How Bad Restroom Hygiene Impacts Employee Retention

January 6, 2020 enviropitt

Dirty company restrooms are among the most common facility complaints and they silently but boldly scream of neglect and disinterest in employee well-being and satisfaction. This article explores this phenomenon and provides an overview of how improving your company’s restroom hygiene practices can increase your employee retention and loyalty.

The Importance Of Pleasant Washroom Experiences

Sanitary washroom hygiene is an important aspect of creating a healthy and productive work environment. Bathrooms are the busiest areas in any company, and they require tender attention and constant care by professionals such as our teams at Enviro-Master Pittsburgh, much in the same fashion as an infant, who is totally dependent on its caretakers.

Some Important Statistics

According to research conducted by Kimberly Clark, the average American worker uses the company restroom 3 to 4 times per day. This study also indicated that 71% of office workers saw the restroom as a reflection of the management. The Bradley Corporation found that for 83% of workers, the condition of their workplace restrooms was an indicator of how a company values its employees.

A 2016 survey of 1,206 full-time workers conducted by the International Interior Design Association indicated a significant link between office design and employee retention. Forty seven percent of those who were satisfied with their workplace said they hoped to remain at least another year, while among the discontented group only 17% wished tor remain in the company.

According to a 2017 Gallup report on the state of the American workplace, attracting qualified job applicants to any business requires the establishment of a positive work environment. This same study revealed that the loss of employees cost the United States between $450 billion to $550 billion annually. There is a growing labor shortage within the U.S. manufacturing industry and some studies suggest that some 4.6 million manufacturing jobs will need to be filled between now and 2028. Other research indicates that 56 percent of blue-collar workers are also seeking new employment. 

The Nature of Restroom Cleanliness

Uncleanliness is a relative concept, as tolerances differ from person to person. However, some truths are self-evident, as our founding fathers used to say. All of the parts that comprise a company bathroom must function properly and will require outside professional help to maintain from professional hygiene experts.

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Some important questions concern whether or not the toilets are clean and flushing, and if the faucets turn on and off. Floors must always be dry because wet ones have often been the cause of slip and fall lawsuits. All surfaces must be disinfected including soap dispensers, counters, sinks, faucets, urinals, and toilets. All trash receptacles should be regularly emptied. 

A steady flow of supplies is also vital to proper bathroom maintenance. These include: toilet paper; hand towels and soap. Regularly refilled soap, tissue, towel and odor-control dispensers ensure that everything is in proper working order.

Company Morale and The Restroom

A mediocre company restroom often leads to lackluster performance. Our environment sends messages that are unconsciously interpreted, and this one screams that ‘okay’ is acceptable. Under such a cloud, it is inevitable that the best employees will depart for other pastures and that the ones remaining may just be too lazy to look for other venues and remain out of lack of initiative and/or indifference. Both of these factors are detrimental to business.

Although poorly maintained washrooms may not be named directly as reasons for leaving a job, they do matter and they do affect a company’s bottom line. The Gallup Organization estimates that 68% of U.S. workers are unengaged or actively disengaged, and they cost the American economy roughly $500 billion dollars per year in lost productivity.

In today’s world, the workplace is so much more than just a one dimensional space occupied for so many hours in any given day. Workers are human beings and not automatons, and even though this is an obvious fact, it is one that is often ignored as a result of SEO-imposed distance from fundamental company operations. 

But things are changing and work environments are now designed to promote visual, verbal, and nonverbal social encounters between co-workers. This has brought about amenities such as a company food pantry, where eating becomes a social focal point for employee interaction and bonding.

Despite positive momentum in sensitivity towards employee-focused needs, much less attention has been paid to the maintenance of the company restroom. Going to the bathroom is as essential to human life as eating foods, and yet the design and management of company bathrooms is still not prioritized as much as it should be. 

Many executives need to be more mindful of their wide-ranging responsibilities, many of which extend far beyond the boardroom. Restroom maintenance plays a crucial, behind-the-scenes role in forging a professional relationship between managers, employees, and clients.

