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Workplace Restroom Condition Indicates Company Values
 

By Roy Maurer  9/13/2013
 
 

Your company’s bathroom facilities may require some extra attention.

Bradley Corp.’s fifth annual Healthy Hand Washing Survey reveals that 93 percent of American workers believe that the condition of a workplace restroom is an indicator of how much a company values its workforce.

Bradley Corp., a manufacturer of commercial hand-washing products, surveyed 1,015 American adults in August 2013 about their hand-washing habits in workplace and public restrooms. Participants in the nationwide poll ranged in age from 18 to 65-plus and were fairly evenly split between men and women.

On the positive side, 60 percent of employees rate their workplace bathrooms as excellent or very good, and just 6 percent say they have a poor or terrible workplace restroom. But 40 percent of employees have experienced restroom troubles including clogged toilets, really bad smells, and empty or jammed towel and soap dispensers.

Last year’s survey found that 66 percent of employees rated their workplace restroom as excellent or very good and 34 percent reported toilet troubles.

Survey respondents equated unclean restrooms at other businesses with poor management, and nearly two-thirds (64 percent) said they would think twice about patronizing the business or never return there.

Restroom Hygiene Important

Another survey insight is the value employees place on restroom hygiene. A mere 8 percent of workers say they frequently see people leave the restroom without washing their hands. That statistic is in stark contrast to the national results, which reveal that 31 percent of Americans frequently see people who skip hand-washing in a public restroom.

The survey highlights interesting disparities between men and women in their hand-washing practices. Nearly three-fourths of women (74 percent) say they “always” wash their hands after using a public restroom, compared with 60 percent of men who “always” do so.

The No. 1 reason women give for not washing is they use hand sanitizer instead. Men cite the lack of soap as their primary reason, followed by an unclean sink or washbasin and then the use of hand sanitizer. Men were almost two-and-a-half times more likely than women to say they didn’t wash up because they didn’t feel the need.

“Men need to get the memo that hand-washing is important no matter what,” said Jon Dommisse, director of global marketing and strategic development for Bradley Corp. “You just can’t argue with the research that says it is the number-one way to prevent illness and stay healthy.”

The survey also found that more Americans are simply rinsing their hands with water, instead of soaping up, after using a public restroom. Seventy percent admit they’ve skipped the important cleansing step.

Hand-Washing Best Practices

The annual cold and flu season is around the corner and, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), washing your hands with soap and water is the best way to prevent infection.

The CDC explains how to properly wash your hands:

  • Wet your hands with running water, and apply soap.
  • Rub your hands together to create a lather, and scrub all areas.
  • Continue rubbing your hands for 15 to 20 seconds.
  • Rinse your hands well under running water.
  • Dry your hands with a paper towel or an air dryer.

If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Alcohol-based hand rubs significantly reduce the number of germs on skin and are fast-acting, according to the CDC. 

Roy Maurer is an online editor/manager for SHRM.

Follow him on Twitter @SHRMRoy.

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