Keeping Cool and Clean: Summer Hygiene In The Workplace

Navigating Hygiene Conversations with Employees: Addressing Summer Challenges

Darryl Horn, Friday, 30 June 2023 • 4 min read

As summer arrives in the UK, soaring temperatures often bring about a common issue in the workplace: maintaining proper hygiene. Addressing this concern with employees requires tact, sensitivity, and clear communication. In this article, we will explore effective strategies for having conversations about hygiene with employees, particularly during the summer season. Additionally, we will provide valuable tips for adapting to hot weather in various working environments, and discuss what actions can be taken if warnings regarding hygiene go unheeded.

Setting the Stage for the Conversation

Before initiating a conversation about hygiene, it is crucial to approach the subject with empathy and professionalism. Choose an appropriate time and location for a private discussion, ensuring that both parties feel comfortable and respected. Begin by expressing your concern for the employee's well-being and the impact their personal hygiene may have on the work environment.

Communicating the Importance of Hygiene

Clearly articulate the significance of maintaining good hygiene standards at the workplace. Explain how personal hygiene contributes to the overall well-being of both individuals and the team. Emphasise that hygiene is not only a matter of personal appearance but also a vital factor in preventing the spread of illnesses and maintaining a positive work atmosphere.

Addressing Summer Hygiene Challenges

During the summer season, heat and humidity can exacerbate hygiene concerns. Provide specific guidance and tips on adapting to hot weather in different working environments. Some recommendations include:

  • Clothing and Uniforms: Encourage employees to wear lightweight and breathable clothing suitable for the workplace. If uniforms are mandatory, consider implementing temporary adjustments, such as relaxed dress codes or the provision of alternative materials.
  • Personal Grooming: Advise employees to maintain good personal grooming habits, such as regular showers, using antiperspirants or deodorants, and changing clothes when necessary. Stress the importance of oral hygiene, including brushing teeth regularly and using mouthwash.
  • Hand Hygiene: Reinforce the significance of frequent handwashing, especially during summer when sweat and humidity can lead to increased bacterial growth. Encourage employees to use hand sanitisers if washing facilities are not readily available.
  • Proper Ventilation: Promote the circulation of fresh air within the workplace, either through natural ventilation or by employing fans or air conditioning systems. Adequate ventilation can help minimse the effects of heat and reduce unpleasant odors.

Active Listening and Offering Support

During the conversation, practice active listening by allowing employees to share their perspectives and concerns. Demonstrate understanding and empathy, reinforcing that the conversation is intended to support their well-being and the overall work environment. If necessary, offer resources or provide suggestions for seeking professional assistance, such as counseling or medical advice.

Follow-Up and Documenting

After discussing hygiene concerns, establish a plan for follow-up to ensure progress is made. Offer guidance on specific areas that need improvement and set achievable goals together. Maintain proper documentation of the conversation, including any agreed-upon actions, in case further intervention is required.

Dealing with Unheeded Warnings

Despite initial conversations and support, there may be instances where warnings go unheeded. In such cases, consider the following steps:

  1. Training and Education: Organise training sessions or workshops focused on personal hygiene and its importance in the workplace. By increasing awareness and knowledge, employees may be more inclined to make positive changes.
  2. Progressive Disciplinary Measures: Implement a progressive disciplinary process, starting with verbal reminders and escalating to written warnings if necessary. Clearly communicate the consequences of non-compliance while providing employees with an opportunity to rectify the situation.

Conversations about hygiene with employees during the summer months in the UK can be sensitive yet necessary. By approaching the subject with empathy, clear communication, and practical tips, employers can foster a healthy and hygienic work environment. Remember to listen actively, offer support, and document the conversations, providing opportunities for improvement. Should warnings go unheeded, follow the appropriate disciplinary measures and seek the guidance of HR or management to address persistent issues. By addressing summer hygiene challenges head-on, employers can create a workplace that prioritises employee well-being, productivity, and overall satisfaction.

Keeping Cool and Clean: Summer Hygiene In The Workplace
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This article was first published on 30/6/23.

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About the author


Darryl is a Chartered CIPD Member, business leader and operational manager with 30 years experience in on-the-ground and strategic HR, specialising in Human Resources Management, Employment Law, Employee Relations and Learning & Development.

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