How many workers smell in the UK?
The stats from the research by the University of Bristol into body odour helps us. 0.5% of the working population in the UK smell. That’s 109 500 UK employees should use deodorants, but don’t! The study also tells us that a lucky 1 in 50 people have a gene that means they don’t produce body odour at all. The fact that they’ve got dry ear wax is an indication that they carry this gene! Now there’s something to think about asking on your application forms!
1 in every 200 British employees has a body odour problem which means that 6% of UK employers are likely to have an employee who smells. That’s 1 in every 17 workplaces! It’s a problem nobody likes talking about, and even fewer like working with, but it’s a problem that employers need to address tactfully rather than leave it to their less tactful employees. A survey by Australian Recruitment Employment Office found that 75% of people find it difficult to work alongside someone with bad body odour.
What causes workers to smell? There’s the obvious things
- Not washing/showering often enough. A survey by Laterooms.com polled 2 000 adults found that on 111 occasions someone didn’t shower or bath on at least one day and research by the Universities of Manchester, Edinburgh, Lancaster and Southampton found that 20% of Britons wash just four times a week or less.
- Not changing clothes often enough
- Going for a lunch time run and not showering afterwards
Then there’s the less obvious things
- Stress – we’re told this is the smelliest kind of sweat
- According to bra expert Susan Nethero women not washing their bras often enough – “Many women overwear and consequently underwash – bras because they have too few that fit properly” . The lacy odour-trapping fabrics touching the skin in more than one sweat-prone place means bras should be washed more often than you think.
- The hormonal changes of menopause can cause some women to sweat more than they have in the past
- Many people use deodorants and anti-perspirants to control their odour but there are cultural differences in their use. For example, most people from East Asia don’t produce smelly sweat, a quick trip to the supermarket in Japan will show the difference in the popularity of deodorant usage with a single-shelf in Japan versus shelves of choice in the UK.
But there are conditions which can make body odour worse
- Being male – men sweat twice as much as women
- Suffering from excessive sweating – 1% of the UK population suffer from a long-term condition called Hyperhidrosis
Fasting – whether for religious or health reasons, can cause sweat to smell differently
- Fish Odour Syndrome (Trimethylaminuria) is a genetic condition that makes the individual’s sweat smell like fish.
It’s not just sweat that makes UK employees smell and their colleagues complain. Bad breath is another workplace gripe; 64% of workers struggle to work with someone with bad breath. Then there’s smelly feet and too much perfume! 1 in 4 households in the UK has a can of Lynx lurking somewhere!
How many workers smell? Probably all of them, but some worse than others and it’s those that need to be spoken to before the matter starts to cause problems between staff members.
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Metis HR is a professional HR Consultancy based in the North West of England supporting clients across the country. We specialise in providing outsourced HR services to small and medium-sized businesses. Call us now on 01706 565 332 to discuss how we may help you.