Last Updated JULY 2023

Retain Top Talent Amidst a Competitive Labor Market with Smart Restroom Technology

By: Juliet Hollyhurst, Onvation® operations leader, Kimberly-Clark Professional

Credit: Kimberly-Clark Professional

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[1].

Companies often struggle with hiring and retaining reliable janitorial employees. In fact, the janitorial industry employee turnover rate is between 200-400 percent during non-pandemic times[2]. Today, combined with the “great resignation” or “great reshuffling,” building service quit rates are more than double the national quit average[3]. Fortunately, there is a solution found in a seemingly unexpected place: the restroom.

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

Smart restroom technology enables facility managers to not only retain janitorial staff, but also increase efficiency while keeping them healthy and happy.

In the heart of Chicago on Madison Street, Accenture Tower, is a 1.47M square feet office skyscraper owned by KBS REIT III, managed by Transwestern Commercial Services Illinois, LLC. It is Class A LEED® Gold-certified building that has internationally earned The Outstanding Building of the Year (TOBY) Award by The Building Owner and Managers Association.

Helping to maintain its stellar reputation is Onvation, a connected software solution for smart restroom servicing which provides intelligence in the form of real-time data on restroom conditions across 40 floors to facility managers so that the janitorial team can focus on cleaning the occupied areas rather than wasting time and resources following a conventional cleaning schedule.


Credit: Transwestern

“Onvation helps us deliver great restroom experiences for our Accenture Tower tenants while also reducing waste to meet our sustainability goals.” – Julia Horan, General Manager.

Smart restroom technology can help businesses and facilities retain top talent amidst ongoing global workforce and industry challenges. Here’s how:

  1.  Do more with less. Most restroom maintenance and cleaning protocols are based on outdated and inefficient prescribed schedules, leading to poor visibility into 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. It is also easy for facility managers to use, which speeds up training and enables more strategic deployment of staff and resources.

  2. Reduce complaints. Public restrooms consistently are one of the most highly trafficked and most complained about areas in any building. All the while, Americans are more aware than ever of health, hygiene, and restroom cleanliness. With drastic shifts in traffic patterns, restroom disinfection protocols are an ever-moving target. Smart restroom technology provides maintenance teams with intelligence, visibility and control to offer a better work environment and a better restroom user experience. Cleaner restrooms mean fewer work orders, which equals less disruption and fewer complaints. This matters when survey data from Kimberly-Clark Professional indicates that 75 percent of workers thought the condition of the washroom reflects the hygiene standards of the rest of the facility.

  3. Set staff up for success. When workers have clear expectations and have the tools and technology to help them be successful, turnover rates are lower. This includes cleaning and janitorial staff. Stocking high-traffic restrooms with supplies can be a full-time job for maintenance crews during peak times. This can take away from cleaning up spills in common areas like lobbies and cafeterias, increasing the chance of slips and trips. Servicing decisions based on assumptions rather than facts can result in wasted time and wasteful spending, which can reflect poorly on staff. Smart solutions can be used by maintenance teams to optimize the efficiency of cleaning operations and diminish time staff spend checking dispensers by more than 90 percent per year[4].

    Credit: Onvation by Kimberly-Clark Professional

  4. Improve hygiene and health. The ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have transformed the way people think about restrooms and made restroom disinfection a top priority for commercial spaces across the United States, creating an increase in the usage of products like paper towels and tissues. Smart restroom technology with real-time alerts enables janitorial staff to stay ahead of keeping restrooms stocked with supplies such as soap and paper towels, enabling facility managers to always have supplies available for tenants to use.

    Credit: Onvation by Kimberly-Clark Professional

Despite active recruiting, higher wages and unique incentives, it’s a very competitive labor market. And with the remainder of the baby boomer generation now approaching retirement age, the employment 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 better mitigate health and high turnover risks, leading to greater resilience amidst a challenging labor market.  

Do your restrooms tell you when they need attention?


 Juliet Hollyhurst is the business operations leader at Kimberly-Clark Professional for Onvation®, the No.1 ranked smart restroom solution. 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 the needs of the customer at the center of everything she does and providing trusted brands, innovative tech and IoT solutions that transform restroom servicing. Find out more about Onvation® . Keep in touch with Juliet on LinkedIn.

[4] based on analysis of current Onvation customers

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published by Smart Buildings Technology in the Nov 2022 edition -