Category Archives: Hygiene Focus

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.

It’s up to us now – if we don’t each of us help the NHS, nobody else will

Doctors warning - help the NHS
The writing’s on the wall – help the NHS, or we’ll all go down together

Forget the headlines and the soundbites – the only people who can help the NHS now are ourselves.

Never mind WHY there’s a crisis, if we all of us do our bit, we can get through this together.

First off, the NHS are right – don’t get ill. We’ve got to stop running to them unless it’s absolutely necessary.

Help the NHS – no more chances

There’s too many of us otherwise. Our numbers just swamp the place.

So we’ve got to stop making ourselves ill. Taking chances with our health that don’t do us any good.

Like our dodgy hygiene – we’re really lousy at keeping ourselves clean.

OK, we can’t see germs, so we can be excused for thinking that we don’t LOOK dirty.

We know about germs though, and the kind of precautions we should take.

But because we LOOK OK, we don’t do anything – and we hate being nannied about it.

None of which will help the NHS.

With an Aussie flu epidemic about to hit, on top of the usual winter tsunami, being precious about washing our hands is not exactly useful.

Especially when our track record is so iffy:

Ugh, the winter vomiting bug

Which gets really crazy when you think of the winter vomiting bug.

Norovirus is highly infectious and spreads on contact. Yet nine times out of ten, if ever we come down with it, we always blame the restaurant or fast food outlet of food poisoning.

Sure, the vomiting, diarrhoea and stomach cramps are so bad, we have to blame it on someone. It’s just extra hard to swallow that we caused it ourselves.

None of which can help the NHS when we show up, moaning and groaning. Norovirus is the one thing that can go round everywhere like wildfire – the last thing they need on top of the winter flood of patients and Aussie flu.

How are we so sure that norovirus is usually self inflicted?

It’s not just the poor washing of hands, it’s whether they’re washed at all.

Think about your day, from the time you left for work, to the time you meet your friends for dinner at the pizza  joint.

Think about the things you’ve touched that other people touch as well – the heavy traffic hand contacts everybody else makes, also without washing their hands.

Door handles, light switches, keypads, money, keys, hand rails, grab handles for instance. When do those things ever get cleaned – and how germified are they before you touch them?

Follow that with a whole day at the office, with perhaps 2 or 3 trips to the loo, and just maybe you’re also in that gruesome 62% or 40%. Yes, it’s possible. You do the whole day and show up for eats, without even washing once.

And then you order a double pepperoni and pineapple – which you EAT WITH YOUR HANDS.

So where does the food poisoning come from – out of the pizza oven, or off your own fingers?

Same thing with burgers, chicken drumsticks, kebabs, hot dogs, chips, bacon butties and anything else you munch on the go.

Finger lickin’ good, sure. And finger lickin’ norovirus, e.coli, campylobacter, salmonella or whatever else you swallowed at the same time.

Soap and water and safe

Yet all it takes – to help the NHS and spare yourself the agony – is a short session with soap and water. Always before food and always after the loo.

The same five minutes should help you duck the Aussie flu too. Because, yes, it’s airborne, but mostly spread on contact. Those gobs of snot and dribble are too heavy to stay up for long. Keep your hands and face clean and you can avoid them altogether.

Which is exactly how best to help the NHS.

Avoidance.

Don’t get ill in the first place, and the four-hour misery of A&E never happens. You never have to worry about getting a bed, or a possible appointment with the Grim Reaper in the corridor.

You do your bit – and everybody else does theirs – suddenly the NHS stands a fighting chance.

No more slagging them off. That belongs to the politicians, who can’t keep their mitts off, pretending to organise things. They’re not doctors, and they’re not managers – so what would they ever know about running a health service?

They’re the mob who shut down all the care homes, so the old folks have no place to go except stay in their hospital bed. The same mob who contracted local doctors so they’re no longer on call – and don’t work evenings or weekends either.

Want to see your GP? Sorry, on the golf course, come back next week.

See your Westminster wunderkind

All of which means contact your local party wunderkind and give them hell. All those people crowding into the NHS are their doing and it’s up to them to stop things.

And if you really want to help the NHS, make them think about the future too, not just the votes they’ll lose next time we go to the ballot box. Because if this winter’s NHS crisis looks bad, get ready for Armageddon in ten years’ time.

According to Dr Dame Sally Davies, England Chief Medical Officer, two calamities are coming that make Aussie flu look like child’s play.

The first is antibiotic resistance. Those wonder-drugs that make modern medicine such a miracle are rapidly becoming useless. The bacteria they’re up against have mutated themselves into immunity. All of a sudden, basic surgery isn’t possible any more – no heart bypasses, no hip replacements, no C-section births. You could even die from a paper cut.

Worse still, there’s no replacement. Nothing in the pipeline. The medicine cupboard is bare ands we’re back to the Dark Ages.

