Disabled is the only way to describe it.
Because, come down with the mother and father of all colds and no-one’s capable of anything.
So why hang around at work, pretending?
Head like boiled knitting, concentration shot to pieces, miserable as sin, and highly infectious.
Sounds like disabled to us.
Disabled and incapable
And that’s just for a cold. Much worse with shigella, e.coli or a staph infection. Or really serious illnesses like meningitis, bronchitis or pneumonia.
They all feel the same when they start – lousy all over, temperature, splitting head, nausea. Exactly what’s needed in a high-powered sales meeting, or a customer query on the phone.
Possibly doing more damage in ten seconds than most business calamities. A million miles away from the slick professional who usually handles the job.
So yes, every bit as disabled as anyone confined to a wheelchair.
Only worse, because at least wheelchair people know their limitations – and there’s seldom anything wrong with their brain. They’re more motivated too, more aware of critical scrutiny and any threat to job security.
But able-bodied people unwell at work are avoiding reality – for themselves as well as you. Kidding themselves that they ARE up to the mark. Everyone else is at their desk, putting in the hours, they’re not going to be found wanting.
Except by their very actions they are – dragging themselves into the office, sitting there suffering while they go through the motions. Your hottest assets, suddenly instant liabilities.
Which means – even though he was talking through his hat – the Chancellor was right in saying that disabled people impact productivity measurements. He just had the WRONG disabled people.
Three months lost, every year
And there’s plenty of evidence.
In last year’s Insight report by Global Corporate Challenge (now Virgin Pulse) – a study involving nearly 2,000 employees and validated against the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Workplace Health and Productivity Questionnaire (HPQ) – workers confessed to being unproductive on the job for 57.5 days each – almost three working months.
So the average employee is only productive nine months of the year, not twelve. For the remaining three months they’re disabled at their desks, not delivering the skills and expertise they were hired for. Determined, but still soldiering on. Living demonstration of how productivity goes for a loop.
And what’s the price of this disabled work?
Possibly too enormous to calculate, though here’s a good try. Mistakes are not always minor and omissions not always easy to excuse. One unguarded moment by a key team member can mean absolute disaster – productivity zero, and the end of the business.
Engagement and duty of care
All of which suggests it’s time for a serious look for how management values human capital. And the realism with which Britain looks at the productivity puzzle. Future investment is one thing – but what are we doing about illnesses that RETARD three month’s worth of our productivity every year – at a cost of £319 billion?
If nothing else, flexible working is an immediate fix, achievable right now, today.
Job One for any management is duty of care to staff. Of which a top priority by law is protecting them from hazards to their health – including biological agents (bacteria and other micro-organisms)… if the exposure is incidental to the work. Official recognition that coughs and sneezes spread diseases.
So never mind what the policy or discipline issues are – if staff aren’t well, SEND THEM HOME.
Flexible working is the right of every employee, which includes working from home – a good quarantine defence for the rest of the team from the one who’s ailing. And these days, with everyone connected by laptop or tablet, does it really make a difference if they’re not at their desks anyway?
Handling illness and stress
That is of course, if the team member is capable of working – not disabled by whatever bug has triggered the issue in the first place. With most jobs needing a high degree of focus and concentration, it’s best to think in black and white. Either they’re well enough to do their job, or they’re not.
There’s no place for grey – what organisation can afford the mistakes a temporarily disabled person inevitably is going to make? Not well means not well – and they are better off out of it – grounded from work until they are better.
Flexible working in any case solves other issues that may stress staff into being disabled – easing the image of disciplinarian bosses who don’t give a damn and penalise staff for not being in attendance.
Most staff are dedicated enough, but it’s hard to show commitment when life’s daily challenges get in the way. Juggling them against the job easily causes worry which impacts productivity – disabled by stress when flexible working could solve it.
Train delays for instance, are a fact of life in the South East. It could be a strike, leaves on the line or the wrong kind of sunshine – being repeatedly late for work piles up unnecessary black marks, so easily remedied by logging in remotely on the days when they happen.
Worth their weight in gold
Likewise, time off to sort family and personal issues.
Frowned at by strict management, but worth their weight in gold to grateful staff who stress about them. Going to the doctor, confronting a child’s school about bullying, getting the car fixed, sorting out finances. Who cares if staff log on at two in the morning, as long as the work gets done on time?
Worth their weight in gold to management too – as the accounting and legal sector demonstrate. Flexible working contributes to their productivity being the highest in the country. Calculated by the ONS at an output of £68.10 per hour – more than double the national average of £32.20.
Meanwhile, how about the CAUSE of temporarily disabled staff so seriously retarding productivity?
Being unwell at work is one thing – a bug can be picked up anywhere. But with most staff working together and sharing the same space upwards of eight hours a day, becoming unwell at work is a much more likely possibility.
Sharing the same space, breathing the same air, touching the same things. And all the time exposed to each other’s germs, and the germs riding around every one of us. As out of sight and invisible as the air they float in, sound waves, ideas – and modern day intangibles like cryptocurrency.
1½ days less than the Germans
Get rid of the germs, and Britain’s productivity jumps from nine months a year to a full twelve – a thundering boost out of the blue of 33%. What other country in the world can match that achievement – not by pressing on the accelerator, but by simply releasing the brakes?
And it’s easy too. Right now, any organisation can eliminate all germs daily in as little as 40 minutes. No germs means no more infections, no more unwell at work, no more temporarily disabled staff.
Forget British workers taking an extra day to match the Germans for weekly productivity. Press the sterilising button and we’ll be finished in 1½ days LESS.
So there Klaus, stick that in your haffenpfaffenpfeife and smoke 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. Achieves 6-log Sterility Assurance Level – 99.9999% of germs destroyed. The only EPA-registered dry mist fogging system – EPA No 84526-6. EU Biocide Article 95 Compliant.