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.

Originally posted on 22 January 2018 @ 4:37 pm

Worried about Disease X? Good thing you have an illness prevention plan

End of tether
It’s happening. Soon ANY illness will be just as deadly as Disease X – unless you avoid it first. Photo by Evan Kirby on Unsplash

Super-nasty, super-superbug, Disease X. The one that hits the news more and more these days. Dodgier than Ebola, in a horror class all by itself. Get that thing running around your office and you’re in big trouble.

Invincible. Unstoppable. The next we’re-all-going-to-die pandemic.

Deadly dangerous, like all the other we’re-all-going-to-die pandemics we already face, but don’t want to know about.

The devil we know

All just as fatal as Disease X. And already here – long before Disease X has even got out of bed.

Because excuse us, we forgot to mention – Disease X doesn’t exist yet.

Scientists are just pondering that it could. The nightmare of a nasty lethal pathogen that could even be man-made – and totally resistant to any medicine we could throw at it. Immune to vaccines and antibiotics. The end of the world.

Exactly like the growing list of viruses and bacteria we already have no defence against.

CRE for instance – carbapenem-resistant enterobacteriaceae – a bacterium resistant to ALL antibiotics. The poor lady who caught it in India last year went through 26 antibiotics, including all aminoglycosides and polymyxins – and still she died.

It could happen to us next week. And not from any rare infection, or some germ-warfare zombie-killer that hasn’t been invented yet. Ordinary flu will do. Or blood poisoning from a simple paper cut.

Or any one of the other common or garden illnesses that all of us come down with, at least once or twice a year.

The end of modern medicine

Antimicrobial resistance is why. As doctors are continually warning us, overuse of antibiotics – more than one third of prescriptions for them are totally unnecessary – has accelerated the development of effective immunity by the very bacteria they’re trying to treat.

It’s a warning Dr Dame Sally Davies, England’s Chief Medical Officer has made repeatedly, spelling the end of modern medicine.

“Without the drugs used to fight infections, common medical interventions such as caesarean sections, cancer treatments and hip replacements would become incredibly risky and transplant medicine would be a thing of the past,” she says.

Which means there’s no difference between ordinary gastroenteritis and Disease X. As antimicrobial resistance accelerates, within as little as a few months, they could both be just as deadly. Both panresistant – able to withstand ANY medication – meaning certain death for anyone unlucky enough to catch them.

Effective defence

Which is where your illness prevention plan comes in.

No, not one of those keep-fit packages, or dietary wellness jobs. We mean a real, deliberate anti-illness measure that eliminates germs in the workplace altogether. If there are no germs to catch, nobody can get ill.

Which means not just saving money on sick leave absence, or underpowered efforts from staff unwell at work. You’re almost certainly saving one of your team’s lives.

And it’s not that difficult either.

You already pay to have the place cleaned regularly. Probably a minor expense to vacuum the place daily, wipe down the desks and empty the rubbish.

For a few bob more, you can sterilise the place as well. Treat everything from top to bottom, every night when staff have gone home.

Germ-zero

Next morning, when they’re back again, it’s germ-zero. No viruses or bacteria anywhere – not even Disease X, if it pops up within the next week or so.

Kinda vital when folks make a thing of washing their hands and maybe wearing facemasks – spooked by Disease X.

If their hands are clean and the office is at germ-zero, there’s no danger from touching anything that might transfer infection. Fomites, they’re called – anything from touchscreens to keyboards, light switches, door handles, to simply the pieces of paper that all work seems to involve.

Yes, a good thing that you have that plan.

Because Disease X might science-fiction at the moment.

But Diseases A and B are very real, if you think of Aussie flu and norovirus. And who wants to die from them?

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.

Originally posted on 12 March 2018 @ 6:01 pm

Productivity: how most British businesses are standing on the brake

Employee Health Protection
Not healthy – businesses 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!

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.

Originally posted on 24 November 2017 @ 3:21 pm

Originally posted on 24 November 2017 @ 3:21 pm

Boosting productivity: how to work harder by taking it easy

Sofa work
Ever noticed productivity goes up when it’s easy?

Productivity, productivity, how staff must hate that word. Working longer, working harder, always going the extra mile. No easy way out.

Faster, faster! Seems there’s no escape from having to work MORE, just to stay in the same place.

