Category Archives: Wellness

Workplace wellness, check. But how about illness prevention?

Infection protection
Getting rid of the germs BEFORE they do any damage – that’s illness prevention in action. Photo by Gabriel Gurrola on Unsplash

Illness prevention? Ask the air traffic control people at Gatwick Airport.

A vital job handled by highly skilled people. Yet just as vulnerable as any other business to staff calling in sick at the last minute. Especially more than one.

Because where’s the backup – and the backup for the backups – that such critical roles demand?

Standing into danger

Without illness prevention, and two down out of a team of three, the options are rigidly clear. Watch the one remaining controller like a hawk. And shut down the airport at the slightest sign of stress – or whenever the poor plane-pusher has to take a break.

Which is of course, exactly what happened this week – luckily in the graveyard shift, when few flights had to be diverted.

It could have been worse – in the middle of the day at the height of the half-term break – AND simultaneous with an air traffic control strike in Europe.

Not much complementary gym membership and free keep fit classes can do against that, no matter how healthy it makes people. When illness strikes, wellness packages make no difference. The business goes down and there’s not much to do about it – just hope the fallout is minimal.

Unless of course, there’s a Plan B. The get-out-of-jail-free card of illness prevention.

Three air traffic controllers working closely together in the intense, air-conditioned control room of the world’s busiest single-runway airport and one of them coughing his lungs out?

A disaster waiting to happen – hopefully not the plane crash type.

But just as disastrous in an accounts office – except somehow the setback is accepted. It happens, people get ill, what can you do?

Invoking Plan B

Stop illnesses happening in the first place of course. Exactly what illness prevention is about.

Stopping germs, avoiding infection, reducing exposure to harmful conditions.

Mould, for instance. Often a factor in so-called “sick building syndrome.” Damp in the building, mould spores in the air, lots of people with respiratory problems – colds, flu, asthma.

And all transferring in a never-ending cycle. Infecting first one person, then another. Round and round, touching everybody – because we all work closely together, breathing the same air, sharing the same space.

Sharing the same infections too.

As the woman on crutches said in A&E, listening to all the coughs and wheezes of a busy Saturday night, “If you haven’t got it yet, you’re going to get it here.”

Unless there’s an illness prevention Plan B.

Something to stop or reduce the effect of that sneezing air traffic controller from passing on germs to the other two – head down and stuck at their desks, unable to escape from radar screens and status monitors.

Illness prevention – no germs, no risk

Like, just suppose there were no germs in the first place.

First sign of any illness or infection, the sufferer is sent home to get well in isolation – reducing the threat to the others still holding the fort. No germs to circulate – or less than there were when the victim was still present.

Next, how about the whole place is sterilised at the end of the day? Any lingering germs totally neutralised, eliminated, zeroed, dialled to nought.

And that really means the whole place. The shared air space, which is 80% of any room; all the walls, ceiling and floor; under and behind all furniture; deep into all cracks and crevices. And of course all the things that everybody touches all the time – light switches, door handles, touchscreens, keyboards, documents, pens, keys, money, everything.

Slightly more effective than a wellness package, right?

More likely to keep the business going without interruption. Or threats to its safety and operating budget.

Effective illness prevention.

It’s a Plan B that works.

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.

Reference links checked and working at time of posting.  However, some URLs may be taken down or re-sited later. If your link goes nowhere or you get an Error 404 message, please accept our apologies.

How much do you LOSE from staff coming to work ill?

The End of It All - you win, you lose
Hope for the best, plan for the worst – staff illness at work can lose you thousands, and even the business. Photo by Andrew Amistad on Unsplash

There’s no easy way to soften this – you can lose everything.

Not at all the same as if staff are absent on sick leave – you only lose time and input for that.

Lose without realising

But sitting poorly at their desks, suffering in silence – you lose from inefficiency and poor performance. You lose from underpowered output and things getting done wrong.

