Category Archives: Germonomics

33% more productivity for less than £30 a day, easy-peasy

No germs exec
All that money you never knew you were losing – you’ve got it back with interest for under £30 a day

Amazing, but very possible. And for less than £30 a day.

About what you’d pay for your Mrs Mop cleaning service.

Probably less if you have a dozen or more staff – all those desks and floor space.

Which makes this a productivity health hack most other CEOs would kill for.

Especially if they knew how easy and inexpensive it was.

Broken and not on the radar

Well, who wouldn’t want 33% MORE productivity without paying an arm and a leg?

So simple the way it works too.

Just by getting rid of germs.

Not something that’s on your radar usually, is it? Or something that you think of doing.

A why fix it if it ain’t broke sort of thing.

But it IS broke.

And without pro-active prevention, the way it gets handled is re-active correction.

If it’s handled at all. Because nobody’s ill right now, so the usual thing is do nothing.

Which basically means if staff fall ill, that’s their problem.

You’re sympathetic of course, but you just accept it. And so do they.

Luck of the draw. Happens all the time, right? Some bug hits them, they go see the Doc, get put on meds, possibly need hospital. From your point of view, an HR asset out of action for a while.

Or heroically toughing it out and coming in to work anyway. Committed, loyal, one of your star performers.

But either way, costing a lot more than £30 a day.

What’s that?

Surely it doesn’t cost anything at all?

Losing hand over fist

Oh yes, it does. And it’s money you lose every time. Either in hard cash or in lost productivity.

For starters, if they’re absent, you’re losing around £87 a day – more than double the £30 a day we’re rabbiting on about.

That’s not our figure, it’s the CIPD’s (Chartered Institute of Personnel Development).

In their annual Absenteeism Management report they calculate that most team members take 6 days sick leave a year at an average cost of £522, or £87 a day. (For the public sector, it’s £835, or £92.77 a day over 9 days)

Not a consideration because you don’t pay sick leave? Better think again.

That’s what they cost in taking up the slack while they’re gone. Other team members on extra hours, delay penalties, temp staff – sometimes a lot more than £87.

Not a lot of money in the great scheme of things. No alarm bells, nothing to lose sleep over. So it winds up in whatever slush fund you’re running for eventualities – or more often, buried as petty cash.

But that’s not where it ends. Because unwell team members coming in to work (presenteeism) cost 10 times more – £5,220.

Why? Because being unwell at work occurs 10 times more than taking off sick – 57.5 days a year on average, almost 3 working months.

Not getting your money’s worth

And during that time your slick qualified professional is just a shadow of themselves, feeling grim as all hell and going through the motions. Chances are also high that if it’s anything contagious, other team members will go down with it too.

Which is way worse than an HR asset out of action. At least if a staffer is off sick, you can arrange a substitute. But unwell-at-work is more like a machine with an intermittent fault – unreliable because you can’t tell when – or if – it’s functioning properly or not.

And still – even though it’s costing money, you’re paying for 12 months’ productivity but only getting 9 – the usual procedure is to do nothing.

The team member plods on, swallowing tablets every few hours and unable to think straight – management nods admiringly at such selfless commitment – and neither takes any action.

Mistakes are made, costs incurred – and the only lead is external. By medical intervention AFTER the condition has asserted itself – not prevention BEFORE.

“Do nothing” doesn’t work

All that money – invisible because it’s already assigned as salary – is lost to the world as underperforming productivity.

Things take longer, get done wrong and have to be done again, or get missed out altogether. Not because the system needs upgrading, or new efficiencies need to be put in place – but because some poor unfortunate is not feeling well and unable to perform properly.

The stable door is bolted, the horse is long gone – with no attempt to avoid the situation in the first place.

Prevention is better than cure – yeah, right.

Except it is right.

And the whole system necessary to achieve effective prevention is already available off-the-shelf – at under £30 a day, lock, stock and barrel.

Prevention – for less than Mrs Mop

Like we say, the same or less than you’re already paying for Mrs Mop. And stacked up against £87 per day, per team member – no contest.

How does it work?

By misting up the place with germ-killing hydrogen peroxide. All germs are oxidised to nothing, there are no infections to catch – in around 40 minutes on average, your workplace is completely sterile.

And there you have it. A healthy team, fully functioning productivity, healthy profits.

Because instead of giving you only 9 months of effort, your team are now generating 12 months’ worth – a full 33% more.

Worth £30 a day don’t you think?

Germs and business – stop losing money to unwanted partners

Dismissed
Germs at work are the ultimate liability – show them the door

There’s nothing honest about germs. Underhand and sly, they’re your worst partners ever.

And of course, unwanted.

But you’ve got them, whether you like it or not. Every business has. And every person.

Once thought to be 10 times as many, around half our body cells are actually bacteria – the good guys that handle digestion, create proteins and even manage our immune systems.