Yeah sure, not so bad if there’s extra money and longer holidays up for grabs. Though neither can lessen the pain.

All those hours lost, families fragmented, personal life down the tubes – where’s the magic?

Enjoyment vs resentment

Carrot and stick, see? Working late like everybody else does.

Because that’s what it takes to still have a job. Nobody WANTS to slave. But everybody HAS to. With brooding resentment every step of the way.

Which is one hell of a way to run a railroad – or anything else for that matter. Nineteenth Century sweatshop thinking. Head-on into everything and coming unstuck.

Much simpler to go with the flow. Bending with challenges and shaping around them. Making them work FOR you and not AGAINST.

Working harder by taking it easy.

Advanced technology and AI (Artificial Intelligence), for instance. Finishing in seconds where us humans take days or weeks.

Fast, yes – but not necessarily smart. Great for industry and automated business. Not so hot in the real world, where the business is satisfying people. Customers of course – and those amazing people called staff. The ones who make it all happen.

The very same who are always working those extra hours.

And what do they get for it? Tired, worn-out, nervous, irritable and depressed.

The productivity puzzle

Unwell of course with it, but unable to stay away. Jobs are few, nobody gets paid sick leave, and there might not even be a job to come back to afterwards.

Exactly why British productivity is down the tubes. The productivity puzzle they call it, though a solution is within reach – just by taking it easy.

Experts agree the puzzle started in 2008, with the financial crash. Redundancies, cutbacks, firms going belly up – kind of inevitable productivity took a dip.

But surprise, surprise, absenteeism took a dip too. With jobs thin on the ground, it was not the time to stay away from work if you were sick. Ten to one if you did, there’d be a junior in your place at half the salary. Bargain basement work quality, but money was tight.

Check the records. From 163.2 million days lost in 2007 just before the recession, absenteeism plunged 20% to 132.4 million days lost in 2011 – with only marginal recovery since.

Loud warning bells, right there.

People don’t suddenly stop getting sick. And germs don’t suddenly stop attacking us – after four billion years as the most successful life forms, they’ve learned to never give up. Reality check: in the whole history of the world, there’s never been such a thing as a get-well epidemic.

So if they didn’t take off sick, what were these people doing?

Unwell-at-work syndrome

Going to work unwell, of course. Toughing it out and pretending they were OK. And reality check again: hiding it as best they could from colleagues and employers. Whatever their numbers look like, the true picture is far worse.

And the truth is that since 2008, presenteeism – that’s people unwell at work – has increased steadily.  There are no official figures, as the issue is largely invisible. But with the all-pervasive culture of long hours now firmly established, it’s not unreasonable to suggest they’ve doubled.

And productivity in the meantime?

Down 15% on other G7 countries. 27% less than the Germans  and 31% less than the French. Hence the Euro-joke that it takes the Brits an extra day to do a week’s work.

Well, yes. For so many of us, it’s doing the job with one hand tied behind our backs.

Exactly what it’s like trying to work when you’re not well.

Hard to focus when your body’s out of balance. Just keeping your mind on the job becomes a mission. Mistakes get made, deadlines get missed, business flies out the window. Get really unlucky, and the whole company could crash.

OK, so in easy steps, how do we turn things around?

Prevention is better than cure

Prevention is better than cure – remember that one?

Eliminate germs that cause illness, and the problem turns around.

Because make no mistake, the germs are there – in their billions, just like normal. Too small to see so they’re not on our radar – but we are certainly on theirs. And because we not aware of them, we leave ourselves wide open to attack, particularly in the workplace.

For instance, as we’ve pointed out many times:

Again, because we can’t see germs, our personal hygiene is not much better.

From germ-free to engagement

Getting rid of germs therefore is like saving us from ourselves.

And it’s easier than we might think. A nightly mist-up with ionised hydrogen peroxide takes out ALL germs in the air and across all surfaces to make the place sterile.  As simple as pressing a button, it makes workplaces safe and secure for around £30 a day – probably less than the existing office cleaning bill.

It’s a proactive step too.

More positive than pretty well all staff wellness programmes. In their excellent Absence Management report, the CIPD list TWO PAGES of popular wellbeing options – from counselling, to gym membership, to healthcare packages – but not one addresses health protection.