They might try their hardest – determinedly taking up their place and putting in the effort.

But you still lose.

They are not themselves, the professional capabilities you hired them for are not fully deployed. So yes, they’re present and committed, and all the good things.

But you lose from under-delivery and all its knock-on effects. Which in salary terms alone costs ten  times more than if they’d stayed home.

More than machines?

Quite right, they’re not machines and shouldn’t be treated like they are.

Or maybe they should. At least if a machine is malfunctioning, it gets attention.

First it’s turned off, and put safely offline – no faulty output, product integrity is maintained. Then it gets tuned, adjusted or repaired – brought back to 100% capability.

No comebacks from poor performance or sub-standard quality. A machine only goes back online once it’s tested and verified to be working correctly.

Straight economic common sense, right? Inferior product is not an option – because letting it continue is a sure-fire way of going out of business.

But here’s Felicity with a grim smile, slightly more pale than usual – nowhere near her bubbly  self. And doubled up with stomach cramps when she thinks you’re not looking. Teeth clenched and determined to go the extra mile.

What is it, gastro? Salmonella, campylobacter or e. coli?

Does it matter? They’re all germs to be picked up on contact, or breathed in.

And Felicity’s hard at it – fingers flying over the keyboard, punching in phone numbers, paging through the same documents, and hitting the same light switches as everybody else.

Which means whatever she’s got, it’s on their fingers too. Only a matter of time and it’ll be their turn. And they’ll be like her, making the effort. Sitting at their desks, pretending nothing is wrong.

Looks OK, but isn’t

The extra mile, but why?

Ashamed to let colleagues down, saddling them with extra work? Worried about job security, that there’ll be a job to come back to if she stays away?

So she sits there, malfunctioning, even hiding it from you. Any glitches risk being unchecked and proceeding undetected.

You may never know – even when customers quit. Or when a major calamity happens, two years down the line.

All you know is, somehow you lose. So customers quit – that happens, it’s a cost of doing business. So a calamity happens – things go pear-shaped, right? Not a lot you can do about them.

Excuse us, that’s a load of codswallop.

If staff are up to speed and properly themselves all the time, glitches shouldn’t happen. After all, you hired them, and you set the rules – as good as they could be from the get-go, right?

Except they aren’t – and that’s why you lose.

And why you’re losing right now.

3 months out of every 12

Because – if you didn’t click the last link, click this one now – being unwell at work happens to all of us. 57.5 days a year, almost three working months.

Every third day or so something gives us a strange turn, the bod shows strain, and we wind up feeling less than we should.

Three working months, that’s a whole quarter. Impaired performance that you’re paying for – short change out of the nine good months a year that justify your investment. And those are just the salary issues.

How about what you lose from mistakes, missed deadlines, fumbled finger-work – or simply taking longer to do things because peoples’ brains feel like boiled knitting?

It could be thousands and thousands (here’s a calculator to check) – money you lose without realising it, because that’s the way it’s always been.

And it’s not just one person, it’s all of them. All sharing the same space, touching the same things, breathing the same air. Every one of them exposed to every other. So that any illness, any germ, transfers perpetually – round and round, infecting and re-infecting.

So that all the time, you lose.

Lose and win

Unless of course, you do something to stop the germs.

Take them out, eliminate them – make your workplace a sterile haven that can’t harm any one. No germs in the air, no germs on any surface, no germs on the fomites we all touch and share – keys, light switches, door handles, touch screens, money, every little thing.

Stop the germs and you stop standing to lose – start reaping dividends, no longer paying for unseen liabilities.

Which doesn’t cost a fortune, or anything like it.

But that’s what you COULD lose, isn’t it?

One really bad unintended mistake could cost the whole business.

Unless you lose and win.

Lose the germs, and people stop coming to work ill. They’re on full song, feeling good and going for it – and earning every penny of their salaries.

And all those losses you never knew you were making?

All gone. Now it’s money for jam.