The second is obesity. Already two-thirds of us are either fat or obese – and a third of our kids too. All set for the slippery slope to asthma, type 2 diabetes, possible amputations, heart disease and cancer. Unless something is done quick, 30 million of us are going to die – long, slow and agonising – half the population of UK.

The politicians are doing nothing about these either. Still thinking about lunch, their picture in the paper, and a salary equivalent to five nurses.

So, want to help the NHS?

Lay it on the line to your local wunderkind – do something now, before it’s too late.

Oh, and keep your hands clean while you’re doing it. It could save your life.

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.

Ban lunch at your desk, rescue lost productivity

Burger at desk
54% of office people eat lunch at their desks – and take one hell of achance doing it

Here it comes, the usual blah about talking a break, you need to get out more. Actually, just lift your keyboard and lunch is there – from yesterday, or the day before, or maybe last week.

Not all of it, of course. You ate that.

But there’s plenty of crumbs and bits. Along with grit, dust bunnies and other yuck. Maybe not enough for a mouse or cockroach – but great for a whole colony of bacteria. A few million e.coli for instance, or rampant staphylococcus – a legend in its own lunch time.

That’s right, germs.

Just sitting there, waiting for you to touch them – and put your fingers in your mouth ten minutes later.

Because that’s what we do, you know. Touch our mouth, eyes and nose every few minutes, sometimes 3,000 times a day.

One touch is all it takes

Exactly how that cold, flu or tummy bug starts – or whatever nasty it is that starts at the office.

Because you haven’t washed your hands, have you? Maybe not since you left home. During which time you’ve handled gloves, keys, money, your handbag or wallet, door handles, lift buttons, grab handles on the bus, the push button at a pedestrian crossing, and loads of others.

All things we know and use every day. But when you think about it, never get cleaned or wiped from one year to the next. Not unless some accident happens, like salad dressing from your sandwich squidges all over them.

Clean hands are a start – way fewer germs. Except they stop being clean as soon as you touch something. Because what are the chances the thing you touch isn’t covered in germs too?

Blowing off the dust won’t crack it. Neither will a once-over with a damp rag. An antibacterial will do better – except you still can’t get all the nooks and crannies. Specially in that tangle of wires at the back of your computer.

Bad bugs, waiting for you

Hardly surprising. The average desk for instance, has 10 million germs on it. Gets a wipe-down every night when the swamp-out team do the place. Which basically transfers all the germs from the next desk to yours and around the whole office.

Nary a deep clean, except maybe once a year. Which also tends to be a wipe-down, only this time with bleach. Not too strong though, because of the smell. And not for too long either, that stuff eats plastic and corrodes metal. So actual contact time to kill germs is pretty minimal.

And you want to each your lunch there?

Helps to explain how it is that each of us has something wrong with us every few days or so. An infected cut, headache, acid reflux or simply feeling lousy. Around every three days, according to research.

And we still expect ourselves to be 100% on-the-ball, alert and fully focused? Who are we kidding that our work is up to scratch feeling like that? Like it or not, we’re making mistakes, missing detail and taking way longer than we should to do stuff.

Unwell at work, stress, not a good lunch

That’s a lot of time, money and anguish down the drain, from trying to be a hero at our desks. 57.5 days a year, we struggle like that. Unwell at work almost three working months.

Work in an open plan office and those numbers just multiply. More people with more germs – spread around by sharing the same space, touching the same things and the ever-helpful air con stirring the atmosphere.

Bring back dog-box offices, take your lap-top to the coffee shop – or better still, work from home!

On top of which is the stress of knowing we should stay home, we’re contagious – but not wanting to call in sick. Worried about job security or being labelled a wimp. Colleagues blaming us for leaving them in a lurch. Being left out of the loop. Or accused of skiving off.

All from germs on your desk – and multiplied several times over by eating lunch there.

OK, so you go out for lunch. You were trying to save money, but at least you’ll avoid the germs.

Germs everywhere

Until you come back.

Because the germs don’t just come from food. They’re on everything and everywhere, held in check only by our body’s immune system.

Well, yes – because when DO you wash your hands?

Galloping through the day, such basic hygiene isn’t even on our radar. More like “logiene”, because:

Can’t win, can we?

Go out to avoid germs, wash our hands – we catch them anyway.

Unless the place is treated so there aren’t any – by an effective health protection system. Rendered germ-free, so we arrive in the morning and it’s sterilised. No germs to catch, nothing contagious – we’re safe.

Zero germs, zero illness

Yeah, sure – we bring in germs from outside, on our skin and our clothing, we can’t avoid that.

Meanwhile the germ threshold is zero, we’re less likely to come down with anything.

Our colleagues too. Three working months per person snatched from the jaws of lost productivity. Fewer mistakes, better concentration, less stress, jobs finished on time – no need to work late.

You wouldn’t have to ban lunch at your desk either – though the crumbs and stuff will still happen.

How you handle that is your problem. Wipes and hand gel would be good.

No worries if you forget though.

