Tag Archives: germs

What’s your crisis plan for Aussie flu, or other business health threat?

Send hime home
Hope for the best, plan for the worst. Send anyone infected home.

Your plan had better be good. Once these things get started, they go round like wildfire.

Half your office, out in one go. A whole team, down for weeks.

And just maybe a law suit, because you didn’t protect your team enough.

Plan, or else

Sure, flu jabs. Except it’s common knowledge this year’s vaccine is only 20% effective against the killer H3N2 strain. Lots of refusals from people who don’t want stuff injected into their bodies if it isn’t going to work.

What if it’s not Aussie flu, but the Japanese B / Yamagata strain – and the vaccine’s not available yet?

Or not flu at all, but some other illness that snuck in while everyone was looking elsewhere?

Can’t plan for everything? Quite true, you can’t – there’s no controlling anything your team might have picked up outside.

But again it’s common knowledge most offices are germ factories. Everybody all close together in the same space. Exposed to each other for hours, touching the same things, breathing the same air.

Just one person comes down with something and the ripple effect can last for months. Round and round, infecting and re-infecting each other. Enough to bring the whole business down, how do you plan for that?

You HAVE got a plan, right?

Not just flu

Like if it’s legionnaire’s disease, protecting your team is legally part of your duty of care. Not a virus, but a bacteria – legionella pneumophila. As its name suggests, an illness very much like pneumonia, which is where H3N2 can lead to if it gets out of control. And pneumonia is deadly – killing 50 million people back in 1918, the world’s worst ever epidemic.

But yes, legionnaire’s disease. One of a list of about 30 diseases you are legally required to shield your team from. It breeds in water systems and air conditioning units, but is breathed in from the air.

Gloss over taking precautions and the Health & Safety people will be all over you – a £1 million fine for Stoke-on-Trent based JTF Wholesale last year. Enough to put you out of business.

Getting sued of course is only part of it. Which is why having a plan is so crucial. What does it do to your business to have a load of people out of action all at once? And how do you contain infection from the handful you have left, holding the fort?

A big thanks to all our readers

This post today is our 500th  since we started, appropriately enough with How I Survived When Germs Killed My Business. Thank you for your support and interest, it’s people like you who keep us alive.

If nothing else, make your plan insist on one thing.

First sign of anyone being the slightest bit unwell, SEND THEM HOME.

They’re useless to you at work anyway – unable to concentrate, fighting an uphill battle with their bodies, spreading contagion to everyone else.

SEND THEM HOME and don’t let them log on either. They need to get better – and worrying about work stuff is only going to delay that. Paracetamol, rest – and at worst, mindless daytime television are about all they’re capable of handling. Let them be.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, you’ve got some rear-guarding to do.

Time for Plan B

Because the smitten ones might be gone, but not the germs they leave behind. And germs can survive in warm centrally-heated offices for weeks at a time.

Some of them might be airborne, swirled around in the continuously circulating air. Others lurk on surfaces, waiting to infect – on high-touch objects like keypads, touchscreens, light switches and control buttons. On all the other things people use too – documents, pens, keys, money, phones, handbags, wallets, clothing.

Better get your cleaning service on it, Priority One. Not just a wipe-down, but a deep clean. Give it the works, to take out everything that might hit you, not just Aussie flu.

Norovirus for instance gets everywhere and keeps bouncing back if not clobbered hard enough. The violent vomiting it causes is not just gruesome, it deliberately spreads tiny particles of itself everywhere, every little crack and crevice. Miss any out and it’ll be back, surer than Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Better still, not just a deep clean but actually sterilise the place. Make it so that all germs are gone completely. No Aussie flu, no legionnaire’s disease, no norovirus, no nothing – the only way to make 100% sure your team don’t catch anything.

Other than that, sit tight and wait for everybody to get better.

Kick in that other plan you have too. The one for dire emergencies. Like what to do when your building has a fire, a power-out loses your data, or floods stop you getting near for few months. If you need to know how to set one up, Newcastle City Council have a blueprint right here.

Good luck with everything. See you in summer when this is all over.

About this blog

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

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

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

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.

Ban lunch at your desk, rescue lost productivity

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

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

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

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

That’s right, germs.

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

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

One touch is all it takes

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

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

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

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

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

Bad bugs, waiting for you

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

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

And you want to each your lunch there?

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

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

Unwell at work, stress, not a good lunch

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

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

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

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

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

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

Germs everywhere

Until you come back.

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

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

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

Can’t win, can we?

