By guest blogger Peter Marotto, M.Ed., Instructor Trainer, ASHI Training Center Coordinator for Security Industry Specialists, Inc.
Search the phrase, “Happy Happy Washy Washy” and you come up with about 1,850,000 results. The top results are from Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) that by all accounts started this unique take on cleanliness in 2008, or thereabouts.
From experience as a passenger it seems the phrase started off relatively small, usually with food service workers standing at entrances to the buffet smiling, holding a squirt bottle of hand sanitizer, and uttering the phrase “Happy, Happy. Washy, Washy” to passengers as the passengers held out their hands to be sanitized prior to the umpteenth meal of the day.
The phrase and practice of making hand sanitizing “an event”, if you will, is in keeping with cruise ship practices of over-the-top hospitality. The popularity of NCL employees who parody popular songs, dance, and become You Tube Stars is a craze, if not without end, then with a shelf life longer than most peoples’ 15 minutes of fame.
Yet, there is another far more serious reason for, “Happy, Happy. Washy, Washy.” Sanitation. Personal Protection. Infection Prevention. And, most important: Conditioning the passenger.
Cruise ships are essentially a floating city. A city with no way off or on for multiple days. With some ships holding close to 5,000 passengers, health and safety are a primary concern; and, if we’re honest, not all passengers have the same level of hygiene. Between some passengers boarding with preexisting illnesses, some with questionable hygiene, and some prone to sea sickness, however remote the chance, this has the potential to be a recipe that can result in communicable disease spread.
So, the “Happy, Happy. Washy, Washy” employees become the fun part of the passenger conditioning. Vacation goers smile, laugh, take videos of the singing and dancing, and most importantly, sanitize their hands regularly.
Conditioned through fun, and we use the automated dispensers placed around the ship and at entrances to fine dining restaurants. Conditioned through fun, and we willingly hold out our hands for sanitizer at security check points as we re-board the ship after shore excursions. Conditioned through fun, and we maintain awareness of our cleanliness, our potential to spread germs, and how we can quell the spread.
Workplaces are no different. We can condition employees and visitors through signage during flu season, and by keeping hand sanitizer and tissue available at the front desk. Little reminders, even without a catch phrase song and dance, can go a long way to preventing the spread of germs. So, “Happy, Happy. Washy, Washy.”