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.

Reference links checked and working at time of posting.  However, some URLs may be taken down or re-sited later. If your link goes nowhere or you get an Error 404 message, please accept our apologies.

How many staff wellness plans actually prevent illness?

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

Most staff wellness plans are anything but.

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

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

Staff wellness and staff wellness

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

Not active intervention to prevent them becoming ill.

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

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

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

Every three days

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

Enough to affect our performance though.

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

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

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

Three working months

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A pain in the…

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

How about the rest?

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

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

Tick, tick

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

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

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

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

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

Not feeling so good?

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

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

How come?

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

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

Everyday health hazard

Our own personal hygiene is not much better.

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

No germs, no problems

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

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

Which where a decent staff wellness plan really scores.

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

Productivity for every employee UP BY NEARLY A THIRD.

And the price tag?

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

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

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

About this blog

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

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

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

Staff health costs: big losses or huge gains?

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

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

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

Except OK is not OK, is it?

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

Staff health for winners

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

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

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

Rev them up enough and you can rule the world.

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

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

The wellbeing imperative

Alright, so how about feelgood?

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

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

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

Nice thinking, but not about staff health is it?

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

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

No time for losers – or winners

Precisely where staff health takes a dive.

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

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

Without that balance, staff health quickly takes its toll.

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

No, not actually – but partially.

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

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

Slow going

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

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

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

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

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

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

Off-tune, off-song

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

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

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

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

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

But what if it wasn’t like that?

Take Five

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

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

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

Which is where staff health really starts paying dividends.

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

And guess what?

All about time

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

Want more still?

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

About this blog

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No-brainer. No contest. Sorted.

Well think of it.

Cost of unwellness

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

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

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

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

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

A no-brainer in itself, isn’t it?

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

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

The no-brainer no-brainer

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

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

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

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

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

Cost of faking it

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

Uh, huh – so why?

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

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

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

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

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

All in the mind

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

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

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

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

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

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

Time to heal

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

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

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

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

Safe and secure

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

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

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

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

About this blog

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

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

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

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

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

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

That’s if you believe the glossy brochure.

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

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

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

Wellness or money?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Real world perspective

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

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

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

For Pete’s sake, they even encourage them!

Ever heard of gym germs?

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

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

Unhealthy workplace

Meanwhile, the average office isn’t much better.

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

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

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

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

Wellness, schmellness

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

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

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

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

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

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

Which means getting rid of three things:

  • Germs
  • Stress
  • Pain

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

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

Tick, tick

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

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

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

Which leaves pain.

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

Unless you give away time for this too.

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

So wellness programmes, get real.

Start thinking illness prevention.

About this blog

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

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

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

Why you CAN afford to let staff pull a sickie

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

What kind of sickie, fake or real?

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

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

Your people investment

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

Huh? Already paid? Investment?

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

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

And you’re paying for a lot more besides.

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

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

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

The price of sickies-on-the-job

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Affects everybody

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

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

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

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

Twelve months’ salaries, nine months’ work

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

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

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

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

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

Super-boss

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

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

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

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

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

Inspired, motivated, committed

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now who would want to pull a sickie after that?

About this blog

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

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

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

Boost productivity by up to a third – without investing millions

Exec pondering millions in invesment
Millions for the future – by recovering millions from the present

Yes, yes, British productivity is lagging. We have to up our game – millions for infrastructure, millions for digital technology.

Which is great, if we’ve got millions. But what if we haven’t?

What if, like a lot of businesses, things are just scraping by, productivity is down and it’s slowing everything further?

Hold that thought, slowing everything down.

Held back and handicapped

Like things are dragging, wheels locked and brakes full on.

Because that’s exactly what’s happening.

We’re all working harder and longer, going the extra mile – slaving an extra 29 days every year according to reports, with one in 10 of us working the equivalent of 15 months a year

And still our productivity trails 18 points behind other G7 nations.

