Bathrooms: The best place to communicate to employees

OK, it may not be the best, but it and other unheralded sites are great ways to reach a captive audience.

Did you know that many leading companies are now printing United Way announcements on the office toilet paper?

Or that they are planting QR codes in the restroom stalls so employees can link to the intranet when they’re not yakking away on their smartphones?

Actually, we just made those up. But it is true that Blogging4Jobs is heralding the office bathroom as one of your workplace’s unused communications nexuses. And opportunities abound elsewhere for nonstop messaging.

The blog’s author cites a former boss who sought to engage his workforce in unlikely places. He “thought of the office potty like a five-minute infomercial. An opportunity at his employee’s attention. Much like late night television, you couldn’t [escape] his announcements,” wrote Jessica Miller-Merrell.

The potty-pooper boss incorporated streamed music with audio commentary and company announcements. Music by Kenny G would be followed by the announcement, “Join us for the annual family employee picnic Sunday.”

Er, thanks, but we just lost our appetite.

Miller-Merrell doesn’t say whether the announcements included her boss’s voice saying, “Quit talking on the cell phone in the can, for the love of Pete! Have you no shame?”

But the piece does suggest that communicators can find unusual touch-points beyond the typical bulletin boards and break room posters.

“You may already be leveraging some of these nexus connection points like the office time clock, internal portals, employee entrances, and even refrigerator doors,” Miller-Merrell wrote. “But there are others you may have missed. Mobile text messaging can serve as an effective communication nexus for those especially important announcements like building closures, severe weather, specific communications, and emergency situations. With 94 percent of text messages read, it’s a nexus that sure beats announcements and elevator music any day.”

Miller-Merrell’s old boss is not the only one to gaze longingly under the stall door at that captive audience with its pants around its ankles. Earlier this year, Employee Benefit News recommended ways to make sure they never forget who signs their paychecks.

Among EBN’s suggestions:

1. Post communications at eye level for those seated in the stall.

2. Keep the in-stall info sheets to a single page.

3. Include images, since people are more likely to pay attention to messages with pictures.

4. Change the materials every two weeks.

5. Use differently colored paper for each update to signal the arrival of new reading material.

6. Get a bullhorn and offer pep talks to bathroom users during the high-volume morning hours.

OK, we made that last one up, too. But do think about adding talking sugar dispensers to the break room.

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