Staff illnesses cost us £319 BILLION a year – and our only protection is a flu jab?

How good is anyone’s work when not feeling well? How much does it cost in lost time and mistakes? Photo by Morgan Basham on Unsplash

That annual office flu jab is not exactly the best protection .

Only 20% effective against this year’s H3N2 virus. And hardly at all against flanking H1N1, B/Yamagata or B/Victoria strains.

And zero of course against the billions and billions of other germs that surround us every day.

Like your favourite and ours at this time of the year – the winter vomiting bug, norovirus. Or its happy gastric playmates – salmonella, campylobacter, e.coli. Pick any you like, between them they make us feel lousy 57.5 days a year.

Unwell at work

Not off sick and languishing in our beds mind – just ill enough to give us a horrible day at work. Barely able to cope and dying for five o’clock to come round and put us out of our misery.

Especially if it’s legionnaire’s disease.

Never heard of it? Very few of us have – until it crops up on OUR watch.

That’s when Health & Safety throw the protection book at you. No excuse,, see?

You’ve never heard of this thing, yet they’ll fine you A MILLION QUID or more for not providing protection. A nasty like pneumonia that breeds in water tanks and pipes, then goes riding around in the aircon system.

One whiff of that and staff could die. Which is why Health & Safety come down heavy if you don’t take precautions.

A percentage of turnover plus a custodial sentence?

Par for the course.

G4S Cash Solutions had to cough up £1.8 million.  And the £1 million fine for retailers JTF Wholesale just about put them out of business when two customers died and nineteen others needed treatment.

Don’t mess with Health & Safety

Which is why protection regulations are chiselled in stone at HSE’s Head Office in Bootle, Merseyside.

By law you have to keep staff safe and protected. Not just from the molten metal machinery on the factory floor – but from pretty well any hazard that could harm staff wellbeing. Even the deadly bubonic plague, brought back invisibly from last month’s sales trip to Madagascar.

Be found negligent and you could be facing a corporate manslaughter charge, just for neglecting a few invisible germs.

Yes, you could get banged up for it.  But more likely on your way to being broke first.

Which where we get that £319 billion from. The combined cost of sickness absenteeism – £29 billion from being off sick from work. And the TEN TIMES greater cost of sickness presenteeism  – £290 billion from people working at their desks unwell.

Spiralling knock-ons

Scary costs, yes – and they could easily be a lot worse. Because how good is productivity when staff struggle through their workloads feeling like death? How much should you add for mistakes, oversights, damaged relationships and having to repeat things over and over?

Without wanting to be prophets of doom, here’s a simple calculator to help work it out.

Scarier still is that most illnesses at work probably ORIGINATE there too.

You can’t see germs. But count on it, they’re there alright – and the track record for most workplaces is not good.

Workplace health hazards

To make things worse, most of us have really lax personal hygiene as well.

Get the picture? Already ten to one, you’re in dereliction of ensuring staff protection from germs. Added to which what would shareholders say if they knew the real impact of workplace health hazards against productivity?

Bad, bad, yes – but it doesn’t have to be a disaster.

Get out of jail free

Because germs can be neutralised in as little as forty minutes for around £30 a day. No viruses, no bacteria, everything sterilised to zero everywhere in the office.

Real protection – with all germs safely eliminated after everyone has gone home at night.

Worth the money?

You tell us.

In one hit you reclaim most of the sickness costs of both absenteeism and presenteeism. All except those caused by muscular pain and being stressed out.

With staff back to feeling healthy and revved up, productivity starts nudging upwards again. Health & Safety are off your back with all hazards removed. And chances are good you don’t even need company flu jabs any more.

Amazing what a little protection buys, isn’t it?

About this blog

Back Off, Bacteria! is the blog of Hyper Hygiene Ltd, supplier of what we’re convinced is the most effective health protection system in the world. A fully mobile, all-automatic Hypersteriliser machine mists up workplaces with ionised hydrogen peroxide, spreading everywhere and eliminating all bacteria, viruses and fungi.

Hypersteriliser units are supplied to businesses and institutions across the UK, notably the haematology and other critical units at Salford Royal Hospital, Greater Manchester; Doncaster & Bassetlaw Hospital; South Warwickshire Hospital; Coventry & Warwickshire Hospital; and Queen Victoria Hospital, East Grinstead.

The Halo Hypersteriliser system achieves 6-log Sterility Assurance Level – 99.9999% of germs destroyed. It is the only EPA-registered dry mist fogging system – EPA No 84526-6. It is also EU Biocide Article 95 Compliant.

How British businesses walk away from saving £319 billion a year

£319 billion a year – just waiting for British businesses to claim it back. Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it is how the saying goes. An attitude that’s costing British businesses £319 billion a year.

That’s the current price tag for UK absenteeism (£29 billion a year) and presenteeism (£290 billion) combined. Money paid out to cover absentees – people taking off sick from work. And presentees, who cost 10 times more – sick people going to work anyway, and trying to wing it.

British businesses losing out

Not that British businesses are ignoring the problem. Sick leave and low productivity are familiar gripes around every board room table. We’re familiar with the issue, but don’t do anything about it.

Meanwhile £319 billion is not exactly chicken feed. More than twice the cost of the NHS budget – the cost of caring for A WHOLE COUNTRY of sick people – it makes even Brexit look like a sideshow.

Yes, but.

Businesses KNOW the problem. And freeze up tharn, like a rabbit in the headlights.

Sure, illness happens. It’s a downside everybody faces. What can you do?

None of your corporate fitness or wellness programmes, that’s for sure. Already set to be worth £20 billion by 2020, they’re focused more on keeping well people well than physically avoiding illness.

Wellness vs illness prevention

Where is the health protection package that actually prevents illness?

Apart from the flu jab option offered up as an afterthought, you’d be hard pressed to find one.

Which makes even less sense when you think about it.

That British businesses are haemorrhaging cash to the tune of £319 billion a year in illness costs, and just accept it. Yet at the same time are gleefully prepared to spend £22 billion a year on health and wellness.

It’s not as if the cause of illnesses not known either. According to the ONS, more than half of sickness absences are directly related to infections caused by germs – minor illnesses 33.1%; gastrointestinal problems 6.6%; eye, ear, nose and mouth issues 4.5%; respiratory conditions 3.5%; headaches 3.4% and genito-urinary problems 3.0%.

Workplace health hazards

Against that, any attempt to stop germs are pretty well zero, with most workplaces positively teeming with health hazards.

These risks are compounded by low levels of personal hygiene.

Mop and bucket defence?

That leaves the only defence against germs, if any, to the nightly char service. The quick once-over at £20 or £30 an hour to make the place neat and tidy, never really intended for anything to do with health.

A missed opportunity – because for only another £30, the whole place could be sterilised throughout, eliminating all germs entirely. No viruses, no bacteria, no fungi – no illnesses to catch, no need for time off, no underpowered staff unwell at their desks.

Can it really be that easy?

Well at £30 a day, it’s not expensive to fund out, is it?

Not when there’s £319 billion waiting to be clawed back.