How come we work more and produce less – compared with the Germans, who work less (35 hours a week average) and produce more?

It’s not like we’re stupid or lazy. Our brightest minds are world leaders, and lazy people could never stomach the hours most of us put in.

So however much we splurge on the latest bells and whistles, we might at best still find ourselves level pegging with the other G7. While the Germans motor past us, laughing all the way to the bank.

Millions and millions and millions.

Breaking the shackles

But driving things forward has never been our problem – it’s breaking the shackles that hold us back.

OK, a lot of businesses are starting to recognise this – and revising the ways they value their human capital. They’re not machines, they need looking after. Inspiration, engagement and involvement are the new watchwords – and wellbeing is the new game.

Lots of positive thinking – which is why nobody ever addresses the negative. It’s treating symptoms, not cause. Exploring remedies before isolating what ails us.

What ails us – meet the elephant in the room.

What makes us sick is seldom on anybody’s radar – including the sufferer’s. We get sick, we get sick – it happens, and most of us just accept it.

Accept and keep schtum.

Because sick is what most of us are, a lot of the time at work.

The stiff upper lip

But we don’t let on, in case it gets us fired. Replaced by somebody younger and hungrier. Or in case our colleagues feel let down. Forced into double tasking without a by your leave. Or because we’re too damned responsible for our own good and can’t relinquish the work load.

It’s the curse of presenteeism – and we’re all party to it. The British stiff upper lip.

Being unwell at work, but carrying on anyway. Slogging onwards with head pounding and guts heaving, hoping nobody will notice. Desk-pounding when we should be home in bed with antibiotics and a hot water bottle, keeping our germs away from colleagues.

57.5 days a year, we’re like that – almost three working months. Stressed out like crazy because we know we’re not performing. And shockingly ignorant that a lot of the time, we’re ill from sloppy hygiene at work.

And sloppy is being kind, most of the time it’s disgusting. Because we can’t see germs, we don’t even think of the danger, let alone trying to avoid it.

But germs can, and do, kill. Or do us permanent damage. Even the smallest infection can trigger life-threatening consequences, ten or twenty years down the line.

For hygiene, read logiene

Meanwhile, our workplace preventive measures are almost non-existent.

On the personal level, we’re even worse – as if we have a death wish:

Which is why, for nearly three months of the year, the work we’re capable of is sometimes barely competent. Everything has to be done twice, and is invariably late when it gets there. Nobody can concentrate when they’re not themselves – though we like to kid ourselves that we can.

Millions in germonomics

But look at the economics of that – or should we say, the germonomics.

Three months of the year, the team are basically out of action – at their desks yes, but really just going through the motions. Effectively that means they only work nine months of the year, not twelve. Nowhere near as productive as we’d like to think.

Now suppose with just a little investment in health protection, you could remove germs from the workplace entirely. Make the place sterile – no viruses, no bacteria, no fungi, no nothing. Yes, it can be done – and yes, the technology exists now.

Get rid of the germs and 57.5 days a year of being unwell at work melt into the distant past. Out of the blue, three extra working months become available, alongside the nine months worth of work currently – productivity up a third.

The self-funding future

Better still, it’s already paid for.

Salaries stay the same, at a full twelve months worth. Only now the business is getting its full money’s worth – three months up on the minimal nine months possible previously. The end of a three months handicap – no wonder productivity was down!

Which means unlike investing millions in a digital future, the business saves millions from the existing present. Millions, which if then invested in technology, are like setting the afterburners to warp speed.

Them Germans had better watch out – laughing all the way to the bank indeed.

Hans, was ist los?

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.

Why loads of corporate wellness plans carry a bitter taste

Worried lady is she bitter?
Plenty to be bitter about – one day we’re all going to be fat, no matter how good the corporate wellness plans

Ever tasted antibiotics? Probably not, they’re bitter as all hell.

Which you’ll know soon enough if you bite through a capsule without meaning to.

