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Psst, Your Co-workers Aren't Washing Their Hands in the Restroom

You're washing your hands in the company restroom when a fellow co-worker emerges from a stall. You try to speed up your hand washing process to make room for this co-worker at the sink, but she walks out of the restroom without washing her hands. Ew, now what?

To my coworkers who dont
wash their hands after using
the bathroom...I know what
shoes you are wearing...

A recent Bradley Corporation survey plunges into the nasty truth about employees' poor hand washing habits at work. Of more than 1,000 U.S. adults surveyed, 61% have watched a co-worker leave the company restroom without washing their hands -- a nearly 20% increase over the same survey in 2016!

It All Comes Out In the Wash (Or Not)
Why are so many employees putting their dirty hands in the air like they just don't care? Well, I have three working theories, and here they are:

Theory #1: Employees think it takes too long. Wash their hands? Hey, they're running late to a meeting. There's no time to observe the 20-second washing rule right now. Maybe later.

Theory #2: Employees can't deal with broken equipment. Employees would wash their hands, but the soap dispenser is always empty and the towel dispenser is always jammed. Why bother trying?

Theory #3: Employees think their germs are okay. It's just my germs, and it's a modern sharing economy. It's my co-workers' germs that are the real problem. Management should really look into that.

I'm running with Theory #3 as the main culprit here. Now the question is: should we say something to this co-worker? Hmm. While it makes for a funny YouTube prank video, "hand wash shaming" a co-worker by telling her to go back and wash her hands could be more trouble than it's worth.

However, if you work in certain industries (food service, for example) calling it out could be viewed as a valuable service for the rest of humanity. This is a tough one, because you don't want to come off as a sudsy snitch to management, or get yourself into trouble when you might feel like your own job could go down the drain at any minute. Maybe you can offer this co-worker a dollop of hand sanitizer from your personal collection as you use some yourself? Here, would you like some? You might be surprised how many people will take you up on it.

Employers, Don't Wash Your Hands Of This Problem
Employers can creatively place big bottles of hand sanitizer just outside the restroom, and all around the office. A periodic survey of employees for their feedback on the quality of the restrooms -- and any problems they see in there (hint, hint) -- could flush out some interesting findings.

Employers can also make sure the restroom stays relatively clean, and well-functioning, at all times. Employee hand washing can also be the law in many states, which gives employers added incentive not to wash their hands of this problem.

One last, trendy touch: invest in some wipes for employees' phones. Put them on all the bathroom counters, along with a note that encourages employees to wipe down their phones after they wipe their you-know-whats. Because you just know they're reading their phones on the can.

At the very least, you now know of one co-worker who tends to be a bit loosey-goosey on the hand washing before grabbing a giant handful of potato chips at the break room potluck and then putting a few back into the bowl. Go ahead, try the fudge brownies.


  1. This is SO sad but so true. This is why sickness spreads like wildfire in workplaces (and all other public areas too). I think you're right, employers could help with placing hand sanitizer and other germ fighting supplies around the office. And if the non-washing ones don't utilize it at least it gives those conscious of the problem an extra weapon to ward off their germs.


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