About this blog

Back Off, Bacteria! is the blog of Hyper Hygiene Ltd, supplier of what we’re convinced is the most effective health protection system in the world. A fully mobile, all-automatic Hypersteriliser machine mists up workplaces with ionised hydrogen peroxide, spreading everywhere and eliminating all bacteria, viruses and fungi.

Hypersteriliser units are supplied to businesses and institutions across the UK, notably the haematology and other critical units at Salford Royal Hospital, Greater Manchester; Doncaster & Bassetlaw Hospital; South Warwickshire Hospital; Coventry & Warwickshire Hospital; and Queen Victoria Hospital, East Grinstead.

The Halo Hypersteriliser system achieves 6-log Sterility Assurance Level – 99.9999% of germs destroyed. It is the only EPA-registered dry mist fogging system – EPA No 84526-6. It is also EU Biocide Article 95 Compliant.

How many staff wellness plans actually prevent illness?

Girl Champion Lifter
There’s on heck of a difference between real staff wellness and staff lifestyle management. Photo by Alora Griffiths on Unsplash

Most staff wellness plans are anything but.

They might promote staff wellness – and certainly a lot of feelgood. So as staff reward programmes they have their place.

Trouble is, they tend to work on the Pareto principle – that 80% of employees justify only 20% of the costs.  And the costs, particularly in the US, are eye-watering – over $6bn (£3.74bn) annually and 70% of Fortune 500 companies have them in place.

Staff wellness and staff wellness

But there’s wellness plans and wellness plans. Most staff are already well and reasonably healthy. So that “wellness” in reality means “lifestyle management” – diet, exercise, and lifestyle changes aimed at keeping them healthy.

Not active intervention to prevent them becoming ill.

The rest of the workforce most probably do have a problem. Usually a chronic condition that employers have already compensated for, such as wheelchair access. Either that or management and staffer recognise some kind of impaired performance and make allowances.

There is an issue though, that most staff are already well and reasonably healthy. MOST of the time yes, but not all of it.

It’s not that they are sick and have to be absent. But pretty well all of us are aware that every so often we are not ourselves and struggle to get through the day.

Every three days

Every so often happens more often than we think. Around every three days according to research by Benenden Healthcare Society. Usually nothing serious, perhaps a cold or flu, a stomach upset, headache or muscle injury.

Enough to affect our performance though.

How well we know that things takes twice as long when we can’t concentrate. That figures never seem to add up the way we want them to. And that every single detail is ten times more complicated than it is normally.

Presenteeism, it’s called. People coming to work unwell and trying to do their jobs underpowered – to a greater or lesser capability, EVERY THREE DAYS.

Already experts calculate UK absenteeism costs at £29 billion at an average of 6.6 days off for each employee annually.  But presenteeism is estimated at ten times more than that – £290 billion and 57.5 days a year, almost three working months.

Three working months

Three working months is a major chunk of lost productivity – a condition that ALL businesses have to accept, usually without realising it.

Assuming full time attendance, managements pay out annual salary packages to a Full Time Equivalent (FTE) of 2,080 hours – ie, 8-hour days at 5 days a week.

That’s not what they’re getting though. Thanks to varying degrees of illness, stress and pain, their actual FTEs are closer to 1,620 hours spread over the full 12 months.

460 hours are gone missing, never to come back. That’s worse than the average 31 hours a month lost in meetings (372 hours annually), or 520 hours a year lost in recovering from distractions.

Hold up, though. Meetings and distractions, it’s possible to do something about. Minimise them, or don’t have them at all.

But presenteeism is about the health of bodies – downers that affect human unit performances. With 460 hours gone missing, effectively 25% of all salaries are paid out to achieve zip.

Which is why most staff wellness plans achieve zip too. How can a package geared to diet, exercise, and lifestyle changes possibly address the more serious challenges of illness, stress and pain?

A pain in the…

OK, pain is difficult to counter. Perhaps ergonomics can soften the impact – a kneeler stool for backache, support panels, extra cushions. Visiting or in-house massage facilities can also help. Failing these, management and staffer have to accept a mutual level of reduced performance.

How about the rest?

Well stress, mental illness, call it what you will, needs time more than anything else.

Time for listening, time for being aware – and time to address possible resolutions.

Tick, tick

Already time, or not enough of it, is a major cause of workplace stress and anguish. Not enough hours in the day, always working late, weekends down the tubes, holidays cut short.

Add not enough sleep, and the always-on syndrome of emails and social networks intruding everywhere – and it’s hardly surprising emotional outbursts and irritable flare-ups suddenly happen.

Time also solves worry. The insidious feeling that eats up one’s insides and even triggers illness. Worries about relationships, finances, children, home issues, schooling, image and self-worth. Anguish about bereavements and self-confidence through the floorboards.

Give them time to be looked at, understood and shared. Time to be resolved between conflicting parties. Or simply time off to go and sort an issue – talk to the bank, consult a child’s teacher, visit a loved one in hospital.

Above all, cut the wheelspin – time lost after-hours because things aren’t organised to happen within the proper working day. If people are always working late, either something’s wrong, or there aren’t enough staff. Fix it.

Not feeling so good?

Which leaves illness. Being unwell at work – where most of the missing 460 hours are lost.

Expensive time this, multiplied by the number of employees. Yet amazingly, the least expensive to do anything about – and almost entirely recoverable.

How come?

Take a look at the typical workplace. Everybody all in the same place, right? Often open-plan, to unify them as a team, so they’re all right there on-the-spot, to network and inter-relate immediately.

Which is how so many illnesses happen. Because, like it or not, the average workplace is anything but a healthy environment to spend 8 hours a day in.

Everyday health hazard

Our own personal hygiene is not much better.

You’ve got it. A major cause of workplace illness is the workplace itself. Human assets unprotected from the germs that lurk there.

No germs, no problems

Which means take away the germs, and people can’t get ill any more. Not at work, at any rate. And with no germs around, it’s less easy to pick up bugs from each other too. With zero germ-level, viruses and bacteria have to work twice as hard to infect anybody.

And with no illnesses, the business gets most of its 460 hours back. Time already paid for, but now ready to finance relieving the pressures of stress and anguish.

Which where a decent staff wellness plan really scores.

By protecting staff health, effective FTEs increase from 1,620 hours back to a full 2,080.

Productivity for every employee UP BY NEARLY A THIRD.

And the price tag?

Well, what are you currently spending on office cleaning? £30 a day, £50?

Double that and you can sterilise the entire place every night. £30 a day for a return of – how many staff do you have? At a third of how many salaries? You do the math.

Oh, and if you feel sick about the figures, better sort out your staff wellness plan sharpish, before you come down with something worse.

About this blog

Back Off, Bacteria! is the blog of Hyper Hygiene Ltd, supplier of what we’re convinced is the most effective health protection system in the world. A fully mobile, all-automatic Hypersteriliser machine mists up workplaces with ionised hydrogen peroxide, spreading everywhere and eliminating all bacteria, viruses and fungi.

