** Updated ** Do Employees Read Break Room Signage Anyway?

Break Room Posters in the Workplace

**Update 4/18/12:  The 4/30/12 posting date has been postponed due to legal issues.  Learn more below.  

Do Employees Read Break Room Signage Anyway?

If you work or live in the human resources and hiring manager space, you may be familiar with the drama regarding the pro-union employee posters that my friends at the National Labor Relations Board are mandating private employers post in the break rooms and employee areas.  Delightfully called the Employee Rights Notice Posting.  The initial deadline date in which to post these signs was in 2011, but the final, final, final date  for this labor law compliance was moved back to April 30, 2012.

Where Are Your Labor Law Posters?

The Employee Rights Notice Posting is required by employers to display is positively pro-union and companies who are non-union companies will be required per the NLRB to display this fancy signage in their employee and break room areas.  Learn more about the signage requirements from our good friends at the NLRB here.

NLRB Rules and State Labor Laws

When it comes to posting information and signs in the break room, companies are bound to different requirements depending on state.  Back in 2009, I was the HR Director at OfficeMax and had to update my break room posters after the Federal minimum wage rate changed.  The facility where my office was worked B2B helping companies save money and select the appropriate office supplies and furniture.  It was an obvious choice to order the sign at the company where I worked.  In fact, I tried.  Except the signs were on backorder, and I was forced to order the new 5 in 1 Federal poster from GNeil instead.

Which brings me to my original point of this post . . . do employees even read break room signage anyway?

When Do Employees Read Break Room Posters?

Most managers can’t even get their employees to read their own email for which they spend an average of 2 1/2 hours a day doing.  An average person receives a total of 147 emails per day, and break room posters just don’t fall into that mix.  Just add an additional 2 hours per day to an average employee being unproductive at work, and that means that nearly half of an employee’s work day is spent wasting time, reading emails, or updating their Facebook status.

The NLRB would be much better in their propaganda to propose that companies send mandatory email or internal message updates through Yammer, instead of the actual sign unless that sign is displayed on the inside of the company’s bathroom doors.  I’ve said before, the employee break room is where the gossip and communication at the organization happens.  That and the smoking section outside your facility, of course.  I call these company gathering points the “Company Communication Nexus.”

That communication nexus is the only point where you have 5 minutes of an employee’s undivided attention which is why I’ve always been an advocate of posting company announcements and policy updates on the inside of bathroom stall doors.   Except that this communication nexus is no longer as effective since 75% of American workers use their cell phone in the restroom.  So much for the communication nexus.  What’s a corporate HR Manager to do?

Good Thing the Federal Labor Relations Board Doesn’t Deal with the Company Fridge

Back in 2001 and in my first HR role, I had the fantastic honor of being the refrigerator monitor in addition to my responsibilities as break room manager.  And so I posted a sign on the refrigerator wall and nearly every available space in that break room alerting my facility and its employees to the fact that the refrigerator would be cleaned on XX date.  D Day arrived and I promptly cleaned the refrigerator and unknowingly unleashed a wrath from employees that no HR Manager before and even still to this day had ever felt.  Thank goodness D Day didn’t coincide with the annual employee survey.  That would have been hell.  D Day happened to be the first and last time I actually cleaned my work refrigerator.  I quickly learned about the coveted manager tool, delegation.  Employees don’t read stuff in the break room, bathroom, or at work, but they like to complain, bitch, and moan.  What employees do like to be is entertained and that is what television, social media, and idle workplace gossip is for.  Strictly entertainment so employers make it entertaining.

Get the NLRB Complaint Break Room Posters

So employers post that ridiculous new Employee Rights Notice Posting signage by April 30, 2012, and do it behind that break room door. Breathe a sigh of relief knowing that employees don’t actually read anything,  especially not your CEO’s weekly corporate communication email and not the NLRB posters either.

**Update 4/18/12:  The District Court of Appeals has temporarily enjoined the poster requirement due to current legal issues.  Read more about what they are here.  There is no new current deadline that has been established.  We’ll keep you posted on any more updates or changes.  

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Learn more about Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource, and the host of the Workology Podcast. More of her blogs can be found here.

Reader Interactions


  1. Jerry Albright says

    If you still need the NLRB poster encouraging employees to unionized – I’ve got one still curled up in that brown tube they set it to me in. So for all practical purposes – it’s never been posted (or read for that matter)

    If anyone’s interested – come and get it.

  2. Doug Shaw says

    He he – I did some work for a client and organised a drop in session in a break room. When I arrived the door was propped open. On the door was written ‘Fire Door – must be kept closed at all times’. Nuff said 🙂



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