The health protection system’s got your back – and you can get away with 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.

 

Productivity: how most British businesses are standing on the brake

Employee Health Protection
Not healthy – business spend a fortune on accelerating productivity, but peanuts on taking the brakes off

OK, so we’re lagging behind if you believe the Office for Budget Responsibility. Not keeping up, hanging onto our shekels, not investing in the future.

Doesn’t look like it with the new start-ups making the headlines. New ideas, new technology, the front-runners are showing the world.

Across the board though, there’s no doubt performance could be better. Bigger, more established businesses are not so quick to jump in the gaps – and too many cut corners with low income immigrant labour.

They might look like they’re trying to go places, but the fact is that pretty well all of them are standing on the brake. Holding back, without even knowing they’re doing it.

But as winter draws in and the days get colder, the evidence becomes more obvious.

The first sneeze, the first sore throat, the first coughing attack in the office. A team member gamely pushing themselves at their desk, determined not to give in to whatever bug it is – common cold, H3N2 Aussie flu virus, MERS, SARS, or any one of a billion possible illnesses.

No protection against germs

And that’s the clue – being unwell at work. Trying to keep going, but feeling like death warmed up – at what kind of capability level? 60% of their normal? 40%? 25%?

Under-powered performance and under-powered concentration. So the work load suffers and accuracy with it. Lots of good intentions, but unwell staff are unable to deliver their best – which means productivity can only take a dive.

And how long will it be before other team members start coughing too? Everyone sharing the same work space, breathing the same air, touching the same things – it’s going to happen isn’t it? What goes around, comes around – a setback is almost inevitable.

Which is what we mean by standing on the brake.

Because what do most businesses do about protecting staff from colds and flu – or anything else for that matter? A company flu jab, maybe – and that’s your lot.

And how about prevention?

It’s winter – so expectations  are high for norovirus,  the vomiting bug, to appear. What measures are taken against that?

Or legionnaire’s disease, a pneumonia-like killer that spreads through the air via the HVAC system? Neglect that one and it can cost millions in health and safety fines, as G4S Cash Solutions found out.

What about duty of care?

Also on top of the health risk, other hazards like mould and damp can trigger a £5K spot fine. Or as one charity found out, £12,000 in compensation and six months of expensive renovations.

That’s in addition to the 30 other notifiable diseases listed by Public Health England – along with 60 notifiable organisms that present a significant risk to human health. 90 illnesses any business is liable for if found negligent in duty of care.

All of which are expensive oversights to make. But a drop in the ocean compared to on-going unwell-at-work costs and the impact of under-performance on productivity.

Because unlike time off for sick leave, which for most people is just 6 days a year according to the CIPD – being unwell at work is likely to be 10 times that at 57.5 days a year, almost three working months.

Three working months of under-powered performance. And that’s for EVERY team member – from the lowliest apprentice to the top-ranking CEO – because we’re all human. No wonder productivity is less than it could be!

And the cause?

Germs holding us back

Sure, we’re exposed to germs all the time, so some of them may have come from outside.

Reality is though that we spend 90% of our time indoor, particularly in winter – and most of our waking hours are spent at work. So it’s no surprise our workplace is where we’re exposed the most.

On top of which, because we can’t see germs, we don’t imagine we’re at risk. We LOOK clean, therefore we are. But again in reality:

There’s another dimension too. Germs are so tiny, they’re airborne most of the time. And around 80% of any room space we work in is air.

We might clean our workplace thoroughly, scrub every surface within an inch of its life, but there’s no way to scrub the air. And in a study prepared for the Wall Street Journal, germs were found to spread from the front door handle to more than half the office in less than four hours.

Up in the air – and waiting

Uh huh, the air. We share it, we breathe it, we move through it – and all the time we’re immersed in germs, surrounded by them, constantly in contact.

Sometimes we fall victim, sometimes we’re lucky. We get something and throw it off quickly, or it has us seriously out of action for several days. We’re at constant hazard, yet how many businesses provide protection against it?

Surprisingly, nobody thinks about it, accepting getting unwell as a fact of life. Productivity with the brake on, even when money and technology are trying to accelerate it.

Yet releasing the brake is easy. Mist the place up with an effective biocide like ionised hydrogen peroxide, and ALL germs are eliminated in under an hour depending on room size. Throughout the air space, across all surfaces, and into all the nooks and crannies too.

Back to 100%

And with no germs to catch, there are no illnesses to fall victim to. Those three lost working months are restored, with team members able to perform at full capacity all the time – 33% more than they could previously.

33% better productivity.

The brake is well and truly off – there’s nothing to hold back from a rapidly brightening future.

Full throttle – look out world!

How all British businesses pay £319 billion a year for ghost staff

Accountant eyeing money
Better call Ghost Busters! £319 billion – on staff you never see and don’t even exist

Got to be fraud, right? £319bn a year for ghost staff?

Highway robbery for sure.

But hang on.