The ten times number are the viruses – 10 for every bacterium – mostly passive, some benign and also part of our defences.

The good germs keep the bad germs out. Protecting us from infection – either by crowding harmful newcomers away, or ganging up on them and eating them. Getting rid of the unwanted.

Outside our bodies though, it’s a free-for-all.

Germs, germs, everywhere

Good and bad are all mixed up – filling the air and spread across every surface. So tiny they collect in the minutest cracks and crevices – almost impossible to get out.

Which makes them seriously bad for business throughout the workplace. The unwanted are in force – and there’s nothing to stop them.

Staff are exposed. They become ill. Their performance is impaired. And productivity nosedives.

Not so easy to concentrate with a pounding head or wrenching gut-ache.

Work slows, attention falters and accuracy goes for a loop. Jobs take twice as long, get snarled in hiccups, turn out second-best or worse.

None of which is staff’s fault.

The germs are just sitting there, invisible in the office, invisibly picked up.

Until staff very visibly start succumbing.

Moving around in the same space – touching the same objects, breathing the same air – they begin to infect each other. A mini epidemic. Losing out to the unwanted.

Usually not bad enough to send them home. But harmful enough to make them clumsy, give them two left feet, blundering through duties as a shadow of their real selves.

The walking wounded – with bad habits

Presenteeism it’s called.

Misguided martyrs who stay at work instead of booking off sick. More liabilities than assets. And costing money like you can’t believe – as this Germonomics calculator shows.

All happening invisibly because we can’t see germs.

No sign of dirt, everything looks clean, so we get careless. And how.

And not just us, our surroundings too.

With sloppy habits like that, the unwanted overrun us. We’re infested and don’t even know it. Until we run to the Doc for pills to keep us going – and the next few days are like hell.

Proactive protection

But prevention is better than cure. And a lot cheaper too – no mistakes or downtime to compensate for.

And prevention is push-button easy.

Because pressing a button is all it takes to mist up everywhere with germ-killing hydrogen peroxide – oxidising all germs to nothing. No bugs to catch, no sickness to suffer, no productivity to sabotage.

Which brings us back to making money, instead of losing it – moving forward, instead of drifting.

Bye, bye, germs.

Unwanted partners, who needs them?

Picture Copyright: BDS / 123RF Stock Photo

Would you risk your whole company for a few days of sick leave?

Worried Manager
It’s not having no staff you have to worry about, it’s having no company at all

Sick leave is sick leave, right?

People taking chances, skiving days off. Like, unless they’re in hospital, it’s all stitch up, yeah?

Productivity down the tubes because somebody has a sore toe.

Not an issue, except for staff discipline.

Show them you’re soft and they’ll take you for everything. All it needs is a little tightening up.

As if.

Beyond sick leave

Yes, sick leave is an issue. But small in the great scheme of things. A blip alongside the multi-million pound deals where the real action is.

Small, huh?

Try microscopic.

The size that germs are when they take you down. You, or any of your staff – we’re all human. When infection strikes, we’re all of us out of commission – real pain, real fever, real life threat if it gets out of hand.

Which is why sick leave.

Time out to get better. Quarantine to avoid taking other staff down too.

Side issue, yes – except it’s human assets that are at hazard. Productive only when the body is working well. Dodgy, dead risky, or downright dangerous when not 100%.

Yes, so somebody slopes off a day extra after a cold or flu. A small price against having the whole office out with the same thing. No hands when they’re most needed, so things start looking iffy.

“Nice take on this!” – Washington Post

Or riskier still, how about they DON’T take time off? Or not all the time they’re supposed to. So they’re working at half power, unwell at work, dragging everybody down with them. Screwing up left, right and centre because their minds are wet putty.

Paying that never stops

Costa Brava con job? Get ready for Costa Plenty.

Like how about the airline captain who lifts off for a long-haul flight with tummy cramps? £500 million worth of Airbus A380, 360 passengers – and lawyers lined up to infinity and beyond if anything goes wrong.

And if the worst happens, who’s going to fly with that airline ever again? What happens to their licence?  Is there any way back from such negative PR?

Can’t happen in your business?

Hey, when sick leave issues go pear-shaped, nobody is immune.

Like Mex-food restaurant chain, Chipotle. Staff recalled from sick leave early – still contagious. 133 customers down with food poisoning, share price drops 12%. And this on top off previous health incidents – only a bumpy ride back.

You see, sick leave itself is easy. Expensive, yes – business gurus PwC put yearly UK sick leave costs at £29 billion.

The hard part is the knock-ons. An average ten times normal sick leave cost for regular Tom, Dick and Harriets who struggle back to their desks as martyrs – an eye-watering £290 billion.

Damage control

And then there’s the damage control. What do those sick staff do when they’re not functioning and out of their heads, basically sitting there trying to stay alive? What can they cost with their mistakes and falling around? Double their salary? Triple? Check out the hairy possible Germonomics.

