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How smart restroom technology can help retain talent in a competitive labor market

Nov. 15, 2022
With janitorial employee turnover rates averaging 200%, intelligent building solutions can increase both worker and occupant satisfaction.

Across the country, organizations are facing labor shortages, with 5.5 million more job openings than available workers, according to the U.S. Labor Department.

Companies often struggle with hiring and retaining reliable janitorial employees. During nonpandemic times, the janitorial industry sees employee turnover rate averaging around 200%—meaning a company is losing and hiring for its entire staff twice a year. Today, combined with the “great resignation” or the “great reshuffle,” building service quit rates are more than double the national average.

A lack of janitorial staff is a challenge for offices, particularly as more employees return to the office and have heightened expectations for building cleanliness and restroom hygiene. According to research by Kimberly-Clark Professional, 89% of workers feel the washroom is one of the most important areas to improve hygiene levels.

Smart restroom technology can help businesses and facility managers retain janitorial staff by improving efficiencies and supporting worker health. Specifically, the solutions can help building owners and managers in several ways.

1. Do more with less.

Many restroom maintenance and cleaning protocols are based on outdated and inefficient prescribed schedules, which do not reflect restroom utilization rates, traffic patterns, conditions, and supply inventory. Smart restroom technology monitors, analyzes, and measures this information to provide real-time utilization data, alert maintenance staff when stock levels are low, and inform optimal cleaning schedules. This helps tasks feel less mundane and more value added for the staff. Many dashboards and apps now offer intuitive interfaces and useful data insights for facility managers, which speeds up training and enables strategic deployment of staff and resources.

2. Improve hygiene and health.

The COVID-19 pandemic has made restroom disinfection a top priority for commercial spaces across the United States, creating an increase in the usage of products such as soap, paper towels, and tissues. Smart restroom technology with real-time alerts helps janitorial staff stay ahead of stocking restrooms supplies and enables facility managers to maintain inventory.

3. Set staff up for success.

When workers—both tenants and cleaning staff—have clear expectations and the tools to help them be successful, attrition is lower. Stocking high-traffic restrooms with supplies can be a full-time job for maintenance crews, taking them away from other important tasks, such as cleaning spills in common areas, like lobbies and cafeterias. Servicing decisions based on assumptions rather than facts can result in wasted time and spending. Smart solutions can diminish the time maintenance staff spend checking dispensers by more than 90% annually.

4. Reduce complaints.

Public restrooms are one of the space that receive the most traffic and the most complaints in any building. Survey data from Kimberly-Clark Professional indicates that 75% of occupants see the condition of the washroom as a reflection of the entire facility’s hygiene standards. With drastic shifts in traffic patterns due to an increasingly hybrid workforce, restroom disinfection protocols are an ever-moving target. Because smart restroom technology provides intelligence, visibility, and control, occupants have a better restroom user experience while maintenance teams have a better work environment. The ability to address issues quickly also fosters cleaner restrooms, which mean fewer complaints and work orders, and less disruption.

Despite active recruiting, higher wages, and hiring incentives, the labor market for maintenance personnel remains competitive. With the remainder of the baby boomer generation approaching retirement age, the market is likely to get worse before it gets better. Company leaders who can adapt to this new reality and invest in their facilities—and employees—will mitigate health and high turnover risks, leading to greater resilience amidst a challenging labor market.

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About the Author

Juliet Hollyhurst

Juliet Hollyhurst is the business operations leader at Kimberly-Clark Professional for the smart-restroom solution Onvation. With 20 years of experience in marketing, sales, and innovation, she helps Kimberly-Clark fulfill its purpose of “Better Care for a Better World” by keeping customer needs at the center of everything she does and by providing trusted brands, innovative tech, and IoT solutions that transform restroom servicing. Keep in touch with Juliet on LinkedIn.

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