Believe it or not, your organisation is already paying it, just like everybody else.

More inescapable than taxes.

Invisible too. You won’t see it in your books.

Shock, horror

But you’re paying alright. And no, it’s not fraud.

Just the reality of productivity lost from staff being unwell.

We’re kidding, right? No way it can be that high.

Better sit down, this might come as a shock.

First off, business experts PwC put the cost of annual absenteeism at £29 billion a year.

That’s people off sick and out of action. Either with musculoskeletal problems – usually back and injury problems, or stress – emotional and mental issues, or infections caused by germs – anything from a heavy cold to full-blown life-threatening illnesses.

A lot of money. But the mind-boggling figure is the cost of presenteeism – calculated in a GCC report (now Virgin Pulse) at 10 times the cost of absenteeism – a monumental £290 billion.

To put that in perspective, that’s the cost of team members coming in to work unwell. Workaholics who can’t stay away, heroes not wanting to let colleagues down, people worried about job security, or any one of a thousand different reasons.

Loose cannons

Thing is though, they might be at their desks, but what quality of work are they capable of?

We’ve all been there. How easy is to focus when your head is pounding or you keep running to the loo? You know you should be in bed, but you stagger in anyway, often doing yourself and the business more harm than good.

It gets worse.

According to the CIPD, most absentees are away for 6 days – at an average cost of £522 per team member.

But presenteeism for staff unwell at work averages out at 57.5 days per team member – almost 3 working months, at a cost of £5,220.

Actually, it’s usually more than that. Way more – easily running into thousands.

Because people unwell at work make mistakes, miss deadlines because they can’t concentrate, get ratty with customers and colleagues at the risk of losing sales, and generally fumble around like rookies, far from the slick professionals you originally hired.

Keep in mind too, that feeling off at work is seldom in continuous stretches. More likely in sporadic bursts – a day here, 2 days there, intermittent throughout the year. On average working out to some kind of “off-colour” experience every 3 days.

Ghosts in the machine

Put absenteeism and presenteeism together and you get the £319 billion we were jumping up and down about earlier. So where do we come with our mumbo-jumbo about ghost staff?

Look at it this way.

Your whole team were hired on 12 month salaries, but presenteeism cuts their productivity down to 9 months effectively. You read that right. You’re paying for 12 months, but you’re only getting 9. For every member of your team, yourself included, that’s 3 dead months you’re bankrolling.

Which means for every 3 team members working 9 months, there’s the equivalent of a 4th that you’re paying for over the same 9 months. Only this person doesn’t exist – not on the payroll, not anywhere. Not doing any work either.

OK, so working off the CIPD’s figures, if one person costs you £5,220 over 3 months, in the 9 months that they actually DO work, you’re stumping up £15,660. That’s how much productivity your money buys – on 20 days a working month, that’s 180 days worth in a year, not the 240 you actually thought you were getting.

Uh, huh. So THREE team members working 9 months is £46,980 – that’s the productivity you’re getting. But you’re actually paying for TWELVE months, which is £62,640, you sign the cheques yourself.

The other £15,660 goes to your not-so-friendly ghost . Productivity lost – all written off in your salaries account.

Well what else can you call it? A cost of doing business? Do us a favour!

Exorcising ghosts

If you knew up front you were only getting 9 months worth of productivity for every 12 you paid for, you wouldn’t have done the deal, would you? After all, you weren’t born yesterday. And what kind of a business person repeatedly closes deals for ONE THIRD more than they need to be?

Yet that’s what ALL businesses pay.

Because ask yourself, how many British businesses have plans to PREVENT staff becoming unwell?

Oh, there’s plenty with health promotion programmes and keep fit classes. With stop smoking and lose weight packages too.

But few if any to actually STOP PEOPLE GETTING SICK. To push hygiene as best practice, eliminate germs or protect staff from hazardous exposure.

Sure, well you can’t see germs – they’re out of sight, out of mind.

So it never crops up on the radar that your team could be at risk in an ordinary work environment on an ordinary working day. Which is how come the figures for being unwell at work are as horrendous as they are.

Productivity risks

What sort of insurance company would give you cover if they realised that:

Or that in most business work environments:.

Which suggests that the average workplace is in reality a serious health disaster waiting to happen. Trying to get cover would be basically fraud.

But even fraud never gets this calamitous. According to the CIPD, quoting the University of Portsmouth’s Centre for Counter Fraud Studies, the annual cost of fraud in the UK is £193 billion per year.

Stack that up against the £319 billion in lost productivity through unnecessary illness – and it’s more than 1½ times as much again.

Unnecessary losses

Unnecessary?

You’d better believe it.

Which sort of suggests something about duty of care and prevailing business acumen, doesn’t it?

Except don’t beat yourself up about it. We’re all of us unaware of these issues – A) because we can’t see germs and B) because the cost is invisible anyway, all wrapped up and paid for in everybody’s salary package.