The mind boggles.

All of which says, don’t catch a cold. Treat sick leave seriously. Over-indulge if you have to. A few extra days off is chicken-feed alongside crashing the whole company.

Besides, what better motivation can you have for staff? You show you care and you’re thinking about them. Your ace in the hole. They might not volunteer the extra mile – but they’re sure to be OK with giving it, if you ask.

Which means profits are safe, staff are safe, everybody’s happy.

Can’t do better than that.

Picture Copyright: dolgachov / 123RF Stock Photo

Penny-pinching bosses incur massive losses with hard-line back-to-work rules

Businessman facing loss
Invisible money-drain: penny-pinching on staff health protection can cost a fortune

That old advice, penny wise, pound foolish, never felt truer.

Sick or not, most managers aren’t happy unless all workers are full-time at their desks, getting on with the job.

Most staff know this. So despite being sick, do their damnedest to get back to work ASAP. There might not be a job if they don’t.

Which means staying at home two days instead of three. Getting back to work only half-recovered. And stressing about under-performance once they’re back.

The downside of penny-pinching

Hold that thought – under-performance.

About what happens when ANYONE is unwell at work.

Impaired competence. Not up to the mark. Not really doing their job properly.

Unsurprising really. How well CAN you perform when your guts are on fire, your head pounds like a pile-driver  and your thoughts are all over the place?

Uh huh.

And the boss is happy to pay for this deficiency?

That jobs take longer, important issues get missed and key clients feel neglected?

Has the price tag ever been calculated?

OK, according to CIPD figures, the average employee costs £522 per year in sick leave.  Six days out of circulation at around £87 a day.  Or as business experts PwC calculate it, an all-up cost to the country of £29 billion a year.

Not chicken-feed, so the average boss tries everything to avoid it.

Usually with stick, not carrot. Psychological mind games and bullying. The emotional blackmail of letting colleagues down.  Real or imagined threats to job security.

Yeah right, a saving of £87 per person, per day.

£174 if pressured into coming back two days early instead of one. Big deal.

False economy

Meanwhile, as businesses are beginning to find, being unwell at work costs 10 times more than being booked off sick.

Save £87 – and lose £870. Penny-pinching gone mad.

And that’s just for starters.

Coming back early, those staffers could be contagious. Bringing back germs to infect others. A domino effect going round the office. More sick days, more expense – and more under-performance for everyone coming back early.

Make that under-performance, de luxe.

Because how motivated is anyone pressured into being at work when it’s a challenge just to be there? How committed? How prepared to go the extra mile?

Which is where the price tag gets scary – applied “germonomics”.

Over and above the cost of being booked off sick – how does it work, being unwell at your desk?

What’s the cost of opportunities not followed up? Orders mislaid or lost? Delay penalties on late finishing work? Cost overruns from lack of supervision? Loss of goodwill? Or the cost of extra time and temp staff hired to meet deadlines?

Kinda makes nonsense out of strong-arming staff back to work, doesn’t it?

Or paying them an incentive to do so. Good money after bad.

And how about the fact that a lot of the time, it’s not being unwell that’s the issue? How about that most of us FREQUENTLY feel off colour and not completely ourselves? That somehow we feel pain or physical discomfort around every three days?

Invisible costs

No wonder that under-performance is as expensive as it is.

Expensive and invisible. Often as much as a whole year’s salary per staff member eaten up in unnecessary overheads – a double salary bill.

Mistakenly accepted as things taking longer than expected, unforeseen setbacks and problems with productivity. All hazily explained away as a “cost of doing business”.

Yet how many bosses ever do anything to prevent it?

Not with bribes or misplaced back-to-work incentives, but a real investment in protecting staff health?

Because it can be done. Actively protecting staff health so they don’t get ill in the first place. At least, not in their working area.

All it takes is regular treatment to eradicate germs. Make the place sterile once a week, or even daily. No germs, people can’t get sick. All that money rescued.

Adding it to normal cleaning procedures will do it. A few hundred quid extra to mist the place up with ionised hydrogen peroxide – to oxidise all viruses and bacteria and be totally germ-free.

Not penny-pinching, but pound-grabbing.

Visible dividends

And a lot extra besides.

How much better will staff feel, knowing that THEIR interests are at heart, that THEIR health is deliberately protected?

How about commitment now? Staff loyalty? Capability and performance? Going the extra mile? Productivity and efficiency? Or the company bank balance?

The costs might be invisible, but the dividends aren’t.

A lot better than penny-pinching, surely.

Picture Copyright: andreypopov / 123RF Stock Photo

How much could you be paying for invisible liabilities?

Thinking exec
Hmm – money you never even knew you had, all going down the tubes from germs. Enough is enough!

Wait a minute, invisible liabilities?

