The results of a new national survey revealed that the majority of U.S. workers believe that the state and cleanliness of their workplace restrooms is one indicator of how a company values its employees.
The Healthy Hand Washing Survey 2012, conducted by Bradley Corp., a manufacturer of commercial hand washing products, showed that 83% of Americans believe the condition of restrooms in the workplace indicates to employees just how much their company values them. The survey also found that 66% of employees rate their workplace restroom as excellent or very good.
However, approximately one-third (34%) reported they’ve experienced toilets that were clogged or not flushed, bad smells, and toilet paper or towel dispensers that are empty or jammed.
Survey respondents equated unclean restrooms at other businesses with poor management, and nearly one-third (31%) said they would never frequent the business again.
Hand washing needs to improve
A majority of Americans are not washing their hands long enough, according to the survey. Fifty-seven percent of respondents estimated that they wash their hands for just five to 15 seconds, when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends washing for at least 20 seconds to allow enough time to remove germs.
The survey also found that most Americans (75%) don’t adjust their hand washing habits during flu season.
Employees score well on hand washing in the workplace, however. Only 11% of survey participants said they frequently see people leave the bathroom at work without washing their hands, compared to the national results, where 30% of Americans claimed to frequently see people skip hand washing at public restrooms.
Top reasons for not washing hands
The top three reasons given for not washing hands were:
• Used hand sanitizer instead.
• No soap in restroom.
• No paper towels in restroom.
According to the CDC, while hand sanitizer can be beneficial, washing with soap and water is the best way to reduce germs.
Sixty-two percent of respondents admitted they have simply rinsed their hands with water after using a public restroom, which is an increase since 2011 when 54% admitted to the soap-free rinse.
Bradley has conducted its survey for the past several years, but this is the first time the company has looked into the workplace. The survey queried 1,046 U.S. adults Aug. 1 to 3, 2012, about their hand washing habits. Participants were from around the country, ranged in age from 18 to 65 and older, and were evenly split between men (49%) and women (51%).
Roy Maurer is an online editor/manager for SHRM.
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