It’s a difficult topic—personal hygiene. Whether an employee is refusing to wash their hands, or a persistent odorous habit, starting a conversation is tough. But it can be essential.
Sometimes these issues can just be off-putting. But other times, they’re a serious health & safety concern. So, to help avoid the awkwardness and reduce the risk of bacteria being spread around the office, we’ve put together a few top tips.
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Managing sickness absence in the workplace
A healthy workplace will have a lower sickness absence than one filled with unhealthy habits. But establishing and maintaining a culture of cleanliness isn't easy.
Here's five top tips to get you started:
1. Start with a policy
Having a hygiene policy in your handbook is a good place to start. If you work in certain industries, i.e. Food & Drink, this should be standard. But if not, there’s nothing stopping you creating one.
2. Educate your workforce
Make information available on the company intranet. Put signs in the kitchen(s) and bathroom(s). Send around a reminder email of your expectations. These are all ways to educate your employees without causing offence.
3. Set a good example
It’s hard for employees to take reminders about hygiene seriously if the workplace is filthy. Ensure all areas are clean, but in particular kitchens and bathrooms as these are breeding grounds for bacteria.
4. Encourage personal hygiene—equally
If you have a small team, why not buy them all a hand-sanitiser for their desk? Or a box of tissues each? As long as you don’t single anyone out, measures such as this are fine.
5. Speak to the employee directly
Sometimes, a one-to-one chat is the only option left to you. Make sure to speak to them privately. Inform them of the issue directly, in a non-judgemental manner. Be sympathetic and try to put them at ease as much as possible. Outline what needs to happen and what the consequences will be if the situation doesn’t improve. If they have a medical condition, let them know you’ll consider making reasonable adjustments.
Sickness absence costs the economy billions each year, and our advisers receive hundreds of calls each month about the issue. But ultimately what you care about is the cost to you. Don't let a bad situation worsen. It will impact morale, productivity and potentially cost you thousands.
If the situation doesn’t improve and the employee cites health or cultural reasons for their situation, you might rightly be concerned about a discrimination claim. If you’re worried, seek independent legal advice. Call Croner today for confidential, expert advice on 01455 858 132.
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