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

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

Zero germs, zero illness

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

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

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

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

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

No worries if you forget though.

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

About this blog

Back Off, Bacteria! is the blog of Hyper Hygiene Ltd, supplier of what we’re convinced is the most effective health protection system in the world. A fully mobile, all-automatic Hypersteriliser machine mists up workplaces with ionised hydrogen peroxide, spreading everywhere and eliminating all bacteria, viruses and fungi. Achieves 6-log Sterility Assurance Level – 99.9999% of germs destroyed. The only EPA-registered dry mist fogging system – EPA No 84526-6. EU Biocide Article 95 Compliant.

 

Our £319 BILLION productivity ball and chain

The £319 billion 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.

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

Britain’s productivity illness: prevention, not cure

Doctors with pound sign
Productivity illness: prevention, not cure. It’s worth a fortune

Looming larger than ever with the impending Budget and Brexit, Britain’s productivity illness is not going away soon.

Or is it?

It is significant that our present productivity handicap is referred to as an illness – and in the same breath something to accelerate out of, usually by throwing  money at it.

Prevent illness, or make super-well?

Quite how to accelerate with an illness is not explained. Even top performers like Jessica Ennis–Hill are unlikely to surge ahead in the grip of a common cold or flu.

But illness is right, and in a word explains what is wrong with our productivity.

It’s less than it should be.

Not surprising when you consider our track record of workplace performance. Three years ago, business experts PwC calculated the national cost of absences due to illness at £29 billion a year. A figure that assumed an average of 6 days off sick for every earner in the country.

Not chicken feed.

But it pales into insignificance alongside the cost of presenteeism or being unwell at work – calculated in a GCC report (now Virgin Pulse) at 10 times absenteeism or £290 billion.

Together that’s £319 billion, substantially more than any of the figures  promised by government to boost R&D of super-performers in the high-tech/AI sector – side-stepping and ignoring also-rans like retail and hospitality.

£319 billion on illness. Isn’t it worth doing something about fixing that – instead of chasing pie in the sky dreams?

Sloppy hygiene

Mind you, it’s not surprising that such illness is associated with work. Look around, and our workplace standards of protection against germs are truly frightening.

Small wonder that on average we’re each of us feeling less than ourselves at work for 57.5 days a year, or nearly three working months. Or closer to home, we all have some kind of ailment giving us grief roughly every three days.

We never think about it of course, because we can’t see germs – too microscopically small. We just accept that not being well is par for the course – and business does too. As Churchill, or was it Teddy Roosevelt (?) said, “Most of the world’s work is done by people who don’t feel very well.”

And yes, they’re ill all right. Because we can’t see germs, we don’t think we’re dirty. And alongside sloppy hygiene in the workplace, our personal standards are even worse.

All of which means we’re sitting at our desks waiting for illness to happen.

Sub-standard capability

And what is the quality of work we’re capable of, feeling like that?

Some bug we picked up at the office does our head in so we’re not able to concentrate. Which means it’s done wrong and has to be done again. Or done wrong and not picked up, to let the fox loose among the chickens later on down the line.

Three working months we’re out of it.

Which means for every twelve months we get paid, we’re only delivering nine.

That’s productivity illness all right. And why retail and hospitality bear the brunt. Higher exposure to other people, more physical interchange and contact with commonly touched objects. More germs.

So here’s the thing.

Get rid of the germs and our productivity illness goes away. It might still be less than it should – but at least it won’t be held back. And three months of our salaries won’t be going to waste paying for us to be out of it.

Better still, get rid of the germs before we’re exposed to them.

Prevention, not cure.

And more easily achievable than we might ever imagine.

For starters, what health protection if any is in most workplaces right now?

You’re right, it’s zero.

A nightly hit teams comes in and vacuums the floors, empties the rubbish bins and wipes down the desks with a damp rag. And that’s your lot!

Now look down the back of your computer or under the keyboard. Hold your phone up to the light and look at the touchscreen.

Dust bunnies and crumbs. Smears and finger marks. Leftover detritus from chicken tikka marsala, birthday cake, biscuit crumbs and dirt off laptops picked up off the floor in the Underground. And all of it untouched since your organisation moved into the building five years ago.

Poor productivity: the antidote

So how to fix it?

Start off with putting antibacterial wipes or gel on every desk first thing in the morning. Not so easy to forget washing hands when there’s an alternative right in your face.

Next, fumigate the place.