But if there’s no germs, there are no illnesses to catch. A big impact from any staff point of view. Effectively demonstrating with actions not words that management is concerned for their welfare. That keeping them well and healthy is a top-level priority, and a major gesture at encouraging engagement. How’s that for effective motivation and retention?

A major boost to work quality too – without any demands on staff commitment. No longer hours to work, no extra mile to go, staff can give fully of themselves without being impeded by health issues.

So, with the ball rolling – and a boost to staff output capability now climbing by up to a third – productivity should be well on the upswing.

Productivity by involvement

Continuing staff engagement maintains this momentum. Dialogue to gain their involvement, listening sessions to ease their anguish. The easy but crucial step, from old-style Us & Them conflict, to useful two-way partnership.

Involvement, yes – because Beryl from Accounts knows more about VLookups in Excel than the IT consultant about to commit thousands on yet another system upgrade. The consultant might never touch Excel, but Beryl uses it daily.

And anguish, because everybody feels some – which could be stress, emotional strain, relationship issues or financial worries. Except a problem shared is a problem halved, especially if the boss is sympathetic – an engagement landmark and another notch up for recovering productivity.

On the road again

See? All of them easy steps, all of them key to everyone working better, enjoying what they do, feeling mutual respect and sharing their commitment to get on with the job.

Smarter, right?

A quantum leap from the Dark Ages of harder, faster, stronger.

So easy does it. Smarter, friendlier, healthier.

Productivity up and on the road again.

Picture Composite: Jordon Whitfield and Neonbrand on Unsplash

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.

Originally posted on 30 November 2017 @ 5:05 pm

Originally posted on 30 November 2017 @ 5:05 pm

Our £319 BILLION productivity ball and chain

Productivity ball and chain
Unseen and unrecognised: the £319 billion unwellness issues holding productivity back

Why does British productivity keep dragging its heels? Because £319 billion of health issues are holding us back.

All the other things – lagging investment, ageing infrastructure, accelerating technology, diminishing experience and ever-younger staff – they’re all fixable, usually by throwing money at them.

But an unwell work force is not even on management radar.

Workers’ wellbeing yes, fitness packages, health advice and feelgood incentives are all over the place.

£319 billion of wheelspin

But £319 billion of unwell costs? Is anybody looking? Do they even know it exists?

Because that kind of money is not chickenfeed. More like ten times our defence budget. Three times the Brexit get-out bill. Two-and-a-half times the NHS budget.

And still nobody’s twigging it.

Management, government and consultants are all gung-ho, demanding full throttle. Meanwhile we’re still shackled to the wall, brakes hard on and going nowhere – the least performing economy among leading G7 countries. Lots of noise, but just wheelspin.

You see, £319 billion is the all-up cost of being unwell among work staff.  £29 billion for absenteeism. And £290 billion of presenteeism – people not well, but going to work anyway, a growing measure of wonky job security.

Wonky?

Oh yes.

Since 2008 and the financial crash, absenteeism has been falling steadily, down around 20%. Good, right?

We wish.

Rising costs

Presenteeism however, already 10 times greater – is on the increase.  Exactly how much is hard to calculate. Staff are reluctant to admit they have a condition, even to themselves . Many are convinced showing weakness could cost their jobs. So they tough it out, pretending otherwise.

We’ve all been there, to some level or other. Choosing to go to work with a cold, instead of staying home. We won’t get paid and it could be a black mark. Better than finding a replacement’s been hired while you weren’t at your desk.

So we go to work anyway, dosed up to the eyeballs. Day Nurse or something like it – so concentration is a bit loopy, there’s maybe a headache, blurred vision, ringing in the ears and we’re irritable as all hell.

Brains not working

Not exactly the best way to ensure proper service and attention to detail. A trap  for making mistakes or oversights too. And isn’t it a drag that everything takes so long?

Oh, and yes. We sneeze and throw tissues around, so our colleagues come down with it too. Or failing that, the HVAC system stirs our germs, upholding equal opportunity.

Or maybe it’s not a cold, but something worse. Flu, or a tummy bug, picked up from one of those high-touch surfaces around the office – door handle or light switch, or the START button on the photocopier.

Out of order minds

You can see it, can’t you? We’re not ourselves when we’re not well.  And most of us wind up with some kind of issue – minor injury, sprain, cut, infection, or food reaction every three days.