Hypersteriliser units are supplied to businesses and institutions across the UK, notably the haematology and other critical units at Salford Royal Hospital, Greater Manchester; Doncaster & Bassetlaw Hospital; South Warwickshire Hospital; Coventry & Warwickshire Hospital; and Queen Victoria Hospital, East Grinstead.

The Halo Hypersteriliser system achieves 6-log Sterility Assurance Level – 99.9999% of germs destroyed. It is the only EPA-registered dry mist fogging system – EPA No 84526-6. It is also EU Biocide Article 95 Compliant.

Staff health costs: big losses or huge gains?

Man climbing in
Climb into staff health properly – and you’ll never look back.
Photo by whereslugo on Unsplash

The more you look into it, staff health really is the difference between success and failure.

Yes, most of the time they’re doing OK, getting on with their jobs, keeping the wheels turning.

Except OK is not OK, is it?

OK is mediocre, ordinary, a non-competing nowhere.

Staff health for winners

You need them to be better. To be the champions. Winners at everything they do. To climb out of themselves and make you No 1.

But staff health is not where you start, is it? Not if you’re like most execs.

You’re thinking incentives and motivation. Going the extra mile, putting in more effort.

Rev them up enough and you can rule the world.

Sure, throw money at them and it’s possible. Bonuses, higher salaries, holiday expenses, the sky’s the limit.

Not good for the balance sheet though, without results to justify it. And stretching that far, staff see it for what it is – danger money.

The wellbeing imperative

Alright, so how about feelgood?

Easier on the balance sheet and makes you Mr Nice Guy.

Nice offices, comfortable furniture, soothing décor and a slew of extras for wellbeing. Gym membership, keep fit classes, weight-loss clinics, stop smoking groups, free medical check-ups, whatever shows you’re thinking of them.

Involvement would be good too. Get them to engage. Everybody’s in this together, sharing the road to a glorious destiny.

Nice thinking, but not about staff health is it?

More about souped-up performance. More commitment, longer hours, shorter weekends – the real price tag of the extra mile.

It’s the cliché of modern business. 18 hour days, always-on obsession, emails, social networks, the Internet – the non-stop work ethic.

No time for losers – or winners

Precisely where staff health takes a dive.

Because nobody, including you, can work without proper rest and downtime. To re-engage with family, friends and have a chance to be themselves. To feel what it is to be alive and free – away from the pressures of responsibility.

Eight hours a day is enough, mind and body need to recharge. Better than that, to unwind, relieve the tensions of the day – to relax, reset and reboot.

Without that balance, staff health quickly takes its toll.

Of course, nobody’s booking time off and taking to their bed. They’re not actually sick.

No, not actually – but partially.

Not enough sleep, they can’t concentrate so well. Tired and less resilient, fatigued bodies set them up for colds and flu. Rushed and missed meals make their systems glitch – gastric upsets, ulcers or worse.

Yes, they’re on deck and going for it, as committed as before. But focus is fuzzy, reactions are slowed, perceptions are blunted and reflexes not functioning.

Slow going

Sure, they’re still going the extra mile. Except now it takes longer, because heads aren’t quite right. More effort is needed, more mistakes get made, more things have to get done twice. Inevitably, everything costs more money.

And so it goes, day after day – staff health slowing you down and costing you money.

Except it doesn’t LOOK like that, because that’s how it always is.

Your staff – always over-keen, overstretched, overindulged, overworked. While inside they’re stressed, worried, lacking confidence and not feeling very well.

They are your Ferrari and you’re racing them untuned. Clogged injectors, carboned up manifolds, electronics out of adjustment – and you expect them to win.

Overlook staff health, and you really are for the pits.

Off-tune, off-song

Which is why being unwell at work costs ten times more than being absent and in bed.

Your prize performers are off-song and you’re paying for under-delivery.

57.5 days a year most staff are like that – almost three working months. At their desks, but going through the motions. Partially sick but pretending not to be. Or brazenly sneezing and toughing it out.

Either way, robbing you a quarter of a year’s worth of their capability.

Except it’s you robbing yourself, not putting staff health to the fore.

But what if it wasn’t like that?

Take Five

What if staff health was your No 1 priority – tuned and honed to top performance, ALL THE TIME?

For a start, you’d give them time. To be at ease and deliver their best, comfortably. No more stress, no more friction and relationships going south because there aren’t enough hours for care, consideration and patience.

No more physical illnesses either. They might all be a team and working on top of one another – but there’s no germs to spread, or lingering around. Any viruses or bacteria are eliminated after hours, by sterilising the place when everybody is relaxing.

Which is where staff health really starts paying dividends.

Feeling good and healthy, they really can be more revved up and committed. More bounce to the pounce – more capable of the extra mile, even inside normal business hours.

And guess what?

All about time

All it costs is time – which you were paying for anyway, remember those lost three months? Time, and a little effort making the place germ-free and safe – so your super-tuned thoroughbreds can perform without hazard.

Want more still?

Start thinking involvement and engagement all over again. And this time, watch it work.

About this blog

Back Off, Bacteria! is the blog of Hyper Hygiene Ltd, supplier of what we’re convinced is the most effective health protection system in the world. A fully mobile, all-automatic Hypersteriliser machine mists up workplaces with ionised hydrogen peroxide, spreading everywhere and eliminating all bacteria, viruses and fungi.

Hypersteriliser units are supplied to businesses and institutions across the UK, notably the haematology and other critical units at Salford Royal Hospital, Greater Manchester; Doncaster & Bassetlaw Hospital; South Warwickshire Hospital; Coventry & Warwickshire Hospital; and Queen Victoria Hospital, East Grinstead.

The Halo Hypersteriliser system achieves 6-log Sterility Assurance Level – 99.9999% of germs destroyed. It is the only EPA-registered dry mist fogging system – EPA No 84526-6. It is also EU Biocide Article 95 Compliant.

Burgers don’t make you fat – overeating does that

Morning exercise
A burger a day would be over-doing it – but a burger a week, whoever’s going to notice? Photo by Christopher Campbell on Unsplash

Lots of people eat a burger. And don’t get fat doing it.

They chow them down with enjoyment, and stay exactly the same size.

But burgers are bad for you, the nagging nannies insist. All that fat, all those carbohydrates.

Except lucky not-fat people aren’t impressed. And burgers aren’t so evil either.

A few burger facts

A straight McDonalds cheeseburger is 15 grams of protein, 12 grams of fat and 2 grams of fibre – 300 calories all up.

Stack that up alongside a good healthy Sunday roast with all the trimmings – Yorkshire pudding, potatoes, vegetables, gravy and stuffing – and the energy value comes in at around 565 calories.

Cross the road to Jamie’s posh Italian place and his designer burger on a toasted brioche bun with caramelised onions, crispy pancetta, Westcombe cheddar and totally decadent sauce weighs in at 1,387 calories – 2½ times the oomph of the roast – and 4½ times more than McDonalds!

Lots of people eat Jamie’s burgers too, and don’t get fat. They know when they’ve had enough and they’re satisfied.

Enough is enough

And that’s the secret. Stop eating when you’ve had enough, and extra inches don’t happen.

Your body tells you anyway. Starts feeling bloated and uncomfortable. Puts you off eating anything else until you’re back to normal.