Elaine Fitzgerald, spokeswoman for the MDM Group, a Fort Lauderdale special events consultant that presents major sports and special events, had this to say about the connection between employee retention, company morale and restroom: 

“The company restroom is a small indication of a bigger picture of how an employer treats employees. It sets an example. In and of itself, it might not directly retain employees, but doing good things is bound to improve morale.”

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Designing The Restroom Experience

A restroom must be designed from the perspective of the user, as according to one study, when a bathroom features materials that wear well and is thoughtfully designed, it is regarded more positively in the eye of the user.

Furthermore, haphazard designs and neglected spaces are clear indications of an organization that has no regard for its clientele and employees. One rule of thumb that can always be counted on is the fact that the more neglected a company bathroom, the more damaging the consequences. 

Although this is true in the case of any commercial enterprise, the restaurant industry in particular is very vulnerable in this regard, as customers often judge their entire dining experiences by the state of the bathroom.

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Improving Multi-Sensory Aspects

There are many elements that comprise an employee’s assessment of a company restroom experience. Color is an important visual cue, and many psychologists believe that the use of white particularly, suggests cleanliness which is vital to positive user perception. 

This can be a double-edged sword however, as dirt is easily visible in lightly colored bathrooms. Selected materials should be less likely to show dirt and easy to clean as well. Besides relying on what can be seen, user perceptions can also be negatively affected by by smell.

Psychologically, utilitarian and institutional aesthetics are symbolic of the working life, but not as desirable as a pleasant multi-sensory experience that “feels like home.” Anonymity is also an important factor that accentuates the need to design company bathrooms that are well-ventilated. 

In addition to bad odors, no one wants to hear others using the bathroom, since a sense of privacy is vital to personal comfort. According to the American Restroom Association, background music in a restroom increases the perception of privacy. Floor-to-ceiling stall partitions and doors also help users forget, if even momentarily, that they are not really alone.

According to Gerry Crispin, principal of MMC Group, an international staffing consultant: “A company restroom is symbolic of other things. There are other kinds of symbols that tell you whether management is paying attention. When you walk down the corridor in an office or plant and see safety violations, would you choose to work in an office environment like that?… Even in a developing country, the facilities may be antiquated, but they can still be clean. There are enormous implications relative to health, and companies will not be very successful if they don’t pay attention to those kinds of issues.”

Crispin also believes that a messy lavatory says as much about the people who use it as it does about management. For those in upper echelon positions who ignore complaints about unsanitary conditions when confronted with them, he refers to them as “people who have not learned to take responsibility for their own lives, let alone their careers. The little things speak volumes relative to the management of our organizations as well as about the people who choose to be there.”

5 Tips To Maintain Washroom Maintenance

As manufacturers design new facilities or upgrade current ones, bearing in mind the  following steps can help improve employee recruitment and turnover, as they communicate a commitment both to employee health and wellbeing and to the environment.

1) Improve Washroom Hygiene

Washroom hygiene is a complex topic best left to the professionals at Enviro-Master Pittsburgh because it concerns so many unanticipated factors. For example, how many people know that a woman’s handbag carries up to 10,000 bacteria per square inch and 30% have fecal bacteria? 

Communicable diseases carried by the super bugs of the past have made a come-back, causing an increase in health care costs for employees. Motion sensor light switches, touchless fixtures and soap and paper towel dispensers are very effective in preventing the spread of pathogens. According to Infection Control Today, some 80 percent of all infectious diseases are transmitted by touch.

2) Always Keep Restroom Well-Stocked

Smart technology works behind the scenes of a company bathroom to ensure a consistent supply of soap, tissue and towels by providing a company cleaning staff with the tools to prevent an outage before it occurs. Today’s tissue systems make it virtually impossible to run out of supplies. Such arrangements combine a high-capacity dispenser that holds up to four long-lasting tissue rolls containing up to 3,000 sheets each.

