Business Lesson #58 – Help your employees make better decisions. Start by removing all restrooms.

Periodically in this column, I don my business consultant hat (a stylish Italian grey fedora) to share innovative business strategies to grow your business and improve your employees’ productivity. As a sought-after business process improvement expert and author of the popular business handbook, Stop Tasering Your Team – and 50 Other Strategies to Improve Employee Morale, I can help businesses prosper – if only they’d stop and listen to me for once.

I have frequently been approached by executives from Microsoft to Amazon.com to Ninja Ned’s Car Stereo & Hot Tub Emporium on South Aurora Avenue – all asking me the same question: How did you get past security? But as soon as they discover who I am, they are often surprised to learn about my out-of-the-box business strategies (usually as they are escorting me out-of-the-premises).

In this installment, I share the thought-provoking conclusions of a recent Dutch study published in the scholarly journal, Psychological Science. The study tested people’s decision-making ability when their bladders were full and found that people with full bladders tended to make better decisions and were better able to control and hold off making impulsive, costly decisions, leading to better judgment. (I swear I’m not making this up.) Other findings included that Dutch researchers appear to have way too much time on their hands.

The business implications are at once profound and game-changing: Fill your employees’ bladders until they’re about to explode, and they’ll pay dividends through better, less impulsive decisions. That’s why smart companies will follow my advice and start ripping out all employee restrooms immediately. Before you know it, your employees will be unleashing a pent-up surging tide of better decisions.

Oh sure, initially some employees might whine about the minor inconvenience of no longer having a place to syphon their python. But think about it. What exactly do most employees do in restrooms anyway – other than making their bladder gladder?

Research shows that in addition to the time it takes to sprinkle their tinkle, the average employee spends an additional 12 minutes in the restroom each workday doing non-work related activities. Over the course of a year for the average company this amounts to more than 74,000 man-hours of lost productivity (not to mention 127 woman-hours of lost productivity). Let’s not quibble over the fact that I just made up these statistics. The point is, time spent in restrooms is a huge drain on the vein of employee productivity.

Smart business executives understand the inherent power of trickle-down economics. Savvy CEO’s will relieve themselves of this lost productivity and eliminate this waste once and for all. That’s why I’m telling my clients to remove all restrooms and replace them with juice bars and a bank of refrigerators offering employees free refills on soft drinks and beer. Just imagine how much decision making will improve when every member of your sales team loads up on a six-pack of Heineken before lunch time. They’ll be bursting at the seams with brilliant ideas to open up new golden revenue streams.

Think how the decision-making skills of your IT developers will sky rocket with a Diet Pepsi dispenser conveniently built into their cubicles. (Consider offering Mountain Dew as a perk for your high-performing programmers.) A few forward-thinking business leaders are already conducting pilot studies on the feasibility of equipping employees with IV hookups to ensure a steady inflow of bladder-bursting liquids throughout the day. For these pioneers, I guess IV stands for Imaginative Visionary.

The same Dutch study went on to conclude that merely thinking about words related to urination triggered the same positive effect on decision making (true). That’s why I recommend placing posters in high-traffic locations throughout your office with images of lawn sprinklers or firemen hosing down a fire, or perhaps some youngsters playing with squirt guns. I might suggest a lovely framed photo of Old Faithful geyser for each person’s desk. Think of other ways to subtly remind workers about the importance of bladder control with motivational posters featuring messages like Remember, customers are your NUMBER ONE priority.

In a twist on the research study’s findings, pioneering retailers are applying the study’s findings in reverse in an effort to improve sales. If people with full bladders make good decisions, then the theory goes that customers with depleted bladders should make bad, impulsive decisions. That’s why my sources tell me that Costco is now planning to install convenient urinals at every cashier’s checkout station – tentatively to be called pee pods – to give customers an opportunity to empty their bladders right before they check out.

Customers will be encouraged to make a deposit into a self-service pee pod to earn 5% off any last-second purchases they place at the checkout counter. Costco’s marketing department is already hard at work developing creative in-store promotions like this: Trickle your pickle and save 20% – on our jumbo jar of kosher pickles! 

If you’re a business owner looking for ways to improve your employees’ decision-making, don’t let your under-performing slackers piss you off any more. Fill up their bladders and shut down those restrooms. Soon they’ll be producing raging rivers of output, flooding your business with startling decisions you never imagined possible.

Take my advice and before you know it, your entire team will be sharing stories about their incredible whiz of a boss.

That’s the view from the bleachers. Perhaps I’m off base. 

© Tim Jones, View from the Bleachers 2012

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  • Published On Mar. 22, 2012 by TEJ
  • 4 Comments


    1. Drew Fisher
      3/23/12

      Brilliant, as always, Tim. The work-flow principles you advocate here should keep productivity in American business high enough to put unemployment back in double digits for the foreseeable future. In ten years at CNBC, I never saw a clearer argument for the benefits of liquidity. And to those few people who might be angered by your argument, I say it is far better to be pissed off than to be pissed on.


    2. Jeanne Whalen
      3/24/12

      Was this blog inspired by Drew Fishers comment from the Painful Dark Confession?
      I’m in the “slow reader” club AND I take bladder control med’s … so there you have it.


    3. Jeanne Whalen
      3/24/12

      Just in case you missed it, “this” comment is a week late due to the painful club membership stipulations.


    4. Jim Hayden
      3/24/12

      Tim
      Where was you brilliance back in the 60′s and 70′s? As a sales person back in those days I could have used a few free beers (actually quite a few) at lunch time because what I was making I couldn’t afford to buy any. As time went on I got into management and could afford the 3 or 4 martini lunches. The point is, in my recollection, all of that alcohol made me an unbelievable high performer. The interesting thing is I don’t remember ever having to use the facilities. You know when I started writing this I had a great point I was going to make but I have to go so bad I can’t remember what it is. Later.

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