Except, excuse us, what do antibiotics have to do with corporate wellness plans?

Only that they’re why most corporate wellness plans exist in the first place.

And with growing realisation that looking after employee health is a major business objective, corporate wellness plans are already the Next Big Thing.

The wellness bandwagon

Look no further than the new emphasis on physical activity in business workplaces. Big buck outfits put in swimming pools and running tracks, while smaller ones have gyms. Or if budgets can’t stretch to that, sponsored membership of the keep-fit centre down the road.

Skilled staff are assets to be wooed and cultivated long-term. So the new drive is an investment against long-term health conditions like the nation’s rapidly increasing obesity epidemic. Two thirds of British adults are already overweight or obese, marking them inevitably as future victims of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

Which is why pretty well all front-line businesses are gung-ho for a “fitness against fatness” strategy.

There’s only one problem.

Yes, we’re all getting fatter, which is not good for our long-term health. And yes, most office jobs are sedentary and involve very little moving around. But while exercise and fitness is undoubtedly a good thing, it often has little or no effect on encouraging weight loss.

That’s because, as Lord McColl, emeritus professor of surgery at Guys Hospital and former shadow health minister told Parliament last year, “It is impossible to be obese unless one is eating too many calories.”

The bitter pill

Ergo, we’re fat because we’re eating too much.

And why, after thousands of years of our bodies most of the time naturally remaining slim and trim, are we suddenly eating more than we should?

It’s a bitter pill to swallow, but we all do it without knowing.

We’re all eating too much because of antibiotics.

Unless we’re farmers, few of us are aware that antibiotics are phenomenal growth boosters – used in great volumes across the board for food production to sustain our massive explosion in population growth over the past 65 years – from 2½ billion worldwide in 1952 to 7½ billion today.

We think of antibiotics as medicines, the miracle life-savers of our modern age. In reality this is a side effect, now secondary to their main function as growth boosters in agriculture. Believe it or not, 240,000 tonnes of antibiotics are shovelled into animal and plant production every year.

Like it or not, that means sustained sub-therapeutic doses of antibiotics are in everything we eat – meat or vegetable – particularly over the last 20 years with the introduction of factory farming.

Without any idea that it’s happening, our own bodies react in the same way to these continuous low doses. We eat more and more, beyond when our natural needs and requirements would normally tell us to stop.

Obesity epidemic

So like the animals, we fatten up fast – but with a difference. They are only going to survive 45 weeks, until they are ready for market. We keep on going, not just getting fat but getting fatter – almost accepted as the new norm. So everyday in fact, that there is now an international resort that caters expressly for the plus-sized.

Not good news for corporate wellness planners. Enough to make them bitter and twisted. Because no matter how elaborate the facilities they put in to encourage our fitness, with the exception of the health-obsessed, we’re all just going to get fatter.

The very long-term health conditions they’re trying to avoid are on their way – we’re literally eating ourselves into diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

Nor is that the only thing to be bitter about.

With all the big bucks focus on corporate wellness, nobody seems to be thinking workplace health protection. A running track might be great for muscle tone, but it won’t stop a tummy bug like norovirus. Nor will antibiotics, come to that – though we strongarm the Doc for them.

Antibiotics: a living curse

Meanwhile our workplaces are crawling with germs that may never be removed, even with regular cleaning. On high-touch surfaces and in the air – a possibly deadly health hazard most corporate planners are never aware of – and a £319 billion dent in our national productivity.

Plenty to be bitter about – though workplace germs CAN be eliminated at the touch of a button.

The bigger problem is antibiotics. We can’t live with them, and we can’t live without them. They save lives, but antimicrobial resistance from overuse is rapidly making them useless. And they promote growth – bigger animals, quicker; larger plant crops, faster – without which there wouldn’t be enough food to feed us all.

Altogether, a train we cannot get off.

No good being bitter about it though – and at least we get amazing places to work in.

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.