This is a question that I always pondered; how can we trust each other to take advantage of a sink and soap? Unless you are in a situation where you either have to pay to wash your hands, or someone is threatening to kill you if you wash your hands; you most likely (or at least should) feel obligated to do so.
However, I have been in situations where someone walks right past a sink (which works) and heads for the door instead. I also have been in situations where someone walks past a sink, but then returns to the sink…not to wash their hands, but to check out their hair.
It’s bad enough to see a customer do this, but what does that do to your thought process when you think about employees? I have three friends from college who worked in the food industry (I myself spent a summer at a health club taking orders and making food in the mornings) and each of my friends told me that there was always an employee who was gross in comparison to the others.
Now, they are good friends of mine and when I asked them if they washed their hands every time they went to the restroom, two of them said “yes, every single time” and the other said, “yeah, probably.” Before I wrote this, I asked them if I could write their response and they all agreed as long as I did not use their real names.
Even though I want to believe the two of my friends that washed “every single time”, it’s hard to believe. If one of them did not in fact wash their hands, then what they did in the restroom was now shared with everyone else. So why should we the customers trust that 100% (or in this case 66.6%) wash their hands after they use the restrooms?
I did some more research and asked a few more people who I knew in the food industry what they knew about employees washing hands and found that their numbers were very close to my own numbers of employees who washed their hands.
So the question is; how do we make this better? You can’t use violence to get an employee to wash their hands, but you could make the situation unavoidable and make them feel more obligated to wash their hands. If you put a sink on the outside of the restroom (it could be either the one used for the customers or the employees), in clear view of others around the area, then I believe employees would wash their hands more often.
People seem to behave better when there are others watching them and since you can’t legally put a camera in the restrooms (please don’t), then I think that a sink out in the open where people can see you wash your hands is the next best thing.