Hardly surprising either , when you realise how lax workplace hygiene can be:

Our personal hygiene is pretty lax too – we can’t see germs, so we think we’re OK. Meanwhile:

All of which is how come presenteeism is as high as it is – an average of 57.5 days a year, almost three working months. A quarter of a year lost to unfocused and non-concentrating minds – some ball and chain!

Which of course is why productivity is continually as low as it is. Businesses are paying for a full twelve months’ performance, but staff are only capable of delivering nine.

Knock-on effect

On top of that is the knock-on effect from errors and omissions made while unwell at work. A lot of money and a lot of time, with often below-standard levels of quality.

One heck of an issue not to be aware of – and one heck a lot of money to lose without realising it. The elephant is in the room, but nobody has recognised it yet – all £319 billion of it.

And fixing is just as invisible. Getting rid of germs is push-button easy for around the same cost as daily charring – a demonstration to staff that management actively cares  for their health AND wellbeing.

But it needs an attitude shift to capitalise on it.

Stay away

The workplace might be germ-free and sterile, but it has to be kept that way. If staff pick up an illness from outside, no matter how small, they should be encouraged to stay away. Because they spread germs that colleagues can catch. And because in their germified state, they contaminate everything they touch.

Encouraging a stay-away reassures staff, protects colleagues and promotes goodwill all round. And anyway, with flexible working, being out of the office is no longer as critical as it was. If staff REALLY have to participate, they can log on remotely from home. Though the understanding should be that if they’re not well, they’re not well – and being released from work responsibility is a function of getting better.

Starting engagement

Understanding and sympathising  with staff is in any case, a crucial component of engaging with them. They could equally be working from home because of a bus strike, or handling a personal issue – children’s needs at school, handling a home breakdown, going to a funeral.

Because germs are only one of the reasons staff are unwell at work. Stress is another, all too often also unaddressed by management. But getting rid of germs buys a lot of time – remember the default is nine months’ productivity instead of twelve – management can afford to be accommodating.

Time changes everything

Which is exactly what stress needs – time. Time to listen and time to interact.

Much of the anguish of stress at work is relieved by voluntarily giving an audience – listening to problems, complaints and suggestions before they become issues. They might not be big in the scheme of things, but in the head of the staff member troubled by them, they can be monsters.

And time is there to buy good will. No longer refused or grudgingly granted just this once. Now it’s possible to give away without loss – reclaimed from the missing 3 months productivity forgotten  and unrecognised until now. And all started by pressing a button to get rid of germs.

No holding back now, productivity should be free to advance however is required. Bye-bye ball and chain. Oh, and no more £319 billion price tag either.

As we said in a previous post, watch out world!

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.

Originally posted on 5 December 2017 @ 4:50 pm

HR’s new bankroll: hack proof staff health in the cloud – so no virus can crash your business again

Rocket penguin
Light-hearted escaping with the cloud – a cloud of hydrogen peroxide that is, the one that knocks out viruses and bacteria to keep workplaces healthy and safe

How much of a bankroll?

We’re talking thousands, maybe even tens of thousands.

It’s HR’s unexpected contribution to the bottom line. Maximising staff productivity up to a third more than you’re getting now – all on the same salary budget.

Easy-peasy too – by putting staff health in the cloud. An overnight bankroll from sickness costs.

Er, but it’s not the kind of cloud you might expect. Or the kind of virus.

Serious cloud, serious virus

This cloud is hydrogen peroxide, our own body’s natural killer of germs – rolling in all-penetrating mist through your workspace. Ionised so it reaches everywhere and grabbing with its electrostatic charge.

And the virus is biological – far more treacherous than any browser hacker or Trojan. One outbreak of norovirus could have your whole staff writhing with cramps for days. Spewing their guts out with projectile vomit- or ripping them apart with hell-fire diarrhoea.

Bacteria, viruses, fungi, mould – they none of them stand a chance.

The hydrogen peroxide oxidises them – destroying their cell structure. In a just a few minutes, your whole place is sterile.

Hmm, sterile – all germs knocked out, dead. No chance for anyone to catch a bug or infection, the workspace is safe.

