Do you need to re-think your office toilet situation?

Chloe Hava


written on September 7, 2017

If you didn’t already know, new research says bathroom facilities matter to your employees.

While bathrooms and toilet amenities are generally considered to be OH&S areas of concern, should HR be paying greater attention? Considering the impact inadequate facilities can have on productivity and employee engagement, perhaps the answer is yes. 

Research says toilets mean a lot to employees

While there is little research in Australia, in the US The Bradley Corporation reports that 89 per cent of Americans equate the quality of their toilet facilities with the regards they hold for their organisation.

Over in the UK, another recent study conducted by the Association of Plumbing and Heating Contractors found that 16.5 per cent of employees are not satisfied at work due to the office toilets not being up to scratch. This included issues such as smell, decor, tiling, leaking taps and cleanliness.

The number of bathrooms available in an organisation is also a significant factor. Research from the UN organised “World Toilet Day” states that lack of adequate facilities can lead to, “poor health, absenteeism, attrition, reduced concentration, exhaustion, and decreased productivity”.

“If access is restricted, people will hold back the urge to go, and even avoid food and drink to  minimise how many times they might need to visit the toilet.”

The bare minimum

According to SafeWork Australia, a workplace needs to provide one separate toilet per 20 males and one for every15 females. A unisex toilet is acceptable for workplaces with 10 or less employees. In terms of design, toilets should have appropriate lighting and ventilation, be positioned to ensure privacy with airlock and soundproof features, and allow for emergency access. They should also be signposted and have hinged doors that lock from the inside.

There should be sufficient amounts of toilet paper, soap as well as rubbish and sanitary bins.

What makes a good office toilet?

While the above description is enough to meet legal requirements, what kind of toilet facilities are coveted by employees?

If you don’t have the space or bandwidth to add an extra toilet or two, consider an upgrade. The Bradley Corporation study found that employees wanted more more touchless fixtures such as automatic flushes, faucets, air fresheners and hand dryers.

Other things to think about are the presence of full-length mirrors, shelving and coat hooks, and whether the toilet and hand towel dispensers are stocked regularly or get jammed frequently.

The gold standard

Want to see a really good toilet? Check out the amenities at Brisbane airport. The bathrooms include feature wall photography of the Daintree Rainforest and Bondi Beach, “state of the art” urinals and giant microwaves to heat up milk in the baby change rooms. There’s even a rating system where toilet-goers can show their satisfaction with their experience using touchscreens.

One can only dream.

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