poll regularly asks whether people are proud or ashamed to work for particular companies as low performance can be tied to discrepancies between external branding and internal experience. So step into your employees shoes. Is your brand reflected in their working environment? Is it just about cleanliness?

The quickest turn-around I’ve known was an engineering workshop. Using staff ideas, the greasy, run down unit was repainted, the windows and site regularly cleaned, grease free chrome chairs and glass tables were provided and the workforce wore grey-silver overalls. It reflected their branding, transformed customer perception and invigorated the staff.

So if you still can’t see a problem, take it to your staff. Let them tell you what the problem is, and the solution. Then act on it.


Laura Murphy is the founder of mtc2 ltd, a management consultancy, training and coaching company.  Laura is an organisation development specialist and business coach.  If you have a problem then contact her at

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Names and details have been changed to protect confidentiality.