Which means no-one going off sick from illness caught at work. No sick pay, no replacement staff costs – everyone’s at their desk working.

No unwell at work costs either. The price you pay for underpowered staff trying to do their jobs while they’re feeling like death. Taking ten times longer, making mistakes, snapping at customers, jeopardising business through sheer lack of concentration.

Computer crashes, fixable – staff crashes, hospital

That’s where the thousands come in. Not so much the absences, more the soldiering on against all odds – and inevitably making a hash of it. Ten times more than ordinary sick costs if you add it up. Thousands and thousands – and tens of thousands.

All that expenditure – and it happens to every organisation and every employee, everywhere. Drip, drip, more and more unfulfilled salary resource, unstoppably down the drain, every day.

Except now HR can snatch it back – a bankroll present to you of one-third more staff productivity. More effort, more input, for the same money you’re already paying – because now your staff capabilities are fully realised.

Because your most valuable assets are properly protected. Shielded from every kind of bug – common colds and flu, respiratory infections, tummy upsets and various kinds of gastroenteritis. And the serious illnesses too – legionella, TB, or even worse.

Over to you

You provide the daily sterilising – piggy-backed with regular cleaning perhaps, or from your own Hypersteriliser machine (a press-button automatic jobbie that does the place in minutes).

Your staff just get on with the job. Unhackable by bacteria or viruses.

A productivity bankroll out of the blue – just by being in the cloud.

Picture Copyright: lightwise / 123RF Stock Photo

Get the right cleaning service and they’ll SAVE you a fortune

Cleaning team with Halo
Real cleaning includes getting rid of germs – push-button easy with a Hypersteriliser like this one

Getting it right means choosing a service that does more than mop and sponge.

It’s your duty of care to provide a secure working environment for staff – and that should include protection from germs.

For example, you wouldn’t expect them to work in surroundings with mould damage. Nor would you want to expose them to legionella – in fact by law, you have to safeguard them against it.

Which underlines the basic business rule about cleaning services: cheap is expensive.

Make that VERY expensive.

Unwell at work – the high cost of presenteeism

Because having staff out of action from a bug they picked up at work has a knock-on effect way beyond paying for sick leave or replacement staff.

Your hero types will drag themselves to their desks even if they’re not 100%. And nobody performs at their best if they’re unwell at work. Things get missed, service levels slip and critical deadlines go for a ball of chalk.

Big bucks, you’re right – the perils of presenteeism.

So while a quick run-round with vacuum cleaner and sponge might make the place look tidy, it’s unlikely to do the job you really need – to get rid of germs.

No, that doesn’t mean the doom and gloom scenario of a deep clean every night. Or the place reeking of bleach so that your head spins.

As any top-line cleaning service can tell you, eliminating germs can be quick, easy and safe. Just mist the place up with ionised hydrogen peroxide and the germ count drops to zero.

Well to 99.9999% at least – a 6-Log Sterility Assurance Level.

No viruses, no bacteria, no fungi, no mould – they’re all oxidised to nothing.

Checking for proof

How can you tell?

Well you can’t see germs, they’re too small. But sample testing at various locations around your premises should all prove germ-free.

Your nose will confirm it too. Germs smell when they’re at work, the key giveaway that they’re there. Treat the place with hydrogen peroxide and smells disappear – instead there’s a neutral freshness.

The other giveaway is mould – if you’re unfortunate to have any. Around the air conditioner maybe, where water drips from the condenser. After treatment, those black shadow marks turn grey. The stuff is dead and easily brushed away.

Best of all though, is that your staff are safe. Their health is protected and they know you’ve gone out of your way to do it. Much more significant than feng shui treatment with colour schemes and furniture.

Better even than gym membership or medical care. You’ve taken steps to PREVENT illness before it happens – putting their health first.

The upbeat power of health

That does things to their morale and psyche. Activates the feel-good of being actively healthy and WANTING to get cracking. They’re committed, full of energy and busting to achieve.

It’s motivation not possible any other way. The kind that fuels commitment and voluntarily going for best. A competitive edge that happens literally overnight.

Not bad for a lowly cleaning service, hey? Though they’re not exactly lowly.

As the right choice, they provide the right facilities at the right time. And it doesn’t get righter than keeping germs out of the workplace.

It all adds up – being right.