But it’s not the same for fat people.

  • They don’t feel satisfied, so they keep going
  • Their bodies don’t tell them when they should stop
  • They wind up eating more than they need

Three personal disasters that normal, healthy bodies just don’t experience.

Which means something’s out of kilter. Somewhere, something’s wrong with their appetite control.

Appetite gone bananas

Because normal people just CAN’T overeat the way that fat people do.

Think back to the festive season only a few weeks ago. Try as we could, there was never any space for that extra helping of turkey or another piece of Christmas pud.

Which means it’s not burgers that are unhealthy – if they were, we’d ALL be dying like flies.

Except we’re not.

The unhealthy element is those poor overweight people – rapidly including the rest of us – who have a condition that’s doing them down. Only a few are gluttons, deliberately gobbling more than they should. The rest of us, like it or not, have a compulsive eating disorder that pushes us over the top.

And being fat is not nice.

On our way to fat

We try to control it and hate the way we look. We hate the way we feel too. The breathlessness and lack of strength, the constant strain of carrying all that weight around. Three stone overweight is like lumping a whole holiday suitcase everywhere.

As more and more of us are starting to know. Because right now two-thirds of UK adults and one-third of our kids are all overweight or obese – our numbers nudging steadily upwards over the last twenty years.

Told you so! say the nannies, threatening kale and pak choi. Something is definitely wrong.

Wrong, yes. And our medical experts do nothing about it.

Lots of wagging fingers and lectures about diet though. All that high energy food we eat, our couch-potato lifestyle and never any exercise, no wonder we’re all packing it on. We need discipline and control. And penalties for the error of our ways – fees for NHS treatment and deductions off our wages.

Medical fat shamers

J’accuse. One finger pointing, three fingers pointing back.

Because it’s not unhealthy eating that’s making us fat. Burgers don’t contain poison or noxious substances. We just eat too much of a good thing. Too much need-it-now, quick-satisfying, hunger-busting, high-energy food because we’re always famished. Eat, eat and overeat.

And why?

Because something in our bodies causes us to. Over-riding our natural balances and forcing us to overindulge. And it’s been getting worse over the last twenty years.

Out in the fat farms

Visit any of our Twenty-First Century factory mega-farms and you’ll see why. There are at least 800 of them out there, classified as intensive production units by the Environment Agency – shorthand for farms with more than 40,000 birds, 2,000 pigs or 750 breeding sows. All kept alive in crowded, severely challenged hygiene conditions by regular doses of antibiotics – at least that’s how the use of such drugs is justified.

Reality comes from the amazing side effect that antibiotics have – and which Big Agriculture has been steadily cashing in on for the last fifty years – snowballing in the last twenty.

Antibiotics make animals grow faster, fatter, bigger.

And guess what?

We’re animals too.

Fat-ernising all-round

We feed them, they feed us – and we’re all part of an antibiotic ingestion chain, regularly eating drip-drip doses of the most efficient growth boosters ever discovered.

And we wonder why we’re getting fat!

Truth is, via today’s supermarkets we get these growth boosters across the whole spectrum of things we eat. They’re in our meat, poultry and fish. And in our vegetables too – because manure from dosed animals is used to enhance plant crops – and leaches down into the water table, out to our streams and rivers.

Which means vegetarian nannies watch out! There are antibiotics in your pak choi too – ever noticed you’ve started nibbling two leaves instead of one?

So what’s to be done?

Oh, nothing much.

De-fat the world

Just a complete overhaul of our entire food system worldwide – which currently uses 240,000 tonnes of antibiotics every year.

Because either we get off antibiotics now, or we’ll all be fat and looking down the slippery slope to obesity, asthma, heart disease, cancer and a long, slow exit.

It’s not going to happen, is it? Too much inertia, too many vested interests, too much not wanting to face facts.

But it’s either that, or we each of us individually go cold turkey. Tighten our belts and just eat less. Or wear corsets. External gastric bands. It could even start a new fashion trend – especially if it makes us slimmer.

Walk a mile for a burger

It can be done though. If we’re strict enough with ourselves. Yours truly dropped 3½ stone in six months just by eating smaller meals, cutting out snacks and sticking to the two mile walk every day.

We’ll still be getting the antibiotics. But now we know, we can compensate for them.

And if our new slim selves enjoy the odd burger now and then, who’s going to know the difference? Enjoy!

About this blog

Back Off, Bacteria! is the blog of Hyper Hygiene Ltd, supplier of what we’re convinced is the most effective health protection system in the world. A fully mobile, all-automatic Hypersteriliser machine mists up workplaces with ionised hydrogen peroxide, spreading everywhere and eliminating all bacteria, viruses and fungi.

Hypersteriliser units are supplied to businesses and institutions across the UK, notably the haematology and other critical units at Salford Royal Hospital, Greater Manchester; Doncaster & Bassetlaw Hospital; South Warwickshire Hospital; Coventry & Warwickshire Hospital; and Queen Victoria Hospital, East Grinstead.

The Halo Hypersteriliser system achieves 6-log Sterility Assurance Level – 99.9999% of germs destroyed. It is the only EPA-registered dry mist fogging system – EPA No 84526-6. It is also EU Biocide Article 95 Compliant.

Executive no-brainer: staff unwell-at-work or boosted productivity?

Executive decision
Lose or win, it’s a no-brainer. Photo by Dane Deaner on Unsplash

It has to be the easiest decision ever. The ultimate no-brainer.

Absorb the costs of staff unwell at work and the mistakes they make. Or bank the bonus of staff always at full strength.

Lose-win. Game over, now let’s get back to business.

No-brainer. No contest. Sorted.

Well think of it.

Cost of unwellness

On the downside, there’s always unwellness, right?

Staff off sick, on average 6 days a year. Out of commish, off the grid – everybody doubles up or you bring in a temp. Kind of expensive if it’s one of your heavy-hitters out.

Except that’s not the half of it. At least off sick, you know where you stand. It’s when they DON’T go off sick but come to work anyway that’s the hiccup.

Like how unwell are they, really? 10% off the pace? 50%? 80%?

Even they don’t know till they have to step up. The moment of crisis on which everything hangs. Is their head all there, or is it loopy? Do they choose right or wrong? Have they heard correctly or jumbled it up? Will you lose a little, or a lot?

A no-brainer in itself, isn’t it?

Because you can’t really afford under-performing like that. Second-guessing all the time, not daring to take a chance. More liability than asset. Easier if they stayed home.

Hold that thought. That’s the no-brainer bit.

The no-brainer no-brainer

Can you really afford to have them at their desk, sick – as iffy maybe as a complete rookie?

Yes, they’re at work – but ill anyway. Wouldn’t you score more if they weren’t?

Sort of knocks staff discipline on the head, doesn’t it? At least the Nineteenth Century Dickens version of it. Heroes at their post, setting an example. When the truth of it is, they’re a loose cannon, blundering through the day – with more for you to put right than went wrong in the first place.

Another no-brainer. Send them home. No coming back until they’re fully on-song.