Yet for only a few hundred a month – probably less than you’re already paying for nightly cleaning – it’s possible to eliminate ALL germs completely.

Well at least as completely as 99.9999% – just 1 microorganism in a million. No viruses, no bacteria, no fungi – to a 6-Log Sterility Assurance Level. As sterile or better than most hospital operating theatres.

How’s it done?

Get rid of the germs, get rid of the ghosts

As simply as misting the place up with germ-killing hydrogen peroxide after everybody’s gone home.

The stuff reaches everywhere, grabs germs and oxidises them to nothing – 40 minutes and everything is sterile. No germs to catch, no illnesses to suffer, no productivity to lose, you’re back in the money.

Not completely of course, there’s still the downside of musculoskeletal problems and stress to account for. Though if you’re a hot manager and show real care for your team, most of any stress issues can be minimised to niggles, so you’re still ahead of the game.

Especially since you don’t believe in ghosts – or ghost staff for that matter.

Productivity: why you’re not getting your money’s worth (Part 1)

Rich exec
With everyone at full strength for 100% of the time, you’re laughing all the way to the bank

Always a worry isn’t it? You think you’re getting your money’s worth – but there are doubts.

Especially with productivity.

Why does everything have to be so difficult? Why does it take so long? Doesn’t anyone care what they’re doing?

And you can’t blame your team, or even think of it.

You hired them. They’re all professionals. Carefully motivated and they love working for you.

So is it Murphy’s Law that so many things go pear-shaped?

Don’t beat yourself up about it.

You’re a victim of presenteeism. Team members coming to work unwell.

Invisible black hole

A lot of businesses – mainly old school – reckon that’s a good thing. Everybody at their desks, you’re up to full strength. Optimum efficiency.

If only.

Because just think about the implications of being unwell at work. You’ve been there yourself, so you know what it’s like. How do you cope?

The short answer is, you don’t.

Yes, you can tough it out and put in the hours. But the lousy way you feel means the spark isn’t there.

It might be the most involving and satisfying job in the world – but you haven’t got the sharp edge. Performance is down and you know it. You might be the most brilliant MBA ever hired, but right now you’d struggle through Key Stage One SATS.

Which is what being unwell does.

The sweats, the swimmy head, the roiling guts, the wanting to throw up all the time.

It might be flu, food poisoning, meningitis, or whatever. Basically you’ve been exposed to germs  – and your productivity is down the tubes.

All very commendable, coming in to work, from a commitment point of view. The martyr fighting off demons, defiantly standing by your post.

Until you consider the cost.

Start counting

You’re an MBA, right? Or some equally commendable professional. With a salary north of £50K. An imbursement spread over 12 months a year and probably worth every penny.

But right now you don’t have MBA capabilities, do you? Or anywhere close.

You’re closer to flying your desk as a Key Stage One SATS, and not a very happy one at that.

Which means how good is the work you’re doing? How accurate? How professional?

Without meaning to, you could be doing a lot of damage. And because you’re a trusted high-level performer, any glitches you cause might not be picked up for months.

That’s not doing the business any favours – or yourself, come to that.

You should be resting up, at home in bed, or in hospital. Somewhere safe where you can shake it off and avoid infecting any of your colleagues. But sure, you’ve already used up your leave allocation – so here you are, hanging in there and pretending everything is normal.

And right there is why presenteeism is such a major liability – 10 times the cost of absenteeism , if not more. And according to at least one business study, most of us are like that 57.5 days a year – almost 3 working months.

Down the tubes

Which on your MBA package – and through no fault of your own – is £12.5K’s worth of productivity you’re NOT providing.

In reality you’re only worth £37.5K. But the business is committed to paying £50K – so what happens to the difference?

Only one answer – the business absorbs the cost. Your salary is £50K plus and that’s a given overhead – cast in bronze until the next wage review.

Nor is that the only way the business is out of pocket.

What about the value of all the work you do with your Key Stage One SATS capability?

Way below par, the business has to kick in to compensate. At best for sub-standard work – at worst for all the mistakes, oversights and omissions  you make, without ever meaning to.

OK, so now it’s magic wand time.

What if you never became unwell in the first place? If something stopped you from becoming sick? Some kind of prevention – to protect you and all your fellow team members.

Abracadabra

Suddenly that £12.5K isn’t money down the drain any more.

Instead of turbo-charging through 9 nine months and then spluttering through 3 – you’re on after-burners for the full year. Up and going for it with the bit between your teeth, seriously delivering your money’s worth.

So are your colleagues – because they’re human, they have the same 57.5 day handicap you do. But with no germs to catch and so no illness to feel, they’re delivering 12 months too.

Which means if there’s 10 of them on your team, that’s £125K worth of productivity suddenly laid on the line – the equivalent of another 2¼ of you. Not exactly peanuts!

So how’s it done, socking it to presenteeism – getting rid of all the germs so the problem goes away?

A lot easier than you think.