Saving money because staff don’t go off sick so often. They’re at their desks with their finger on the pulse.

No downside costs from being unwell at work either. They’re in control and at full strength, delivering everything you pay them for.

And MAKING money from positive vibes. A bunch of professionals healthy and well – fully motivated and going for it.

Ready to take on the world.

Picture Copyright: andreypopov / 123RF Stock Photo

Originally posted on 28 March 2017 @ 12:49 pm

Unexpected staff illness – how much can it cost?

Pilots in cockpit
Exactly what’s at risk when staff are unwell at work? And is it affordable?

Hope for the best, plan for the worst. Because there’s no such thing as unexpected staff illness.

So, it happens. We’re all human.

We’re all vulnerable to germs.

Up one minute, down the next. Suddenly feeling unwell is a fact of life.

Inconvenient at the best of times, it can also be very expensive.

Missed flight because the crew were sick? That could cost thousands.

A whole plane-load of missed appointments, onward connections, overrun deadlines, a legal claims nightmare.

Not that anyone is ever to blame. Except perhaps they are.

Duty of care

What steps does management take to protect the needs of customers? Massive pay-out insurance? A stand-by crew, always on hand? An effective health protection system?

No wonder airlines try it on that crew sickness is an “extraordinary circumstance” – not deserving of compensation.

Poppycock, of course. If they were a school, there’d be a supply teacher in there without missing a beat – and paid for as an anticipated cost of doing business.

Which is one way round – throw money at it. And hope it doesn’t get worse.

Have-a-go heroes

So what happens if an airline pilot feels unwell, but flies anyway – playing hero against the schedules? Could be worse, could be disaster. How good is his judgement if he’s not 100%? Are his reflexes fast enough? Can he focus on the job without endangering his passengers?

It’s an issue all organisations face. Airlines, accountancy firms, supermarkets, fast food joints.

OK, so it’s not so life-threatening, flying a spreadsheet instead of an Airbus A380 – but the issues are the same. Unwell at work, same opportunities to make mistakes, forget key factors, gloss over vital requirements.

And depending on the outcome, the sky’s the limit in terms of costs to be compensated. On top of the predictable cost of salary paid for, but not returned in productivity. People staggering in to work unwell – and not being able to cope.

And that can run to thousands too – especially with multiple staff.

Lots of money. A major investment in unnecessary overhead.

Coughs and sneezes spread diseases

Because at least 85% of the time, most illnesses at work are preventable.

Avoidable because they’re picked up in the workplace. Lots of people in close quarters, working together – exposure to commonly shared germs is inevitable. Transferred on contact mostly, via high-touch fomites. Remember Kate Winslet in Contagion?

Everyday items like door handles, light switches, lift buttons, touch screens.  Personal items like keys, money, credit cards, cosmetics – and most of all phones.

Whoa, whoa, hold it.

What are we, germophobes? Paranoid about germs and demanding everything scrubbed spotless?

Hygiene reality check

Allergic to unnecessary costs, more like. To bankrupting ourselves with needless expense and the wheel-spin that goes with it. Customer delays, underpowered service, missed opportunities, lost business and slowed momentum.

Which is why we keep flogging this Hypersteriliser machine we’re always banging on about. The thing that takes out all germs and makes the place sterile. No germs, no chance to be ill, where’s the problem?

Especially when it’s so push button easy to do. Whooshhydrogen peroxide mist everywhere, job done in forty minutes.

And saving a ton of money, over and over and over.

Which answers the question doesn’t it? Unexpected staff illness – how much can it cost?

Nothing, if you take the right steps.

Picture Copyright: leaf / 123RF Stock Photo

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.

Get one third extra staff – at no extra cost

One third more staff
Claw back time lost to being unwell at work, and every team member can give you a third of themselves extra

Extra staff. How to afford them? Where to put them? What will the shareholders say?

Except these are no ordinary extra staff.

The extra you know

They’re experienced and known to you. Trusted, with proven track records. Valued performers with first-hand knowledge of your business and its customers.

Already in place and up to speed.

Extra special, like they were meant for the role. Hand-picked by you, which of course they are.

Because, yes – they ARE your special team. Only there’s one third more of them.

One third more time, more effort, more expertise, more guiding hands.

Larger than life and already giving you extra.