There’s no gaps on your balance sheet, everything’s all accounted for. What myths are we on about?

Actually, they’re a black hole.

And they’re probably invisible because you’ve written them off as something else.

There’s plenty of evidence of them though.

Just run your finger across your desk. Along the back, where all the computer cables are.

See it now?

Dust, city grime, crumbs from al desko lunches, general office detritus.

Yes, dirt. But that’s not all.

Too small to see, too expensive to ignore

It’s evidence of the real liabilities. Germs too small for the eye to see. That’s why they’re invisible.

OK, so germs. Maybe your office cleaners missed a bit.

Except germs are everywhere, all the time. Even in the air we breathe.

And they’re not all harmless.

Sitting in air conditioned splendour, you may not have heard of legionnaire’s disease.

But it’s your duty as a manager to protect your staff from it. A silly little germ not even a thousandth the thickness of a human hair.

Except that’s the law. As JTF Wholesale found recently when a £1 million fine hit them for neglecting it. And as G4S Cash Solutions discovered when Harlow Council nailed them for £1.8 million.

Which means, don’t mess around – get an expert to advise you.

Deadly too

Because you see, legionnaire’s disease is a nasty killer kind of super-pneumonia. And it breeds in water systems, central heating and air-con cooling towers. In pipes and showers too – anywhere that water lies still for more than a few hours.

Spread by air, once you breathe that in, it’s serious. Especially with a previous condition. Asthma perhaps, or a dicky ticker – even being a smoker is enough. Then it’s hospital and drugs and even then you might not make it.

And that’s just ONE of your invisible liabilities.

There’s plenty of others you can get hit for too – if you don’t take precautions.

Around 30 other notifiable diseases on the governments infectious diseases list. Monsters like cholera, typhoid, measles SARS, smallpox and yellow fever.

Duty of care

Not that you’re likely to see any of them. But it’s your duty to make sure your staff haven’t got them – per the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 (RIDDOR).

Yes, sure – nothing to do with you. Unless it happens.

Nothing like the non-events in your workplace. A few snuffles and tummy bugs – chicken feed.

You wish.

It’s those day-to-day bugs that are your real invisible liabilities.

And we mean day-to-day. Surprisingly, every one of us only feels up to 100% par for two or three days at a time. Otherwise, in some way or other, we’re all off-colour several times a week. An ache, a twinge, an iffy feeling, always something.

Money, money, money

Which is why, for starters, business experts PwC put losses from absenteeism at around £29 billion a year.

Hardly chicken feed.

Even more costly are the heroes who struggle to work when they’re not well. Not fully recovered from something, but worried about job security. Wrestling with flu, and the same worries. Or staggering in with tummy cramps, and determined not to be fired.

Presenteeism, it’s called. And experts reckon it costs 10 times more than absenteeism – £290 billion a year.

Put the two together and that’s £319 billion that illness costs UK businesses.

Germonomics

So let’s see – £319 billion, possible fines of £1 million or more. Oh yes, and if you have a suspected outbreak of any kind, the Health & Safety people have a thing called their fee for intervention, which is also not pocket money.

Plus of course, all the losses caused by under-performing or not fully-focused staff desperate to keep going. Mistakes, missed deadlines, clients rubbed up the wrong way and other disasters. Germonomics we call it – and to calculate what it could be costing your own business, click here.

Seems those invisible liabilities are pretty hefty.

And the fix?

For under £1,000 a month your facilities management people can buy a machine that will ELIMINATE germs for you – as in eradicate, clear out, sterilise.

Or maybe your cleaning service can do it for you for few hundred extra.

A nightly mist-up with ionised hydrogen peroxide and ALL germs are gone – hunted out of existence by a prowling tiger of a germ-killer.

Give yourself a raise

Yeah, there might still be dust and breadcrumbs when you run your finger down your desk. But count on it, there’ll be NO germs. Your place is safe and secure to a 6-log Sterility Assurance Level.

Tell you what else.

You might not have been able to see your invisible liabilities. But you sure as heck won’t be able to hide the sudden dividend that getting rid of them will trigger.

Maybe you’ll even get yourself a raise out of it.

Next stop, Queasy Tummy and Norovirus – hold on tight please

Two girls on tube
Yes, hold on tight. But don’t touch anything else – and make sure your hands are clean afterwards. You life could depend on it.

Hold on? We don’t think so.

Be super careful, more like. OCD like your life depends on it.

Which it does.

Especially if you’re not carrying disposable gloves, antibacterial gel or hand wipes.

Because after our blog of yesterday,  it seems germs on the Underground are far more of a threat than we think – as this mind-boggling post from Dr Ed demonstrates.

Too many germs, too easy to touch

Not surprising with 5 million passengers a day.

All crammed in tight, breathing the same air, hanging on to the same poles and grab handles. And all with the same dodgy hygiene habits:

Yeah, right.