Washing your hands of it

By upping business hygiene levels and keeping them there.

We can’t see germs, so most of the time we don’t even think that they’re there. Plus, we associate germs with dirt – and if things don’t LOOK dirty, it never occurs to us that they’re there either.

Which why we should never judge by appearances.

Germs are always everywhere. We are constantly exposed to them – viruses, bacteria, fungi.

We’re  even half-bacteria ourselves. The good bacteria that colonise our bodies, handling digestion, creating proteins, even managing our immune system.

Unaware of all this, we take chances. Horrific risks that would appal us if we realised.

Simultaneous with that are the hazards we expose ourselves to:

To make matters worse, by reflex habit, most of us touch our face up to 3,000 times a day. Responding to an an itch, pausing in thought, rubbing our eyes – playing with the soft tissue that is germs’ No 1 way into the body.

Getting rid of germs

All of which means, if you do nothing else – just putting antibacterial wipes or gel on every desk every day will bring the odds down of catching anything.

Better still, it’s possible to eliminate germs from the workplace completely – by misting up the premises with germ-killing hydrogen peroxide.  A quick and easy addition to the evening cleaning routine.

In sterile conditions, germs can’t survive. No exposure, no illnesses to catch. Everyone’s safe – at least inside. Germ zero at the start of everyday – the only germs are the ones people bring in from outside.

Sounds expensive?

It is if you’re used to paying £12 an hour for cleaning and suddenly you’re sterilising the place.

Depending on the size of the place, £1K a month or more. Around the same money the business loses in productivity through your existing presenteeism – and that’s just for one of you!

All the way to the bank

But do the math yourself. 10 on your team losing £125K a year on productivity – against £12K a year eliminating germs and winning it all back again.

That’s getting your money’s worth, surely?

3 ways germs harm your business – unless you stop them

Disagreeing woman
Just because yoiu can’t see germs doesn’t mean you can’t take action

Yes, germs really can harm your business.

Every bit as much as fire, flood or financial meltdown.

They’re probably doing harm now, except you can’t see it.

Just like you can’t see germs themselves.

They’re too microscopically small – invisible.

And the harm they do is invisible too, disguised as something else.

Or so convincingly normal, the damage is not even recognised.

Take productivity.

Professional staff in place and working hard – as good as it gets, right?

Well…

As risky as any disaster

OK, some are on leave and some are off sick, so they’re not always at 100%.

Except the rest of them probably aren’t either.

They might look well and be at their desks – but don’t think you’re getting everything you pay for.

Ever heard of presenteeism?  Check out Russell Bowyer’s excellent In-Business Blog and prepare to be shocked.

It’s when staff are at work but they’re really not up to it. Going through the motions, doing their best – but often quite literally falling down on the job.

Why?

For the same reasons that they call in sick and stay home. Around a third with physical problems – aches, pains and long-term conditions. Another third with mental issues – from family crises, to financial worries to depression. And the remaining third from illness – infections and disease caused by germs.

Harm to productivity

Familiar territory because we all share it.

Unable to function properly because our back is killing us. Or our world is falling apart from death or divorce. Or it’s only a headache and two paracetamol should handle it.

And how capable can we be, trying to do our job and feeling like that? How on the ball professional? How alert to detail? How attuned to the sensitivities of customers?

Productivity goes for a loop, right? And according to a Global Corporate Challenge report (now Virgin Pulse), we’re like that for 57.5 days a year – almost three working months.

Not very productive, is it? The expectation is twelve months of professional expertise. But  reality is nine. And not nine smooth consecutive months either.  It’s all fits and starts – intermittent performance that’s hardly reliable.

A Benenden health study reveals why.

Every three days or so, we do ourselves a mischief, or something happens to us that throws us off-key. Five cuts, five cramps, and six upset stomachs on average. Along with the three sore throats, four heartburns and four cricked necks – to a total of 124 ill health incidents we suffer each year.

Rocket link

Harm to profits

So what harm does that do to profits?

Well, the CIPD’s Absence Management Report puts absence due to sickness costs at £522 per staff member per year (£834 in the public sector).

With presenteeism at 10 times more, that’s a further £5,220 – together with absenteeism, a total of £5,742 per staff member per year.

But don’t forget the knock-on.

What kind of mistakes, omissions or oversights does that staff member make, battling with the headache, tummy cramp or laboured breathing? And what are the cost implications?

On our simple cost calculator, a staff member on a modest  £21,750 a year could easily trigger costs of up to £33,000 –  their whole salary and half as much again.

All of which is already paid out as part of the business’s regular salary bill. Invisibly siphoned away – together with the glitches more or less absorbed as a cost of doing business.

Jobs take time, mistakes happen, bite the bullet.

Plus of course, being ill at work brings the risk of infecting colleagues. So it’s not just one staffer, it could be a whole team.

And worse, if those staff members had to interact with customers – face to face, or serving food – what are the ongoing liabilities likely to be?  According to one solicitor’s website, upwards of £40,000 per customer in severe cases.