Pittsburgh Restroom Paper Product Refills

Frantic quests for hand wipes or sanitizers can also be a thing of the past when a company employs towel dispenser systems that contain dual roll auto-switch technology. This permits 100% usage of each roll by using the smallest roll first before switching to the back up. This automatically guarantees that a towel will always be on hand whenever it is needed.

3) Effectively Deal With Malodors

No matter how modern or beautiful the trappings or how clean everything may look, any company bathroom without at least one supplementary air-freshener to control unpleasant odors is incomplete. The amount of air-freshening coverage will vary, as a small boutique, for example, would not require the same amount as an airport or convention center. Air-freshener diffuser systems are integral to any type of sanitary hygiene service program, and we work closely with companies to ascertain how much is needed to properly suit the commercial space.

Pittsburgh Commercial Restroom Wall Mounted Air Freshener

The proper use of air-fresheners is integral to a positive user experience, as they can be both over and under applied. One easy approach that is employed by Enviro-Master is to provide a 360-degree odor control system with complementary fragrances. The installation of automated motion-activated in-stall freshener dispensers effectively neutralize odors that surround the stalls and disperses a subtle fragrance. 

At the same time, installing low-splash deodorizer urinal screens will contain urine and prevent it from dripping on the floor. Odor-control is further assured by adding an air-freshener dispenser that covers the entire bathroom and dispenses a pleasant fragrance upon both entry and exit.

4) Promote Sustainable Washroom Solutions

A 2014 study conducted by Statista found that the majority of consumers in every age group from age 15 up admitted that they felt guilty when doing something that was detrimental for the environment. Implementing sustainable practices within the company restroom both enriches user experiences and perceptions about self-worth. 

Visual cues, like automatic paper towel dispensers, brown paper towels and coreless toilet tissue rolls, provide unspoken assurances that a company is providing eco-friendly options.

5) Keep Fixture And Other Elements Clean

Touchless fixtures are about much more than hygiene and they represent the wave of the future for company restrooms. Good design is essential to attracting and retaining talent from the younger members of the work force. Smart technology appeals to millennials, because it complements their lifestyles of being surrounded by the “internet of things.” High-tech restroom systems provide an efficient avenue for helping facility managers keep restrooms clean and well stocked.

Smart technology serves as a silent watchdog that never sleeps or fails to notice those things that might otherwise be overlooked. Leaky faucets and faulty flush valves are addressed before the problems arise, since alarms alert a cleaning staff to potential issues. With its capabilities to consistently track and monitor an entire restroom environment, smart technology can simplify and support a regular maintenance and cleaning schedule.

Enviro-Master and Restroom Hygiene

Founded in 1983, our mission is and always has been: Building a healthier world, one restroom at a time. As a world leader in hygiene services for public restrooms we boast a clientele that extends across the nation, and our enduring success has evolved from our superior services that are both cost-effective and known to improve company image.

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Our emphasis is always going that extra mile when necessary to achieve effective restroom cleaning. Our bacteria and odor-prevention strategies far exceed the knowledge and tools of the average janitorial staff, and our low cost soaps, paper and cleaning products often offset the price of cleaning services.

Complete Facility Care For Pittsburgh Businesses

Enviro-Master as well as pest-management strategies and environmental odor and air freshening solutions provided by Air Scent International are now available to commercial enterprises throughout Pittsburgh, Western Pennsylvania and Easter Ohio under the umbrella of one bundled services program known as Pestco Professional Services Complete Facility Care Program. This vast array of services is the most affordable and efficient collection of business hygiene, air freshening and pest- control related services found anywhere in the industry.

Every company manager should examine their restroom and think about what it communicates to employees and clients. Given that it costs 20% of an annual salary to replace a mid-level employee, investing in a hygienic, well-stocked and serene workplace restroom is money well spent.


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In Conclusion

Showing your employees that you care by providing a more positive restroom experience is one important aspect to creating the kind of workplace that will positively impact recruitment, retention and that all-important bottom line.

Final thought on bathrooms: Always go to the bathroom when you have a chance. ~ King George V