Dirty hands touching dirty things, is it any wonder we’re always coming down with something?

121 different kinds of viruses and bacteria – according to research commissioned by insurance experts,  Staveley Head. 9 of them superbugs – potentially lethal killers that doctors can no longer treat with antibiotics.

Catching a bug on the tube and taking it to work. Falling ill and having to call it in. And probably passing it round to colleagues while doing so.

And all at ENORMOUS expense

It’s that kind of exposure that contributes to the £29 billion a year that sick leave costs the country.

And even worse than that, the 10 TIMES MORE it costs in unwell people coming to work anyway and toughing it out. £290 billion and counting.

£319 billion that adds up to. Enough to bankroll the NHS a whopping TWO AND A HALF TIMES over.

Or closer to home, individual organisations can get a hold on their own costs here.

Staggering, right?

Yet what do we do about it?

All that money and people bleat about cuts.

When all the time there is money for the taking – £319 billion if we play our cards right – just by ramping up our hygiene.

Hygiene, hygiene, hygiene

Like washing hands properly and often – as the folks at Northampton Hospital have been telling us for the last five years.

And like doing something to get rid of those germs. Hold everything – stop the exposure, stop the illnesses, stop all that money going down the drain.

Which means time to say, “Hold it, enough.”

Because it IS possible to eliminate germs pretty well completely. They’ll come back of course, they always do. But just like brushing our teeth, it is possible to be safe and protected every day – in the workplace, on the tube, in fact anywhere there is an enclosed space.

All it takes is regular treatment with ionised hydrogen peroxide, and the problem goes away.

ALL viruses, ALL bacteria, ALL parasites, ALL mould – end of the line, gone.

So come on people, don’t put up with it any more. Right now, the average is that we’ll all feel off-colour in some way or other every three days. Aren’t we all heartily sick of it?

Already the tube people have gone far enough to worry about air quality and do something about that. So when are they going to get a hold on the germ issue?

Let’s hope we don’t need an epidemic first.

Picture Copyright: william87 / 123RF Stock Photo

How germs at the office just got more dangerous

Germs in the office
Yes it all LOOKS reassuring – but we’re not as safe as we think we are

Dangerous? Germs at the office?  Poppycock!

A dose of flu maybe – kid’s stuff.

You’re more likely to have an accident with the photocopier.

Except there ARE germs in the office.

And if you read your papers, you’ll understand why doing something about them suddenly got a lot more serious.

First off is the report about superbugs in our travel network.

Nasties in the Underground

Research by taxi insurers Staveley Head recently turned up 121 different types of bacteria and mould in buses, taxis and in the tube – 9 of them antibiotic resistant.

As Staveley Head’s spectacular website demonstrates, pick one of those up on the way to work, and the Doc’s miracle medicine cure suddenly doesn’t work any more, them bugs have mutated to have immunity.

And pick them up you certainly can – nasties like e.coli, MRSA and klebsiella pneumoniae. Swab tests found them lurking on hand rails, seats, doors and walls – fomites waiting for contact with human hands.

To be carried along to work with all the other hazards we’re exposed to – in the air and on the things we touch. Dust, exhaust fumes, chemicals like acetone, methyl ethyl ketone, toluene and ethyl alcohol, or substances like lead, cadmium and methylene chloride.

We can’t see them of course, they’re microscopically small. But they’re on our clothes and skin and hair. We breathe them in. Ready to transfer to all the things we touch when we get to work. And for when we breathe out. Dangerous germs, unwittingly brought in for our colleagues to catch and succumb to.

And they’re not the only ones. Things are happening in other parts of this sad old world of ours that are equally dangerous to our health.

At war with disease

Like second, war in the Middle East.

Decades of conflict that have devastated whole countries and health systems. And in their wake, epidemics of diseases not seen by doctors for more than half a century. Polio in Syria and cholera in Yemen.

Not our problem, we say to ourselves. Syria is 2,000 miles away, Yemen 3,600.

Except sadly, in this age of direct jet travel, local problems are world problems. Already, hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced, pouring into Europe or wherever they can get to. And like us tube travellers or the bloke on the No 9 bus, bringing their germs with them.

For every polio victim, how many are carriers? How many are there with the disease incubating inside them as they thankfully emerge on our streets, looking to start a new life?

Meanwhile, in Yemen, cases of cholera have already topped 167,000 and the disease is currently killing one person an hour. How many Yemenis are in Britain, heaving a heavy sigh of relief?

And how many of either have – without meaning to, or even know they’re doing it – transferred their germs to you?

Not directly, but via the grab handle in the back of a taxi, or a rush-hour strap on the Victoria Line – swabbed the worst for germs in the whole London system. Well of course, the Victoria Line runs right through incoming refugee central – King’s Cross & St Pancras AND Victoria.