Which means you’d better spend some time finding out WHY they’re unwell. Because, do your sums and you’ll find EVERY team member is dragging their heels and off colour 57.5 days a year on average. Almost three working months.

Cost of faking it

Yes, they’re off six days a year with normal sick leave. And off the pace TEN TIMES that if you accept also-ran under-performance, sitting at their desks trying to fake they’re OK.

Uh, huh – so why?

Oh sure, the physical thing. Usually a respiratory or gastric disorder, two to three days of misery – and another two of shaky wheelspin after.

Gulp. Can you afford to give them that kind of time off?

Yet another no-brainer. What if that staffer was a Boeing captain – £350 million worth of aeroplane, 325 trusting souls, 6,000 miles and 10 hours to go, with cargo of £42 million?

Yes, well. To each in their own way, aren’t ALL your staff Boeing captains? They may only fly a spreadsheet, but if they crash and burn doing it?

More serious illnesses than that and you’ll want them to take time off anyway. You can’t run the risk of losing your team permanently.

All in the mind

But maybe it’s not physical at all. Something emotional taking over their spirit. Mental anguish as crippling as any injury. Deep down and personal, but no less real. Like stress, the dreaded black dog most of us meet, sooner or later.

It’s a no-brainer they need time too. To escape and heal. Or to get away and deal with their monsters.

Because they ARE monsters inside their head, larger than life so they can’t think or see straight. Bereavements, financial worries, relationships in trouble, being bullied, low self-esteem, feelings of inadequacy, job insecurity, peer group pressure, social media trolling.

Fail to address them, and your business will fail too. Because nobody can function, trailing that kind of baggage.

Which means time for you to listen, reassure and understand. Time for you to give away, so they can get outside and fix things – 57.5 days of it. To go to the school meeting, consult the sex counsellor, stay home for the delivery, get the car in for MOT before the DVLA closes in.

OK, so what does all this giving time away do?

Time to heal

Make everybody feel better, back to being whole again, everything back to normal. Worth its weight in gold, right? No-brainer there too.

And here’s another one to keep it company. The biggest no-brainer of all.

You know how offices are germ-infested hellholes? Sure you do, all of them, including yours. Every week when news is scarce, the magazines and tabloids are full of it.

Well, what if there were no germs at all? No viruses, no bacteria, no fungi. No nasties for anyone to catch.

Safe and secure

There’d be no-one of sick then, would there? And no-one sitting at their desk, feeling like death. Everyone would be happy and well and raring to go. Revved up and ready for anything. Committed, motivated and inspired by you.

Because you had the savvy to sterilise the place – no more becoming unwell at work. And you gave them time to ease their stress – no more fretting themselves into an ulcer or some kind of a breakdown.

Revved up and going for it, what could be better? And with all their problems magiced away, overnight you’ve got 57.5 days back. Three working months you’ve been paying for all this time- and now suddenly, they’re yours.

Can’t beat that for productivity – a no-brainer all the way.

About this blog

Back Off, Bacteria! is the blog of Hyper Hygiene Ltd, supplier of what we’re convinced is the most effective health protection system in the world. A fully mobile, all-automatic Hypersteriliser machine mists up workplaces with ionised hydrogen peroxide, spreading everywhere and eliminating all bacteria, viruses and fungi.

Hypersteriliser units are supplied to businesses and institutions across the UK, notably the haematology and other critical units at Salford Royal Hospital, Greater Manchester; Doncaster & Bassetlaw Hospital; South Warwickshire Hospital; Coventry & Warwickshire Hospital; and Queen Victoria Hospital, East Grinstead.

The Halo Hypersteriliser system achieves 6-log Sterility Assurance Level – 99.9999% of germs destroyed. It is the only EPA-registered dry mist fogging system – EPA No 84526-6. It is also EU Biocide Article 95 Compliant.

Our blundering obesity crisis: why junk food & sugary drinks were NEVER the cause

Dont take my Coke
Obesity, what obesity? We never used to be fat in the Fifties – what’s everyone talking about?

So what is this junk food stuff, exactly?

Unhealthy? Bad for you?

Gives you high blood pressure? Makes you swell up and burst?

A McDonalds McDouble, for instance.

If it’s so bad, how come it’s been called ‘the cheapest, most nutritious and bountiful food that has ever existed in human history’?

The good bad stuff

Wow, that’s seriously bad.

Bad because it’s good. So good that the McDonalds people force you at gunpoint to have two at once. And if you don’t eat them, you die of lead poisoning.

Eating two of course, is more than your body needs. Keep going like that and no wonder we’re all fat like two-thirds of us are.

Which is the reality of course.

It’s not “junk food” that makes us fat. It’s eating too much of the stuff.

Too much of those cheap , nutrition-rich, hunger-busting fast foods that are everybody’s on-the-go favourite. Grab ’em and eat ’em, just as you like – burgers, hot dogs, fish & chips, pizza, kebabs, sliders, sandwiches – they all fill you up in minutes.

Same thing with Coke. Buy two, or the Coca-Cola people will chase you down the street with a knife. Make that the two-litre bottle, they’re not playing around. And drinking that much in one go will make you fat too.

And there’s the proof, see? That junk food will be the death of us. At least so says the latest report by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Child Health.

Nice try, but not true.

Overeating compulsion

If it were, we’d have all been fat decades ago. From 1940, when the first McDonalds opened. Or 1892, when Coca-Cola started.

Sure, there were fat people around then, but not like there are now. Back in those days, most of us were slim. Thin as a rake, and pretty with it.

Same thing in the 50s. And the 60’s. The 70s, the 80’s and even the 90’s.

We ate fast food in those days too. And drank Coke. Yet somehow we never got fat. The typical British male was just over 5ft 7in tall, weighed 11st 6lbs, had a chest of 37 inches, a waist of 34 inches, wore size seven shoes and had a collar size of 14.

Sound fat to you?

Yes, we guzzled the stuff and enjoyed it. But never too much, like we do now.

So what’s different? What’s the CAUSE? What’s suddenly making us eat too much in the last twenty years?

“Ooh , er… lifestyle” say the medics, clutching at straws.

What, we didn’t have telly in those days? No Corrie, no Fawlty Towers, no Dr Who, no Steptoe?

And we didn’t have computers? No Atari, no Amstrad, no Apple, no Commodore Vic?

Alongside McDonalds and Coke and all the others of course?

Either that’s porkies, or the wrong end of the stick.

And since the Royal College would NEVER be anything but upright and honest, it has to be the stick thing.

So what’s happened in the last twenty years to make us eat too much now?

The awful answer

Ask the medics, because they already know the answer. They just don’t want to face the consequences of living with it.

There’s a whole INDUSTRY of making bodies eat too much. It’s worldwide too, in every modern country.

It’s called growth promoting, and it’s used in food production everywhere you can think of.

It started slow at first, a side effect of the miracle breakthrough of the Twentieth Century, antibiotics. Researchers found that small doses, fed regularly to livestock, caused them to bulk up and develop at lightning speed compared to ordinary farm animals.

Bingo!

