How To Keep Your Employees Warm During The Energy Crisis

Positive young man laughing while collaborating with colleagues on creating presentation using colorful stickers for productive work in office

Electricity prices have increased 74% for large industrial units in the past ten years, while gas has risen 250%. For businesses with fixed operational costs, it can be difficult to find ways to economise. And the heating bill begins to seem like an easy option. But as an employer, you have a responsibility for the well-being of your employees. Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 say that employers must provide a ‘reasonable’ temperature in the workplace. So, how do you balance that with soaring energy bills?  Keeping your staff warm, healthy and happy, without breaking the bank to pay your electricity bill.

 

Why is it important to keep employees warm?

Apart from your legal obligations, ensuring that your employees are comfortable in the workplace is integral if you wish to optimise productivity, reduce employee churn, and keep your employees healthy.

Being cold for long periods of time not only impacts concentration, but can actually result in a range of long-term health concerns. Thickening the blood, increasing blood pressure, and tightening the airways. If any of your employees have chronic health conditions, such as COPD, that can cause serious ramifications, including hospitalisation. Even in otherwise healthy employees, working in low temperatures – 10°C – can produce illness, including respiratory, cardiovascular and musculoskeletal disorders.

Your employees are your greatest asset. If you don’t want to face the expense of long-term sick pay or recruitment, ensuring a comfortable working environment is a priority.

 

What can you do to improve ambient temperatures without increasing your energy bill?

The UK government Approved Code Of Practice states that UK businesses must maintain a minimum indoor temperature of 16 degrees celsius. But that’s still pretty low for most people, especially those doing stationary jobs, such as office-based work, where 20 degrees would typically be considered to be the norm. But there are things you can do to increase the temperature of a room without turning up the heating.

 

  • Ceiling fans – while we associate ceiling fans with cooling rather than heating, they can actually make a room or workspace warmer by helping to distribute the heat more evenly. And running fans will usually be more cost effective than turning up the heating.
  • Windows and doors – Keeping the windows and doors of your workplace closed can significantly help to keep heat inside and make the space feel warmer.
  • PVC strip curtains – Investing in these can not only help to keep rooms warmer but can also help with noise pollution if your workplace is in a busy area.
  • Heating pads – Buying heating pads for your employees can be an inexpensive way of helping them to keep warm this winter.
  • Flooring – While tiles and wooden floorboards or concrete floors in warehouses may be practical for cleaning, they also suck the heat out of the space. These also make employees feel colder as cold feet quickly drain heat from the rest of the body. Invest in industrial carpet or rubber matting for your workspace to maximise heat during the colder months.

If you’re trying to cut your energy bills, it’s also worth looking at employee behaviour. It’s not uncommon for office staff to invest in a personal space heater. Not only could this land you in trouble with any visiting fire officers due to a lack of PAT testing and the associated fire risk. Even a single space heater will add to your electricity bill. So, it’s worth making regular office inspections.

 

Turning up health and productivity

The responsibility for ensuring employee safety and comfort always falls to the employer.  If your team complain of feeling cold, then it’s your job to deal with it. As tempting as it might be to simply suggest they bring in a jumper tomorrow. But beyond responsibility, there are the objectives of productivity and loyalty. And although reducing your energy bills is important, keeping your office warm might not cost your business quite as much as lost revenue for poor productivity or recruitment. Especially given the recent announcement of the Energy Bill Relief Scheme for businesses.

In the age of The Great Resignation and Quiet Quitting, keeping your employees happy has never been more important. The last thing that most business owners want to do at the moment is to spend more money than necessary. But by investing in heat-saving items such as mats, carpets and thermal curtains, you can save a huge amount of money in the long run and keep your employees comfortable and content.

 

Richard O’Connor, director at First Mats