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Keeping bathroom breaks under control

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As a manager you have done your best to keep your employees happy and at their best. You have written policies about breaks, but your employees seem to feel that they are more "guidelines" to consider instead of policies.

Being a manager you know how important breaks are for your employees, it gives them a few minutes of personal time during their day. That personal time helps them to clear their mind and gives them time use the restroom.

Even though employee breaks are important, when employees are abusing their breaks it is hard to feel like you should continue to offer them. There are a few things to keep in mind that will help you feel like you have control over your employee's bathroom breaks.

  • First you should have a clear policy outlined about breaks. The policy should be in writing and can be referred to often, especially with a new hire. It should state the break allowances, time and frequency, and also penalties for disregarding the policy. If it is in writing then your employees have no room for dispute.
  • Be aware of specific employee's medical needs. This might mean that they need extra bathroom breaks, or a break for medication, something that is not part of your policy. These people are usually grateful for the extra attention for their needs, making them less likely to abuse their breaks. Don't discriminate against an employee in need because of abuse by another employee.
  • Take the time to remind employees occasionally about the policy. This can be done in a monthly newsletter, on the bulletin board, or even on a reminder with their paychecks. This once again clears up the excuse that they didn't know the policy. It has been found that posting a sign in the break room only works for a matter of days, after that it just starts to become part of the décor and isn't noticed or read anymore.
  • If you find that you have one or even several employees that are abusing the policy regularly, then it is time to have a talk. Going over the problem in staff meeting isn't a good idea, the offenders will just assume that you are talking to everyone else. If you want an employee to know that they are not obeying the policy then you need to talk with them one on one. And be direct, tell them what you are concerned about and that it needs fixing.
  • Maybe the reason the policy is abused is because there are some flaws in it. If you feel like the reason for the abuse is because the policy isn't effective, then this is the time to take it to a staff meeting. Your employees will be able to tell you corrections that need to be made to better accommodate them. They may also be able to help you decide on more strict rules for policy violators once the policy has been updated.
  • When it seems that nothing has worked, it is time to step in and monitor. You can do this casually or directly. It might work to just be present in the break room with them where they know you can watch the clock or you might just have to say something like, "See you back at 10:45!" so that they know that you are aware of when they are supposed to be back.

Bathroom breaks are important, for obvious reasons. Keeping them under control shouldn't be hard if employees know that they are for their benefit and not yours. When they are getting paid to take a break then it is okay to make them follow policy.

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Posted by DF
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