Unseen, unheard, unrecognised

Worries, yes, And bigger than we think too.

Because third, American reports indicate that antibiotic-resistant superbugs are not as closely tracked in hospitals as they should be. Infection-related deaths are uncounted, greatly hindering the fight against an increasingly global health challenge.

Hopefully, protocols are more strictly adhered to here. But with the NHS in a a state of permanent overload from challenges in all directions, it is likely the same dangers exist in UK too. You peg off with a superbug that your Doc couldn’t treat when you were admitted for something else, who’s going to know?

Which comes back to how safe are you at the office?

And the unpleasant truth, not very. A fact that stems largely from our own hype about standards of hygiene. We think we’re cool.

Reality is way different from what we imagine. For instance:

All of which puts terrific dependence on how well the office itself is cleaned if we want to stay safe.

And the answer is, not very. Not when office cleaning is usually a grudge purchase at the lowest rate. A quick vacuum and wipe-down is min protection against the 10 million germs to be found on the average office desk.

Which, together with the germs we brought in off the street, make the place a lot more dangerous than we confidently kid ourselves it is.

The cost of doing nothing

Once a luxury, it is fast becoming a necessity to do something specifically about office germs. And if bosses won’t do it for staff health, maybe they’ll do it for the sheer economics.

Or “germonomics” if they choose to get serious. The thousands and thousands of pounds that can be saved – just by removing germs that threaten productivity. Push-button technology already in place to make offices sterile, safe and secure.

So how dangerous is YOUR office – because, since it affects us all, this is one of those where you CAN believe all the things you read in the newspaper?

And the answer is very easy.

Does the button get pressed every night, or not?

How to recover 3 months extra productivity from every 12 months you pay

Businesswoman with germs
Even the best can’t deliver 100% when germs take them down

Unwell at work, unable to let go.

Job pressure, tight deadlines, refusing to let colleagues down.

Total professional, salt of the earth, reliable to the last.

But head pounding, guts churning – about as much use as a first-day rookie.

Sound familiar?

One of your star staff members. Or it could even be you. Walking wounded and total loose cannon.

Concentration all over the place, unable to focus – every decision costing big bucks.

Hanging in there, determined to ignore the flu or food poisoning or whatever it is they’ve struggled to work with. Nowhere near 100% productivity.

Less than best

But that’s what you pay for, isn’t it? 100% of the best and worth every penny.

Except for the off days, when things can – and do – go totally pear-shaped.

No, not the 6 days everybody’s entitled to, taking off sick at home. You’ve already budgeted for that – with Plan B all ready when key staffers go off grid.

But have you ever added up the days when you don’t feel up to it, but go to work anyway? It’s way more than you ever imagine. Nobody is ever 100% all of the time – or even close.

Most of us might get through three days in a row without some kind of twinge or niggle. Nothing serious – just enough to play havoc with our thinking. Number skills or memory recall, one or both somehow missing – or not quite there when we want them.

57.5 days a year we’re like that, according to a GCC report validated against the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Workplace Health and Productivity Questionnaire (HPQ).

That’s almost 3 working months. A whole quarter of a year’s worth of productivity gone for a loop. Not anybody’s fault, but an undeniable fact of life.

And a massive hole in your operating budget that you can’t even see. Up, down – staff productivity is what it is. We all assume 100%, but it seldom is. So the costs are absorbed without even thinking. Money paid out and never recovered.

Get back

OK, some of it, you can never get back.

About a third of unwell at work costs are musculoskeletal issues – injuries, cramps, arthritis, muscle pain, back complaints. Treatable yes, but not going to go away in a hurry – and probably not avoidable.

Another third are mental. Stress or emotional issues – at work, or outside. We all know how concentration falters with a loss in the family, or a relationship turns difficult.

But the remaining third you can do something about. The ones caused by germs.

Illness or infection – they can come from outside and pass around. But they’re just as likely to originate in the workplace. People working closely together, breathing the same air, sharing the same space, touching the same objects – it’s inevitable.

Sure the place gets cleaned regularly. But not all of it. Some items rarely get attention – and some not at all.

Horrible hygiene

For instance, how many people might use a touchscreen – and how often does it get cleaned? Once a week? Once a month? Or even ever?

Yet we all know germs transfer by contact. Things we use with our hands – keypads, doorknobs, light switches, documents. And our personal items too – keys, wallets, money, cosmetics. Never cleaned, are they? Yet they’re always around.

So are some sobering hygiene facts – we’re less wholesome than we like to think.

On top of which, germs linger easily in workplaces. They might get cleaned regularly, but how often are they disinfected? Which is how come an ordinary desk might harbour 10 million germs.

And how about the air we breathe?

Classy places might have HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filters in the air conditioning. So that germs down to 3 microns in size are prevented from circulating.