So we’re up to £73,000 per staff member per year and counting – how many businesses can afford that?

Harm to prospects

Then there’s the harm to prospects.

The reputational risk posed by under-performing staff unwell at work.

Catching a tummy bug in a restaurant could be enough to crash the business. So could one phone call to an irritable sales person on the most important deal of the year. Or the delivery driver who has a dizzy spell and skids into a shopping mall.

All of which suggests it might be cheaper to pay staff to stay away than allow them to continue at work unwell.

Or better still, take steps to prevent illness in the first place.

Not all cases can be parried of course. The long term backache or heart condition is not going to go away.

But the risk of colds, flu, norovirus, e.coli and more serious bugs can be minimised or avoided altogether by upping workplace hygiene.

Antibacterial gel or wipes on every desk. The entire place sterilised with germ-killing hydrogen peroxide mist every night. No germs to catch, except the ones staffers bring in with them.

Productivity protected. Profits protected. Prospects protected.

No harm done

No harm done – at least as far as you are able to contain it.

And a lot of money to claw back if you’ve a mind to it.

All from just germs. Out of sight, out of mind. Just like the money you’ve been paying out without realising.

Makes you think, eh?

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

Aussie flu is coming – got your workplace defence ready?

Aussie flu threat
Aussie flu is a killer – and more than people, it kills productivity too – whole organisations taken down by a germ

Yes, workplace defence.

Because who can afford to be without it when Aussie flu actually strikes?

And not just because it’s a proven killer – 73 dead already and 170,000 cases reported.

Or how much you might pay out in sick leave.

Because it’s not just staff off ill, it’s the snowballing costs that happen when sick staff cannot, or will not, stay away.

Heroes that cost you money

There they are, all rugged up and sniffly – keeping to themselves and determinedly at their desks.

Yes, loyal. And yes, committed.

Which should immediately trigger two HR alarms.

What’s so urgent that they can’t take a few days off to get well? And are they so worried about job security they’re too scared there won’t be a job when they come back?

Organisational issues, both. Except they’re the least of your worries.

Because ask yourself, how good is the work anyone can do battling with the flu?

Difficult to concentrate, right? Can’t keep your mind focused.

Or keep aware of detail either. The thousand-and-one things that good professional reflexes cope with every day.

Which means glitches inevitably.

Productivity nosedive

Quality of work way below normal – or even acceptable.

Perhaps monumental mistakes made without meaning to. Expensive oversights like a misplaced decimal point. Or failsafe procedures completely forgotten and not implemented.

Reality is that staff unwell at work are loose cannons. Costing at least 10 times more than those off sick – and more besides.

They don’t know the damage they can do – or have done.  Liabilities, not assets.

On top of which, they’re highly contagious.

A threat to other staff as well.

So it’s not just individuals out of action, it’s potentially a whole team.

Awkward in the least with any special projects or tight deadlines on the go. A downside risk not worth taking.

OK, so the bug might have originated outside the office.

But what business is safe without an effective workplace defence to protect the whole investment and everybody in it?

Deceptive appearances

Sure, the office might LOOK safe – clean, tidy and non-threatening.

But you can’t see germs. And because we’re most of the time OK, we don’t take precautions.

Which is why our day-to-day hygiene is so iffy and makes us vulnerable.

Our track record is frankly  frightening:

Nor is it just personal. Again because everything LOOKS safe, we’re careless about our surroundings as well.

It gets worse.

Because shocking those these statistics are, they only deal with surface germs.  Viruses and bacteria on our skin, clothes and the objects we come in contact with.

It’s in the air

But 80% of any workplace is also air space. Room to move around in, room to breathe, room to stop us feeling claustrophobic.

And remember, Aussie flu is highly contagious. And ALL germs are airborne – difficult not to be when they weigh nothing and are only 2 microns across.

Which makes riding the air the major cause of how germs spread. A good many may only infect on contact, but they ALL disperse by being airborne. How else do new infections turn up out of nowhere for the very first time?

On top of which, we all drag our own personal cloud of germs around with us like a halo.

So it’s not just the exploding sneeze that spreads Aussie flu round the office. There’s millions more germ particles wafting around already. Waiting to infect their next victim unless there’s a workplace defence in place.

All of which says it’s not IF Aussie flu might strike in your workplace, but WHEN. And if not Aussie flu, then for certain something equally damaging to productivity, morale and physical wellbeing.

Effective defence

So what kind of workplace defence is effective?

You could do a lot worse than put bottles of antibacterial gel or hand-wipes  on every desk.

Our hands touch everything we use and work with. As well as our faces, which we subconsciously reach for several times a minute – as many as 2,000–3,000 times a day.  Bingo, unwashed hands on soft sensitive tissue around eyes and mouth are germs’ number one way into our bodies.

That still of course leaves the air – and all those un-get-at-able places that regular cleaning never reaches.