Scientists weren’t sure WHY it happened, they only knew it did. Something that accelerated the body’s “I’m hungry” ghrelin hormone and suppressed the “I’ve had enough” leptin one.

Farmers couldn’t believe their luck. And with world population rocketing from 2½ billion back in the 50s to the 7½ billion we are now, they didn’t hang about. All those people needed feeding, and how. Boom time!

Growth boosters worldwide

OK, it took a while to get organised. Farms were small in the 50s, family-run businesses, unchanged for generations. Big money changed all that. First, broiler houses for chickens, factory farms on an industrial scale – and latest, the big-bucks CAFOs, Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations.

ALL of them shovelling in antibiotics like it was going out of fashion. 240,000 tonnes of them every year, worldwide. Poultry, cattle, sheep, pigs, fish – everything. Plant crops and vegetables too. Fertilised by manure from those same animals.

Growth boosters, get it? Ghrelin ON, leptin OFF. Eat, eat, eat, stop messing about.

So guess what? Just about every food type in your supermarket became laced through with the most successful growth booster ever invented. And we gobble them, mini-dose by mini-dose with every mouthful. Turning on our own ghrelin and turning off our own leptin.

Eat, eat and overeat – because our bodies HAVE too. The junk food myth.

Which means a fat lot of good sugar tax and banning fast food adverts in TV is going to achieve. Like tax on cigarettes never stopped smokers – and tax on alcohol never stopped boozers – us fatties are going to keep munching anyway, no matter how hard the Royal College try to stop us.

Not that they will. Their view on antibiotics is firmly fixed in another direction – antimicrobial resistance. Because of overuse and abuse of antibiotics for anything and everything, bacteria are increasingly becoming immune to our miracle life-savers.

Which puts modern medicine in total jeopardy. Just about every major medical procedure is rapidly becoming impossible because the antibiotics don’t work. No less a person than Dr Dame Sally Davies, England’s Chief Medical Officer, has voiced that we are poised at a new Dark Ages.

Antibiotics resistance

No more heart transplants, hip replacements or caesarean births – in our lifetime we could any of us die from a paper cut.

None of which helps obesity – which is its own road to a slow and unpleasant death. Asthma, limb amputations, heart disease and cancer are all waiting in follow-up. And two-thirds of us are already on the way.

Yes, we can give up antibiotics. Stop eating the foods that contain them, like the all-natural, organic brigade. Not just the junk food but everything. Expensive – but doable.

But then we’ll need to up our game on hygiene. Because the only way to stay healthy will be to avoid germs altogether. Wash hands all the time, sterilise everything – stay out of trouble before it starts. Doable – and NOT expensive. We just need to overcome our laziness.

There’s only one problem. There’s 5 billion more of us than there were back in the 50s. We still need the 19 billion chickens, 1.4 billion cattle, 1 billion pigs and 1 billion sheep that currently feed us – and the antibiotics that keep them alive as well as fatten them. Forced production farming is so intensive, animals live on top of each other in appalling hygiene conditions.

Nope, we can’t all eat organic. There’s not enough land or produce to sustain us.

Our glorious end

Maybe all those big mouth politicians with their nuclear button-pressing threats have the answer. One press and foops! We don’t have to worry any more.

What was that Peter Sellers movie? Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. Appropriately, to quote Col. Bat Guano: “You’re gonna have to answer to the Coca-Cola company.”

 

About this blog

Back Off, Bacteria! is the blog of Hyper Hygiene Ltd, supplier of what we’re convinced is the most effective health protection system in the world. A fully mobile, all-automatic Hypersteriliser machine mists up workplaces with ionised hydrogen peroxide, spreading everywhere and eliminating all bacteria, viruses and fungi.

Hypersteriliser units are supplied to businesses and institutions across the UK, notably the haematology and other critical units at Salford Royal Hospital, Greater Manchester; Doncaster & Bassetlaw Hospital; South Warwickshire Hospital; Coventry & Warwickshire Hospital; and Queen Victoria Hospital, East Grinstead.

The Halo Hypersteriliser system achieves 6-log Sterility Assurance Level – 99.9999% of germs destroyed. It is the only EPA-registered dry mist fogging system – EPA No 84526-6. It is also EU Biocide Article 95 Compliant.

Why corporate wellness programmes won’t save you from the flu

Exec surrounded by germs
Wellness is not the issue – start thinking illness prevention

The usual pitch for wellness programmes is to advance employee health.

That’s if you believe the glossy brochure.

Ask any bean-counter and you’ll get one of two answers.

In the US, a wellness plan is about reducing insurance costs that underwrite employee healthcare.

The UK is closer to the mark, where a wellness plan aims to slash absenteeism.

Wellness or money?

Not really health-related at all, either of them. More geared to pushing productivity.

Work harder, work longer – here’s a bribe to persuade you.

Most staff would probably prefer more money. But if the feelgood perks are dishing out, sure why not?

Just don’t expect protection from illness – that’s not on the radar.

People get sick, it happens. That’s their lookout, not their employer’s.

Besides, KEEPING well is easier to handle than illness – that’s what doctors and hospitals are for.

Which is why pretty well all wellness programmes avoid it like the plague.

  • Health risk assessments, check
  • Weight loss incentives, check
  • Screenings for blood pressure, weight, height and BMI, check
  • Fitness classes, check
  • Gym membership, check
  • Stop smoking groups, check
  • Lifestyle coaching, check
  • Flu shots, check

Wait a minute, flu shots! We’re talking rubbish, right?

Real world perspective

Well no, because against this year’s virus particularly, flu shots are only 20% effective. And we’re up against FOUR types of flu, not one – H3N2, H1N1, B/Yamagata and B/Victoria.

Plus flu is not the only bug to knock us flat on our backs.

What about norovirus, the winter vomiting bug? Or all the other gastric nasties – salmonella, campylobacter, e.coli and c.difficile? What do wellness programmes do to stop any of them?

For Pete’s sake, they even encourage them!

Ever heard of gym germs?

According to Fitness Magazine, “Gyms are hotbeds of germ activity, researchers say.” All that sweat and gasping breath. Just the place to pick up colds and flu, norovirus, staphylococcus, streptococcus, MRSA, athlete’s foot, hepatitis, take your pick.

Some wellness programme! And who’s going to believe you got sick in the gym?

Unhealthy workplace

Meanwhile, the average office isn’t much better.

There’s another thing about wellness programmes. We all get signed up, and then we have to DO something to make them work. Actually go to the gym classes – in our own time of course, lunch or after work – never office hours.

Same thing with the health checks, the smoking clinics and everything else. Busy-body employers, who do they think they are?

We’re lazy at a personal level too. Unthinking and unobservant. Which makes us our own worst enemies.

How can we get revved up about a wellness programme when we can’t even help ourselves?

Wellness, schmellness

Which means for any kind of plan to work, it has to assume we do nothing.

We arrive for the nine-to-five thing, sit there like a sack of potatoes and it all has to happen around us. Laying a guilt trip on us because two-thirds of us are fat isn’t going to crack it.

And anyway, if we DO go to the gym, it takes six months before any of that flab visibly comes off.