But germs like rhinovirus – posh name for the common cold – are smaller. So small, they could fall through the pores of an unglazed plate – if they were heavy enough for gravity to affect them.

Since they’re not, they float around freely, riding the smallest eddies. MRSA, e.coli, salmonella, bacillus, enterococci, campylobacter, shigella and cholera are all undersize, waiting for the chance to infect us.

Not nice if we catch them. Big challenges to productivity.

Prevention better than cure

But totally avoidable if we eliminate them in the first place.

No germs at work, no chance to get sick. Those 57.5 days start looking a lot less.

Easy to do, too. Add getting rid of germs to your regular cleaning schedule. A step beyond a lick and promise to actually making the place safe.

All it takes is a frequent mist-up of hydrogen peroxide. Charged particles easily disperse through the air, spreading everywhere, positively snatching at bacteria, viruses and fungi, oxidising them to oblivion. No germs, anywhere – on any surface, or in the air. The place is sterile – safe and secure.

And now you start getting your own back. 100% productivity all of the time moves closer. The most positive step towards workplace wellness you could take. Way better than medical examinations, gym membership, feng shui décor or fresh fruit at reception.

Way better for your bank balance too. Because now you’re not paying for 12 months and only getting 9. Productivity is up and you haven’t spent a bean getting there. Germonomics in action.

Staff feel better too. More full of beans and energy. Ready to take on the world.

Which is what you’re REALLY paying them for, isn’t it?

Picture Copyright: chrisfromparis/ 123RF Stock Photo

Forget computer viruses, your real unwell-at-work cost is already a ransom

Germs in office
Virus alert – better call a doctor because IT can’t help

Computer viruses you can fix. You can even turn the things off and work on paper.

We’re not so lucky with the human price tag though.

Viruses can take us down – or destroy us completely.

Take norovirus, for example.

Highly contagious, extremely unpleasant – with gut-wrenching cramps, violent projectile vomiting and uncontrollable burning diarrhoea that put us out of action for 3 days or more.

Get complications, like dehydration – and we’re in hospital fighting for our lives.  Around 800 of us don’t actually make it.

Worse viruses than IT

But it’s not the being off work that costs. You’ve already budgeted for that – £522 per year according to the CIPD.

Much worse is the build-up and the aftermath. Staff members toughing it out to come to work feeling like death. Trying to work like that – and infecting colleagues without meaning to.

You pay for that too, though you don’t notice it. Highly professional people at half-power or less. Not really with it, making mistakes, missing out detail. Well just how much can you concentrate, when all you want to do is crawl away and die?

OK, so we’re over the norovirus in a few days – and a bit wobbly both sides.

But it’s not just norovirus. There’s rotavirus too – otherwise known as the common cold. And flu. And other kinds of tummy bug that FEEL as bad as norovirus – campylobacter, salmonella, e.coli, shigella, the list goes on for ever. And that’s not even looking at the dangerous ones.

Which means from the money angle, if it’s not one thing, it’s another. On average we’re unwell at work for 57.5 days a year. Almost three working months – at a cost of around £5,220 a year, reckoning on 10 times the cost of absenteeism.

Invisible costs

Invisible expenditure that, because you just absorb it. Your salaries are worked out for a twelve month period, assuming productivity at 100%.

In reality, though you don’t see it as an overhead, you only get nine months’ worth of value. The other 3 months  as we’ve seen, are staff dragging themselves through the motions. They’re doing their damnedest , but at nowhere near 100%. Plus you’ve got to factor in all the hiccups.

And that’s for ALL of us – not one or two!

Viruses make no distinction – neither do bacteria or fungi. A germ strike at work affects everybody from the chief exec down.

And Sod’s Law ensures it always happens at the least convenient moment. As the make-or-break contract approaches its deadline.  At the one critical moment when it’s all hands to the pump.

So let’s see, that’s £522 cost for being off sick – and £5,220 cost struggling through things at work. A grand total of £5,742 per staff member per year. Plus all the lost business from not performing at 100%. Doesn’t that sound like a ransom?

With a staff of just 10, that’s a cost over-run of more than £50,000. So OK, there’s always problems with servers and firewalls and stuff – but does your IT system plough through expensive unforeseens like that?

Alongside the human cost, that’s likely to be chickenfeed. But hey, they are your most valuable assets after all.

Germ defences, the nightly reboot

There is an upside though.

Like computers, you can switch off workplace germs just like that. And if there’s no germs, your staff can’t get sick, can they?

Oh, they’ll still bring in illnesses they’ve picked up outside. Like the 12 antibiotic-resistant superbugs they can pick up on the Underground. Or the 121 others they can catch on buses and taxis.

But step inside their workplace and they’re at germ zero.

The place is sterile thanks to a nightly mist-up of hydrogen peroxide that oxidises ALL bacteria, viruses and fungi to nothing. 99.9999% germ-free – to a 6-Log Sterility Assurance Level.

