August 29, 2013
Smells like team spirit. Strong influence of scent in the workplace
When Ireland became the first country in the world to impose an outright smoking ban in public places, it wasn’t long before a hitherto uncharted problem emerged – the smell of body odour in crowded pubs, which it was rumoured at the time – was solved by piping in the smell of smoke to recreate that ‘pub atmosphere,’ but without the carcinogenic effects. Aside from washrooms, how an office smells isn’t a factor which merits as much attention as how it looks or the level of noise, yet olfactory perception can have a powerful effect on our mood, how we regard our surroundings and of course our response to those with which we have to share our space.
So it’s really not surprising to learn that new research of 1,000 UK adults shows that smelling good increases your chances of success in interviews, as 1 in 20 Brits have rejected a job applicant because of how they smelled. The research, commissioned by flexible workspace provider, Avanta, shows that 57 per cent of Brits agree that smell is detrimental to your job prospects with workers aged between 25 and 34 being the most odour conscious at work.
Perfumer, Ruth Mastenbroek, who has created a scent for Avanta’s offices explains: “Smell is the most powerful of the senses and is best able to influence brain activity. The Olfactory bulb in the brain is responsible for the perception of smell, and is part of the limbic system that directly connects to the areas of the brain that process emotion and learning. This is one of the reasons why so often something that we smell will trigger a memory of something, or someone.”
Unsurprisingly, women place a greater emphasis on smelling good to succeed (60% vs. 53%) but what is noticeable is that men are almost twice as likely to reject a job applicant because they had overpowering aftershave/perfume (7% vs. 4%), so it’s not about smelling ‘good’ but rather, having a neutral scent.
The survey also found that two out of three people agree that how your office smells affects your productivity, morale and attitude, with those aged 25-34 placing far more importance on office aroma than their more senior colleagues aged 55+ (73% vs. 57%).
For the record, the top office olfactory offenders are:
- The toilets (41%)
- People eating fish at their desks (37%)
- The bins (33%)
- People eating curry at their desks (29%)
- Colleagues taking their shoes off (25%)
- ‘My’ colleagues (12%)