With never a murmur about overtime or extra salary.

Doing what they’ve always done, only one third more of it.

Smiling about it too. Happy to be there and going for it. Extra revved up, extra enthusiastic, extra prepared to take on the world and win.

And all achievable right now, without extra cost.

You just have to give the nod. Sign off on the nixing the hurdle that’s holding them back – the ever-present obstacle that stops them doing their job fully.

Unwell at work holds them back

Latch onto that thought – fully.

Because however good they are, that’s not what any staff are delivering at the moment.

Chances are, if your business is like most others, they’re only capable of nine months out of every twelve. That’s what you get in real terms – and that’s what you’re paying for.

The rest of the time, however dedicated and committed they might be, they’re just not up to it.

Illness holds them back, sapping their strength and concentration. Causing their work to slip below par – so it takes longer, or has to be done again.

Or worse, goes pear-shaped and winds up being a liability.

Not something you expect from a professional.

But that’s what happens when they insist on coming to work with a stinker of a cold, their dog of twelve wonderful years just died – and their other half is also at work, nursing a sprained wrist and bruised coccyx from slipping and falling on ice.

The cost of unwellness

You can see it happening, can’t you? And where do you think their poor head is, trying to cope with that AND push your sales over-target for the third month running?

Unwell at work, right?

Partly caused by germs, partly caused by grief, partly caused by worry.

Oh yes, and while you think about it, those germs are exploding round the office with every hacking cough and 20-megaton sneeze.

So it’s not just one professional, limping along under par – pretty soon it will be the rest of them. The whole office, off-colour at once. All at their desks and trying – but with the best will in the world, nowhere close to making it.

That’s what held back is – being unwell at work. Not bad enough to be home in bed, at least that’s contained and planned for.

No, this is worse. Sometimes people forcing themselves to keep going. Fear of looking like wimps, anxious not to overload colleagues, super gung-ho to get results, or just so depressed that coming to work is some kind of therapy.

OK, so give the nod.

Because people are like that 57.5 days a year, according to research. Almost three working months of effort and concentration. Lost to stomach cramps, headache, colds, flu, back pain, muscle spasm, vomiting, diarrhoea, you name it.

Pay for twelve months, get nine

You pay for twelve months at full power. You get nine months – with the rest in unpredictable blips and snatches.

And your staff are miserable with it, knowing they’re under-performing.

Prevent them being unwell and they’ll gladly give the three months you’re not getting. One third extra on the nine-month years you’ve been used to – no wonder productivity is a challenge!

So eliminate the germs that cause such mayhem. Germs in the workplace that everybody breathes and touches in the shared existence of professionals working closely together.

Take away the grief of these symptoms, and your people become like new beings. Plus you show you’re thinking of them and it makes them feel good. Get the place sterilised and everybody is razzling. Full marks for motivation.

Which can stretch a lot further if you’ve a mind to. By giving some of that extra time you’ve won back again.

Time, the healer

You see, germs are a big chunk of being unwell at work, but not all of it. There’s still the head stuff of emotion and circling thoughts. Coping with anguish and worries – often nothing to do with work, though there’s plenty of that too. Relationship issues and confidence crises, even among the toughest.

A lot of these you can fix with time – because you’ve got it. Three working months per team member before you start losing on where you are at the moment. Plenty of time to take off and sort out worries – see the bank manger, get the parcel from Argos, check the bullying at school,  see to the ailing budgerigar, or just stay quiet and grieve.

Time too, to step in and find out about work issues. They might be small on the surface, but they’re monumental to the person feeling them. And nothing reassures more than the boss being involved enough to sort things out. If the Big Guy’s got time for it, this can only be the right place to work.

Which leaves muscle pain and long-lasting conditions. But even here, time has therapy. Things take longer with physical pain, but patience takes away the feeling of being crowded for results. Things can be taken easy and you’ve got time to give away. 57.5 days per staff member to be exact.

Extra productivity

So what have you got?

No more germs, no more illnesses to catch. No more unwell at work – or at least vastly reduced. Extra professional staff hours from a team you already know and trust – out of the blue, at no extra cost in salaries, overtime, holidays or anything.

Just the odd £30 a day to keep the germs away, and you’re laughing.

Which brings us to your next problem.

What are you going to do with all that extra productivity?

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.