Cracking Down On Substandard Hygiene Habits
Educating your staff on the importance of positive hygiene is essential, but employers will also need to provide resources to encourage cleanliness.
With 11% of young office workers admitting that they don’t wash their hands at all after going to the toilet, the repercussions for colleagues in the same workplace are extremely worrying. From hotdesking environments to shared kitchen and bathroom facilities, everyone working in the same office environment is at risk if substandard hygiene habits are allowed. The question is, what to do about this issue?
Improving Bathroom Hygiene
A survey of 5,000 respondents found that only 61% of workers were washing their hands correctly after a visit to the bathroom. A further 18% only carried out a quick wash, whilst 14% occasionally wash and the much more concerning 7% bracket of workers of all ages admit that they never wash their hands at all.
Although there should be no excuses for workers failing to wash their hands, only a basic level of hygiene will be achieved if organisations don’t supply adequate methods of sanitisation for their workers. Employers are required by law to provide sanitary bins in each female bathroom, but can provide a cleaner environment still by including air and toilet seat sanitisers, sanitary dispensers for wrapping used products in, liquid soap dispensers and hand dryers. A washroom hygiene company is able to supply all of these, so you don’t have to source individual items to kit out your bathrooms. Without these features your workers may resort to using bars of soap or hand towels which are known to harbour germs.
Establishing Best Practices
Whether the reasons for this relaxed approach to toilet hygiene stem from general laziness, or a lack of knowledge about infectious diseases, it comes down to HR to educate workers on best hygiene practices to ensure good health is maintained amongst the workforce.
HR should begin by writing a section contained within their staff policies or handbook to define what is expected in terms of cleanliness. This should be distributed to all members of staff with full information on the resources available such as soap dispensers, or the location of sanitary bins so that everyone has access to all the facts. If there is an individual who is known not to abide by the rules, then it may be necessary to train managers to have difficult, yet discreet conversations about this important issue.
Once you believe that you’ve improved hygiene in the bathroom, it’s time to tackle the spread of germs in the rest of the office. Hotdesking has become more popular in recent years, as business owners are believed to save 30% in costs by taking static desks away from workers who may travel or be based in multiple locations. Whilst hotdesking may work in terms of efficiency, it’s not great for hygiene. A survey of 100 workers over a four-month period found that bacterial contamination was 18% higher, with a significant 41% increase in activity on the computer mouse, after hotdesking was introduced. Providing workers with their own swabs to be used as soon as they’ve finished with the desk, can help to reduce the spread of bacteria.
Remember that it only takes one employee to disregard healthy toilet hygiene for it to have a knock-on effect to the rest of your team, particularly when hotdesking or using communal workplace facilities. Begin by using a managed washroom services package to combat poor hygiene practices in the bathroom, provide swabs for any shared desk facilities and make sure staff are trained on the importance of staying clean and healthy.