Call for employers to do the right thing for left-handers

Known leftie Barak Obama

Known leftie Barak Obama

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Left-handers are the minority group when it comes to handedness, with about eight per cent of humans being lefties.

Famous southpaws include bona fide geniuses like Albert Einstein, Leonardo Da Vinci, Charlie Chaplin, Pele, Diego Maradona, Jimi Hendrix and David Bowie — and there’s a school of thought that says left-handers are more creative.

Be that as it may, many lefties will tell you about the challenges caused by living in such a right-handed world — and perhaps nowhere more so than in the workplace.

Indeed, if you thought all a left-hander had to worry about was awkward handshakes (remember left-handed Barack Obama’s disastrous handshake with lefty, er, leftist Fidel Castro at the end of their historic meeting in Cuba last year?), then you’re most definitely a righty who is in the wrong.

Keith Milsom, who owns 1968-founded Anything Left-Handed — ‘the first specialist left-handed business in the world’ — and is also the brain behind National Left-Handers Day (August 13) says: “Left-Handers face real, practical challenges at work, from conducting simple tasks, such as having to use right-handed scissors that don’t cut, to persevering with entire workstations being laid out incorrectly, making them difficult and uncomfortable to use.

“Unfortunately, we know that, due to the fact that most employers are right-handed themselves, they often fail to realise the problems this can cause. Luckily, those who are left-handed have learnt to adapt in many situations, but this shouldn’t be the answer to the problem.”

And a very real problem it is, too. Indeed, a 2015 study by recruitment firm CV-Library shows huge numbers of left-handed employees experience certain struggles throughout the working day — a result of avoiding the mainstream right-handed lifestyle.

The study also found that 96.7 per cent of employers don’t check whether new staff members are left-handed, and just 25.4 per cent supply left-handed team members with specialist equipment. It’s a stark contrast to the 82.4 per cent of employees that think employers have a duty of care to cater to left-handed workers.

Many lefties, it is fair to say, would like the choice of left-handed equipment. And yet more often than not they don’t.

“Businesses need to provide staff with the right tools to do the job,” says Lee Biggins, founder of CV-Library. “Most professional organisations should already be conducting work-station assessments for all of their employees and this should form a simple part of that process.

“It is within a company’s interest to quickly identify an employee’s needs and provide suitable equipment so they are able to work effectively. This will not only improve productivity, but also makes each team member feel valued and cared for, which is important in the workplace.”