Yes, they might still have their bug. But there’s nowhere for it to dwell, less chance to transfer it, and it’s hiding place will be neutralised in the next nightly treatment. Not just quarantined, but totally blasted out of existence.

Like a firewall for human viruses (bacteria and fungi too) – only better.

Picture Copyright: kzenon / 123RF Stock Photo

Is it overkill to sterilise your workplace every day?

Doctor with company staff
Add up the cost of all the hours unwell at work –  it’s 10 times being off sick

Wha..? Sterilise the workplace? Do people actually do that? Overkill definitely.

For the health of your staff.

But there’s nothing wrong with the staff. They don’t get ill.

No?

Not at work anyway. Just one or two days off for colds and flu, nothing serious.

But they DO get colds?

Everybody has off days

Of course they do, who doesn’t? Not bad enough to take time off work, though.

How about tummy bugs? Cramps and feeling nauseous?

Yes, well – it happens. Everyone gets that. So what are they going to do, wimp around at home?

So your team are all toughies? They come to work, no matter what – unless it’s really bad?

Sure, they’re all dedicated professionals. A few days with a dodgy tummy – par for the course.

They get on with the job?

Like the champions they are – always at their desks, even at lunch time.

And their work quality is OK?

Of course, why not? The job is the job isn’t it?

The Boeing factor

Suppose one of them was a Boeing captain coming in to land, but with a crampy tummy – serious gut-ache – would that be OK?

But they’re NOT Boeing captains! Definitely overkill. Anyway, that’s what second officers are for.

Like if they’re feeling bad, somebody else steps in to take over?

Exactly, can’t afford to take chances.

So work quality can get a bit iffy?

Yes, but we can handle it.

Any idea, how much that might cost? Staff working unwell, struggling to keep up?

OK, so things slip a bit. Better than having them off sick.

What happens if the Boeing captain slips? Says he’s OK, but isn’t?

That wouldn’t happen.

But you have staff who say they’re OK, don’t you? Don’t worry, I’m fine, I can do this.

Of course, they’re all professionals.

I’m OK – yeah, right

But things could slip that cost money – mistakes, missing detail, muddled thinking?

Well, yes.

And irritable behaviour maybe – feeling low, so they bite someone’s head off?

Yes, that too.

Which could be a customer, or that VIP business contact you’ve been buttering up for months?

It’s possible.

So is it worth the risk?

Not really, no.

But you’re glad they haven’t stayed home?

OMG, yes. If people stayed home every time they felt off, we’d never get anything done.

Which underlines that being unwell at work costs 10 times staying off sick – without adding in all the hiccups, wrong plays and mistakes.

Alright, so it costs a few bob – what’s this got to do with sterilising?

Worth the risk?

Well the Boeing captain has gut ache and can’t concentrate – how about if the second officer has it too? They both ate the same flight meal, or the second officer caught it from the captain?

OK, it’s an emergency – again, what about the sterilising?

It’s a precaution, to reduce the risk. Like you never need it, until you need it. An insurance policy.

How does that work?

Take away problems before they start. Was the captain ill before he boarded, or did he catch it on the plane?

What’s the difference?

If the plane was sterilised to start, there’d be no germs for the captain to catch.

OK, so he caught it beforehand.

And because the plane is sterilised, there’s less chance of passing it on to the second officer. Or any of the cabin crew, or even the passengers.

They’d be protected.

A lot better than a whole plane-load coming in to Heathrow – and a last-second tummy cramp that twists like a sword in the captain’s gut and brings them down on the nose wheel.

Prevents accidents and costly mistakes. And this sterilising works, how?

The easy way is tagged onto regular cleaning. After the nightly vacuum and wipe-down. Mist the place up with hydrogen peroxide – next morning the place is sterile. No germs to catch, no illnesses to come down with.

Which can actually save money?

Which actually claws back money you’ve already paid out. Staff are unwell at work on average 57.5 days a year – three working months of performance below standard. You pay twelve months salary but you only get nine – until you get rid of the germs.

Cold, hard cash

A third of a year’s productivity – too good to be true.

You’re right. Because that’s not including musculoskeletal problems like backache or muscle pain. Or pressure from stress. But the feel-good is a real turn-on for motivation – and staff KNOW you’re looking after them.

Like hotels do with their sealed glasses and toilet in the bathroom – “sanitised for your protection.”

Sort of, except “sanitised” just means it’s clean. “Sterilised” means there’s no germs – you’re making the place safe for everyone.

Better than gym membership and fresh fruit – plus there’s money in it for the company too.

Basic germonomics, so is it overkill?

If everybody scores, no. Just good business. Another overhead cut down to size – better performance, higher competitiveness.

So what are you waiting for?

Picture Copyright: hedgehog / 123RF Stock Photo and leungchopan / 123RF Stock Photo