How Bathrooms Can Hurt Employers

How Bathrooms Can Hurt Employees


Lynne: David have you ever thought about how much you can learn about a company’s safety program and their likelihood of having a workers compensation injury by their employee bathrooms?

David: In one word, “no”…never,  not a single time, but please,  please tell me why.

Lynne: So, this is something that’s been a really interesting. Over the last few weeks I’ve been kind of putting this together but I found that companies that have a real problem with injuries tend, it’s not always the case, but tend, to have really shoddy bathrooms.

David: You’re drawing a direct link between their bathrooms and the success of their safety programs.

Lynne: Well I don’t think it’s a direct line, is kind of a crooked, dotted line but honestly. And it happened,  I had a client who went into a company to help them with workers comp injuries and he had an opportunity to go into the employee bathroom and it was horrible. He came out and said “you know the first thing we’re going to do here is rip out your bathrooms and put brand new bathrooms in for your people… because, how in the heck can you talk to people about how much you value them and make them use those bathrooms?

David: I understand. So the bathroom was one example of the lack of value perceived by the employees more than likely, by that employer, in relation to them. How much can you really care about me? How much can you value me, if you don’t care enough to actually provide me with a decent restroom facility?

Lynne: So I start going around looking at companies and  using that as a little litmus test. I walk into an employee bathroom and I go “huh?” that’s really interesting… this bathroom is great or this bathroom is not…and you start to back it up and start to ask what this about. And where I feel like it’s really coming up is in exaggerated workers comp claims.  So somebody has hurt their finger and now they want to be out for two weeks. Then you start looking and there is a disconnect, a disconnect between how the company is talking about their culture and how they are with employees, and the actual experience that the employees are having.

David: So we know as an industry that if someone has an employee who wants to become well and working that we’re going to have shorter claim durations and less costly claims.  I think what you’re saying is that if the employee feels that they are not valued, if they’re not happy to come to work and whether it’s through their job function or perhaps the facilities provided to them, the likelihood is that their claim duration is going to be longer.  They’re not going to be excited to come back, they’ll probably embellish, perhaps, and stay out of work longer. It’s going to drive up our claim costs, going to increase the length of our claims.

Lynne: Right, but at the same time when you talk to the employers and this is the interesting part, the employers, in some ways, that have these horrific bathrooms don’t connect, at all. They say either our employees are nine to fivers, they don’t care. They’re going to do what they want to do or, this is not about them, this is about taking care of our customers. So you are walking and going “Whoa, whoa, time-out here! the message you’re sending to the people that you want to represent you is completely the opposite of the message that you want to be sending to your customers”

David: Well bathrooms are certainly a unique insight into company culture and company safety but I  absolutely follow the point. If you want your employees to be more than nine to five hours, if you want them to represent you culturally and represent your brand, you do in turn have to provide them with a reason to feel that way part of which would be the facilities that they’re provided.

Lynne: Yes, it’s sort of like they say, when you go to a restaurant and you want to know how clean the kitchen is by going into the restroom. Now I’m not fixated on restrooms. It might sound like I am, but I’m not… it’s just an interesting unexpected correlation for me.