No, no. Any SERIOUS wellness programme just has to happen. Like in the background while we’re not looking. HEPA filters in the aircon maybe, taking out the germs – fine until the penny drops that most germs are too small to be caught.

How about the nightly cleaning brigade? Mop and buckets, plenty of bleach – problem sorted. Except the bleach stinks, so everybody has a headache – and the rub and scrub never gets to the hideaways where germs wait to grab us.

Nope, nope and nope. For a wellness programme to work, it has to prevent illness.

Which means getting rid of three things:

  • Germs
  • Stress
  • Pain

Germs are easy. Sterilise the entire place on a regular basis, so there aren’t any. No germs, no illness – sorted.

Stress is more difficult. People clam up when it’s personal – emotions and worry going round and round. Which takes listening, understanding and lots of time to get right.

Tick, tick

Except time is suddenly something you have a lot of. Because there’s no germs, people are at their desks more. They’re feeling better about it too – without the nagging off-colour complaints that ALL of us go through every three days or so.

All adding up to the 57.5 days of being at work but unwell with it – not able to concentrate properly, making mistakes and dragging our heels through the day.

Yes, time. Time to talk and reach out. To relate and demonstrate concern. To take off and sort out the circling monsters that bring work to a halt – child care, finances, relationships, bereavement, accidents and personal responsibilities. Make the stress go away and there’s more time than ever.

Which leaves pain.

Not much you can do against something this physical. Bones and muscles out of whack. Cramps, injuries, spasms.

Unless you give away time for this too.

Time for physiotherapy, massage and heat treatment. Maybe even at the office if it helps. Rescue sessions on the spot to ease the agony and up the commitment to perform. All paid for out of the time reclaimed from getting rid of stress and germs.

So wellness programmes, get real.

Start thinking illness prevention.

About this blog

Back Off, Bacteria! is the blog of Hyper Hygiene Ltd, supplier of what we’re convinced is the most effective health protection system in the world. A fully mobile, all-automatic Hypersteriliser machine mists up workplaces with ionised hydrogen peroxide, spreading everywhere and eliminating all bacteria, viruses and fungi.

Hypersteriliser units are supplied to businesses and institutions across the UK, notably the haematology and other critical units at Salford Royal Hospital, Greater Manchester; Doncaster & Bassetlaw Hospital; South Warwickshire Hospital; Coventry & Warwickshire Hospital; and Queen Victoria Hospital, East Grinstead.

The Halo Hypersteriliser system achieves 6-log Sterility Assurance Level – 99.9999% of germs destroyed. It is the only EPA-registered dry mist fogging system – EPA No 84526-6. It is also EU Biocide Article 95 Compliant.

What’s your crisis plan for Aussie flu, or other business health threat?

Send hime home
Hope for the best, plan for the worst. Send anyone infected home.

Your plan had better be good. Once these things get started, they go round like wildfire.

Half your office, out in one go. A whole team, down for weeks.

And just maybe a law suit, because you didn’t protect your team enough.

Plan, or else

Sure, flu jabs. Except it’s common knowledge this year’s vaccine is only 20% effective against the killer H3N2 strain. Lots of refusals from people who don’t want stuff injected into their bodies if it isn’t going to work.

What if it’s not Aussie flu, but the Japanese B / Yamagata strain – and the vaccine’s not available yet?

Or not flu at all, but some other illness that snuck in while everyone was looking elsewhere?

Can’t plan for everything? Quite true, you can’t – there’s no controlling anything your team might have picked up outside.

But again it’s common knowledge most offices are germ factories. Everybody all close together in the same space. Exposed to each other for hours, touching the same things, breathing the same air.

Just one person comes down with something and the ripple effect can last for months. Round and round, infecting and re-infecting each other. Enough to bring the whole business down, how do you plan for that?

You HAVE got a plan, right?

Not just flu

Like if it’s legionnaire’s disease, protecting your team is legally part of your duty of care. Not a virus, but a bacteria – legionella pneumophila. As its name suggests, an illness very much like pneumonia, which is where H3N2 can lead to if it gets out of control. And pneumonia is deadly – killing 50 million people back in 1918, the world’s worst ever epidemic.

But yes, legionnaire’s disease. One of a list of about 30 diseases you are legally required to shield your team from. It breeds in water systems and air conditioning units, but is breathed in from the air.

Gloss over taking precautions and the Health & Safety people will be all over you – a £1 million fine for Stoke-on-Trent based JTF Wholesale last year. Enough to put you out of business.

Getting sued of course is only part of it. Which is why having a plan is so crucial. What does it do to your business to have a load of people out of action all at once? And how do you contain infection from the handful you have left, holding the fort?

A big thanks to all our readers

This post today is our 500th  since we started, appropriately enough with How I Survived When Germs Killed My Business. Thank you for your support and interest, it’s people like you who keep us alive.

If nothing else, make your plan insist on one thing.

First sign of anyone being the slightest bit unwell, SEND THEM HOME.

They’re useless to you at work anyway – unable to concentrate, fighting an uphill battle with their bodies, spreading contagion to everyone else.

SEND THEM HOME and don’t let them log on either. They need to get better – and worrying about work stuff is only going to delay that. Paracetamol, rest – and at worst, mindless daytime television are about all they’re capable of handling. Let them be.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, you’ve got some rear-guarding to do.

Time for Plan B

Because the smitten ones might be gone, but not the germs they leave behind. And germs can survive in warm centrally-heated offices for weeks at a time.

Some of them might be airborne, swirled around in the continuously circulating air. Others lurk on surfaces, waiting to infect – on high-touch objects like keypads, touchscreens, light switches and control buttons. On all the other things people use too – documents, pens, keys, money, phones, handbags, wallets, clothing.

Better get your cleaning service on it, Priority One. Not just a wipe-down, but a deep clean. Give it the works, to take out everything that might hit you, not just Aussie flu.

Norovirus for instance gets everywhere and keeps bouncing back if not clobbered hard enough. The violent vomiting it causes is not just gruesome, it deliberately spreads tiny particles of itself everywhere, every little crack and crevice. Miss any out and it’ll be back, surer than Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Better still, not just a deep clean but actually sterilise the place. Make it so that all germs are gone completely. No Aussie flu, no legionnaire’s disease, no norovirus, no nothing – the only way to make 100% sure your team don’t catch anything.

Other than that, sit tight and wait for everybody to get better.

Kick in that other plan you have too. The one for dire emergencies. Like what to do when your building has a fire, a power-out loses your data, or floods stop you getting near for few months. If you need to know how to set one up, Newcastle City Council have a blueprint right here.

Good luck with everything. See you in summer when this is all over.

About this blog

Back Off, Bacteria! is the blog of Hyper Hygiene Ltd, supplier of what we’re convinced is the most effective health protection system in the world. A fully mobile, all-automatic Hypersteriliser machine mists up workplaces with ionised hydrogen peroxide, spreading everywhere and eliminating all bacteria, viruses and fungi.

Hypersteriliser units are supplied to businesses and institutions across the UK, notably the haematology and other critical units at Salford Royal Hospital, Greater Manchester; Doncaster & Bassetlaw Hospital; South Warwickshire Hospital; Coventry & Warwickshire Hospital; and Queen Victoria Hospital, East Grinstead.