No problem. If germs can be airborne, so can your workplace defence system.

Which is what makes misting up the place with hydrogen peroxide so effective.

IONISED hydrogen peroxide that is. So it actively disperses everywhere – through the air and across all surfaces – reaching out and grabbing germs like magnets grab iron filings.

Sterile and safe

Result, the workplace is sterilised. No germs anywhere, they’re all completely oxidised. Nothing lingering anywhere, so no infection to catch – including Aussie flu.

Now all you have to do is make sure sick staff actually do stay away. You have an effective workplace defence now, don’t let unwell workaholics undo all the good work.

Good on yer, Bruce!

Picture Copyright: trustieee / 123RF Stock Photo

Why you always wind up catching every bug around

Out of it in Oxford Street
Bugs are like buses – nothing for a long time, then five come along together

Cough, splutter – every bug around.

Seems you can’t help yourself.

And as soon as you’re over the first, the next one’s on the way.

Blame it on your hectic lifestyle.

Always on the go, no time to stop. Rushed meals, not enough sleep, too much happening at once.

Stress. Yes, that’s it.

Your body’s immune system is down  because of stress – and catching every bug is paying the price.

What a load of old tosh.

Germ reality check

Oh sure, you’re catching every bug. Because your body’s in a state the germs find easy to get in.

But not stressed.

More like undefended.

Those germs are coming at you all the time – just like they do for all of us – and you’re doing nothing to stop them.

Colds, flu, norovirus, UTI, e.coli – your list of absences reads like a calendar, every month of the year.

Yes, but if that was stress, you’d be out of circulation by now – permanently surrounded by a crowd of worried consultants in white coats.

In the meantime, you’re still catching every bug.

OK, let’s ask you a question.

You’re always one the move, with no time for yourself – can’t even remember breakfast it was so long ago, if you didn’t skip it altogether…  So when was the last time you properly washed your hands? The real thing with soap and hot water, having a good old scrub?

Can’t remember?

Come on in, door’s open

Not surprising.

Because chances are you’ve gone through the whole morning without any chance of getting to the washroom. And now you’re grabbing a quick salad wrap al desko, gulping down it quick so you’re ready for those heavyweight clients this afternoon.

And during all this time you’ve handled your keys, money, phone, the railings in the street, grab-handle on the bus and again in the Underground, lift button, door handle, security keypad and a whole stack of documents.

So inside or outside, whatever germs are on them, your hands have picked them up too.

And because ALL of us touch our face repeatedly throughout the day, those germs have easy continuous access through the soft tissue round your eyes, nose and mouth. Or are hitching a free ride down your throat with every mouthful of salad wrap.

Open doors, see. And without soap and water – or a wipe-down with antibacterial gel – you’re letting them in without checking their boarding pass. No permit, no visa, they’re on their way to create mayhem and you’re just letting them.

Which is why you’re always coming down with every bug around.

So it’s not stress, it’s forgotten hygiene.

Pushed out of the way by a busy lifestyle. And the illusion that most of the time your hands LOOK clean.

Deceptive though, because germs are so small, they’re invisible.  Microscopic. You could have 3 million on your little finger and never know. Very iffy when it only takes 10 to come down with norovirus.

Germ soup

It’s not just your hands either. It’s everything. We think we’re in clean, clear air – but reality is we’re constantly swimming around in a germ soup.

Take a look in a fish tank – one of those jobs with a light in the top, so you can see the fish.

See all that stuff in suspension? Algae. They’re microbes too. Like bacteria and viruses. Tiny particles catching the light – just floating there, not rising or sinking. Exactly like germs are in the air around us.

Which means they’re on your desk, your skin, your clothes and everything you touch. So even if you clean your hands, they’re instantly covered in germs again as soon as you touch anything that hasn’t also been cleaned.

Plus of course they’re always there in the air itself – germs floating and swirling around, just like in the fish tank.

Except just like most of us never clean our hands, we never clean the air either. And anyway, how do you take a scrubbing brush to a handful of nothing?

Scrubbing the air

So sitting in your office with your colleagues around you, all those germs, all those open doors – is it any wonder you catch every bug around?

They can be stopped though. Eliminated completely by sterilising the place every night  when everybody’s gone home. Easy-peasy with one of those ionised air-misting jobbies.

Oh sure, a whole lot more come in from outside when people arrive in the morning. But at least the pace is germ-free to start with. None on any surface, or in the air – the place is safe.

Now at least, you stand a fighting chance. Make hands clean as often as you can – and keep everything clean around you – germs get less of a look in.

No more days off sick.

Or more likely with colds and tummy twinges – because you can’t take time off so easily when you’re half-sick – sitting at your desk feeling like grim death.

But that’s not you any more. With no germs around, there’s no sick to feel.

So you’re up and running, full of the joys of spring. And every bug around is somewhere else.

And the very best of health to you!

Picture Copyright: deryaduzen / 123RF Stock Photo