Speaking with the medical director of London Doctors Clinic, we reveal not only how you can protect allergic staff but also why it’s important
For most of us the warm weather and blossoming greenery were especially welcome after having experienced the Beast From the East. However, the onset of spring means many workers will now prepare to suffer from hay fever. From itchy eyes and sneezing to sleep disturbance with resulting fatigue, this is hardly a matter for entrepreneurs eager to make their startups successful to disregard.
Speaking exclusively with Elite Business, Daniel Fenton, the medical director of London Doctors Clinic, the private GP clinic, said: “The Met Office [has] discovered that hay fever costs UK employers 29 million days’ worth of lost work per year, with employees who suffer from severe hay fever needing an average of 8.4 days away from their desk. So hay fever should not be ignored by employers.”
Fortunately there are some ways to ease this period for your employees and avoid the drop in productivity.
(1) Good flooring
“Whilst plush carpets may look fantastic in certain areas, they harbour both dust and pollen, which create a nightmare environment for hay fever and dust allergy sufferers alike,” Fenton says. “Sweepable and moppable floors are much better for pollen-free working conditions. If there are carpets, ensuring they are thoroughly vacuumed on a daily basis by the cleaning staff is essential.”
(2) Removal of plants and flowers
“Whilst they can make an office look nicer, these should be removed from working areas, as people seemingly forget that flowers create pollen,” says Fenton.
(3) Coats and jacket storage
“It would be great to have a separate cloakroom for coats and jackets.” says Fenton. “Clothes pick up small pieces of pollen each time you go outside, these small particles are then deposited into the working space, especially if your staff are in the habit of hanging theirs coat on the back of their chair.”
(4) Flexible working
“If the simple measures have not helped, it would be sensible to consider offering flexible working on high pollen days” says Fenton. “This may mean allowing staff to work from home or [starting and finishing early]. Pollen counts are different throughout the day. If the 9am pollen is high, an 8am or 10am start may be preferable when levels are lower.”
(5) Help your staff see a doctor
“Allow your staff to see their doctor to discuss hay fever treatments,” says Fenton. “If the standard over-the-counter medications have not been helping, there are a range of prescribable medications that can be offered, including tablets, nasal sprays and even a hay fever injection, which is used to help the most severe sufferers.”
Keeping these steps in mind may not cure your employees’ allergies but supporting them will encourage staff satisfaction that effectively empowers your agenda for growing your business – while nurturing your team retention at the same time.