The Halo Hypersteriliser system achieves 6-log Sterility Assurance Level – 99.9999% of germs destroyed. It is the only EPA-registered dry mist fogging system – EPA No 84526-6. It is also EU Biocide Article 95 Compliant.

Why you CAN afford to let staff pull a sickie

Moneybags Boss 2
Handling a sickie right – you should be saving money, not losing it

What kind of sickie, fake or real?

And for a genuine cause, or is that a load of porkies too?

Because, you may not know this, but you’ve already written off the cost. It’s already paid, so it’s not like you’re out of pocket.

Your people investment

Kinda nice to have the background, though. To know that your investment is properly justified.

Huh? Already paid? Investment?

Sure. Written off, right? You’ve paid, or you’re about to.

It comes out of salaries, like every sickie does – real, as well as fake.

And you’re paying for a lot more besides.

Like all the times staff would like to pull a sickie, but don’t dare:

  1. They’re sick alright, but they’ve pulled one sickie too many, and now their job’s at risk.
  2. They’re too embarrassed or scared to ask about something, so come to work anyway.
  3. They’re hiding a real problem, and they don’t want anyone to know.
  4. They’re genuinely sick, but don’t reckon it’s bad enough to stay away.
  5. They’re genuinely sick, and don’t want to burden colleagues with extra work.
  6. They’re genuinely sick, but dread the reality of being home alone.
  7. They’re genuinely sick, but want to stop their rivals getting ahead of them.

Each one a non-sickie, yes? Because they’re at work.

The price of sickies-on-the-job

So the reality is, you’re now lumbered with sickies-on-the-job – and you’re paying for those too.

Because they’re at their desks, all present and correct – but not in proper shape to handle their work effectively. Feeling grim as all hell and going through the motions.

Under-powered and not really concentrating, what sort of work quality are they capable of delivering? And if their mind’s not fully on the job, how many errors are they making, or simply not recognising? At what cost?

Better the job’s not done at all if it’s botched. Plus you pay for it twice to get it right – and it takes twice as long. Where’s the economy in that?

Presenteeism, it’s called. About as much use to you as if they’d stayed home anyway.

And get this. On average, everyone on the payroll goes through it 57.5 days a year – including you. Ten times the number of days most people book off sick – almost three working months.

Never mind if every instance is kosher or not – the fact is, at the moment when it happens staff are not up to the job, even though they’re present. Unproductive and costing you money.

Affects everybody

And it’s not always your veteran skiver with a massive hangover every Monday either.  It’s just as likely to be your hot graduate newcomer, falling apart inside because her boyfriend dumped her. Or your IT whizz-kid in a blue funk about his gambling debts. Or your rock-steady accounts lady, trying to hide running to the loo every five minutes with some tummy bug.

Often illnesses, always issues. Some of them so big, they take over the whole person. Because we’re human and not always perfect – needing constant attention to keep ourselves functioning. Just look for the signs – fatigue, unusual temper, sudden changes in emotion, behaviour and appearance.

We’re not always on top form either. Like for instance, each of us has something that ails us about every three days. Headaches, back pain, stomach cramps, coughing like crazy. Or every cold and flu bug that goes around, a paper cut that goes septic, period pains, and the inevitable virus.

All of which prevents staff from doing their job properly. And all of which you pay for. The glitches and mistakes – and the salaries of course.

Twelve months’ salaries, nine months’ work

TWELVE MONTH salaries. Out of which your expectation is to get twelve months’ productivity.

Except presenteeism robs you of it – subtracts three working months’ worth for everybody on the payroll.

So whatever salaries you’re paying are effectively only nine months’ worth.

Which is why you can afford to indulge staff who pull a sickie. You’ve got 57.5 days you can afford to give away anyway – before making losses on REAL staff costs. 57.5 days with which to soothe their anguish, ease their worries – and establish your reputation as the most caring boss in the country.

Because count on it, most reasons for pulling a sickie are for genuine issues – staff just assume they’ll never be accepted. Aside from the lazy ones who can’t get motivated after holidays and weekends – and without strong commitment or enthusiasm for the job, who needs them anyway? One or two duvet days is OK – but after that, take a hike.

Super-boss

Anyway, granting time off because you can puts you in a different league. You’re a boss who understands and has staff interests at heart. Never mind going the extra mile, you’ll have them eating out of your hand.

Look at it from their point of view. So how DO you explain that Argos say they’ll deliver some time between 8.00 am and 5.00 pm – which means hanging around like a spare part or the goods get stolen? And how easily it’s fixed by taking the laptop and working from home.

How much better do you feel that you can attend Aunt Bessie’s funeral and carry the flag for your side of the family so the in-laws don’t get sniffy?

Or better still, that you can go for the knee op – and take proper time to convalesce – not hobble round like a peg-leg pirate for the rest of your life?

Time for your staff is the most valuable motivator you can have. And every business has the opportunity to deploy it – a whole new dimension to your duty of care.

Inspired, motivated, committed

Suddenly working for you becomes sought after and special – a valuable recruitment plus and retention advantage. The trick now as Mr Nice Guy is to coax back as many of those 57.5 days as you can to bump up productivity.

Flexible working is a great start – particularly as some staff may have a commute of two hours or more – and this week there are further delays on East Anglia / Virgin / South East / Thameslink. Besides, coping with sick kids gets easier when operating hours aren’t rigid and people can log in remotely at two in the morning.

Just make sure every issue is properly discussed and reviewed afterwards. If you’re giving time away it has to have value, be appreciated as a privilege, given proper respect.

And you can claw back more time by racking up workplace wellness.

No, no, not the feelgood bribes of gym membership, fitness clinics, stop smoking groups and diet classes. Yes, they work, but they don’t win back time.

We mean REAL workplace wellness – actually making the place safer and healthier from any illnesses caught from the office environment or from colleagues.

It’s dead easy too – and not expensive. Add sterilising the office to your regular evening cleaning sessions and there are no illnesses to catch.

Once again you’ve proved to staff you have their interests at heart, making the place pleasant to work in and safe from germs.

Now who would want to pull a sickie after that?

About this blog

Back Off, Bacteria! is the blog of Hyper Hygiene Ltd, supplier of what we’re convinced is the most effective health protection system in the world. A fully mobile, all-automatic Hypersteriliser machine mists up workplaces with ionised hydrogen peroxide, spreading everywhere and eliminating all bacteria, viruses and fungi.

Hypersteriliser units are supplied to businesses and institutions across the UK, notably the haematology and other critical units at Salford Royal Hospital, Greater Manchester; Doncaster & Bassetlaw Hospital; South Warwickshire Hospital; Coventry & Warwickshire Hospital; and Queen Victoria Hospital, East Grinstead.

The Halo Hypersteriliser system achieves 6-log Sterility Assurance Level – 99.9999% of germs destroyed. It is the only EPA-registered dry mist fogging system – EPA No 84526-6. It is also EU Biocide Article 95 Compliant.