I believe in natural selection. When the internet when crazy last week because some little known company was only allowing their employees 6 minutes to use the bathroom each day, I didn’t have a strong reaction. I didn’t care because I know, from experience, companies only do this because they are forced into the position, for some reason or another, or they have horrible leadership. Or, sometimes, both.
This might be the case for Water Saver Faucet Company out of Chicago, but quite honestly, I don’t know. Here’s what we know. The owner of the company makes his employees swipe in and out of the bathrooms to monitor usage. Sounds horrific, the internet screamed! How could anyone do this?! Well, he’s doing it, and in a Teamsters union shop (this could be a post on how far the union has fallen!).
We could argue for days about why this is wrong, but no one wants to argue about why this might be right!
Here’s what we don’t know, but a savvy HR Pro would question before coming to conclusions:
1. Why did he feel the need to install such a system to begin with?
2. How much money is the company losing for excessive bathroom use?
3. Did we try other measures, first, before deciding on this measure?
4. Were employees consulted about this change, before making it?
5. Are we actually breaking any laws by doing this?
6. Are we putting ourselves in a unfavorable recruiting stance, by making this change?
We could go on, and on, but our reality is, there might very well be great reasons to monitor the use of your bathroom facilities at your office.
The company claims they lost 120 hours of productivity in May alone to unscheduled bathroom breaks. In a shop where they already get one 10 minute mid-morning break, a lunch break and a 15 minute afternoon break. At which time they can use the restrooms as freely as they would like. The six minutes of bathroom break monitoring is for unscheduled breaks.
This still sounds barbaric for so many of my HR friends. Many of which have never worked in a union shop. I have. I played the union game. I’ve spent time in the bathroom for long periods with nothing to do, but not wanting to build another pallet or haul more material. So I hid out. By the way, I was showed how to do this during my union mandated 3 weeks of supervised training, for a job that took me about 30 minutes to learn. I was showed when to go, where to go, and how much time I could stay without repercussions. I was also showed where I could go to play cards, smoke, sneak outside to my car, etc. It was a ‘great’ training program!
Should someone who physically has to use the restroom ever feel like they can’t or they’ll use their job? Absolutely, not. Should employees who take advantage of ‘using’ the bathroom to get out of work? Yes. But that is so hard to prove! So, what do you do? In this case, leadership decided to limit access. Will it work? Who knows, but it got the point across to the workforce that someone is watching.