Well, not quite as drastic as that – and a lot safer. Actually to sterilise the place, mist it up with a mild but effective germ-killing biocide that spreads everywhere – through the air, across every surface, into every nook and cranny, you name it.

Result, no germs – no illnesses for anyone to catch. No more underperforming feeling like death.

Twelve months’ productivity instead of nine – UP BY A THIRD.

Do that every day and productivity illness becomes a thing of the past.

Better than G7 countries

So things take one day longer each week to do in Britain than in other G7 countries?

Not any more.

Up by a third means six days are now four. One day LESS to do in Britain than in other G7 countries.

How about it, all you business eggheads?

Up for a little prevention not cure?

Come on people, there’s £319 billion in it for you.

Turn productivity around for just £30 a day

£30 man with calculator
£30 a day to save you thousands – can you afford not to consider it?

Don’t believe all the City doom and gloom, it’s a lot easier to turn productivity around than you think.

Oh sure, UK productivity lags behind the major economies.

But there’s a reason for our stunted performance – a penalty we all pay without realising it.

Because it’s not  that we’re less productive. More that we’re not actually productive ALL  of the time. Far from it.

In fact, without our knowledge, something is holding us back for almost three working months every year. 57.5 days on average.

The price we pay in lost productivity by coming to work unwell.

And right there is the shortfall.

Lowest productivity in Europe

For every 12 months of salary paid out, the best we Brits can deliver most of the time is only 9 months worth of work at full capability.

In the missing 3 months we’re gobbling down tablets to ease crippling back ache or muscle pain. Trying to ignore the near-fever of flu or norovirus that turns our guts to jelly and our minds to boiled knitting. Or grappling with monsters of worry or dread, sometimes bursting into tears with the stress of it all – men as well as women.

“Presenteeism” the HR people call it. When we’re smitten  with unwellness that saps our skills and ability to think – but no so bad that we have to take time off for it.

Or perhaps we’re so worried about job security, we come to work anyway. Not wanting to get fired, feeling like death, with a dread of being found wanting.

Three months of the year, we’re like that.

Every one of us, the top brass too.

At work and battling with some kind of physical or mental issue every three days or so.

Think of how an ordinary cold drags on for days and weeks. Hardly worth pulling a sickie, but slowing us down in ways that could unknowingly hurt our job. Like staying fully focused when attention to detail is critical – reviewing figures for a bid, or brainstorming a new strategy – and then getting them wrong.

Same thing with mental challenges – a death in the family or worrying about finances. We’re not actually ill, but emotional and psychological pressures can drive us into it. Giving ourselves ulcers is all too familiar – so is the lost feeling at the edge of a breakdown.

Because we’re not machines, we’re human. Our lives go up and down – happy times, tragedies, unexpected illnesses, accidents – and just to be at our desks can be an effort, let alone deliver 100%.

Which is why  on balance, most of us are only capable of 75%.

Low productivity: the antidote

So how do we turn it around?

Not by grabbing for the latest business must-have. Even with the latest technology, our own performance would still be less than we’d like. 75% of the advanced version is still only 75%.

Better deal with the issues  that stunted us in the first place. If we really want to turn productivity around, delivering 100% of ourselves has got to be the goal.

Start with the quick fix, clobbering whatever it is that make us ill.

Germs, of course – a no-brainer.

We can’t see germs, they’re too microscopically small. So we don’t even think of them.

Reality is that they’re around us all the time, we’re even half bacteria ourselves. On top of which, every one of us carries our own personal germ cloud floating in the air around us – our own bio-signature, as unique as a fingerprint or retina scan.

And, wait for it.

Unhealthy = unproductive

Nowhere is probably more laden with germs than our own workplace.

Just lift your keyboard and look underneath. All those dust bunnies and detritus are the things we CAN see – so just imagine the germs that we can’t.

A few gruesome facts:

It gets worse, a legacy of the fact that we can’t see germs, so our personal hygiene gets really scary:

You get the picture. No matter how clean and tidy your workplace might be, chances are inevitable it’s crawling with germs. An increasing aggregate of germs too. If the place has never been treated, it’s likely bacteria, viruses and fungi  have been breeding there since the year dot.

An investment in efficiency

This is where the £30 comes in. The business end of how you turn productivity around. And probably not much more than you’re already paying for your daily cleaning service.

That’s all it takes to get yourself a whole health protection system to eliminate all germs. And you read that right – ALL GERMS.

Cutting to the chase, your £30 a day buys you the whole kit and caboodle to do it. Germ-killing biocide, dispersing machine, accessories, training to use it, finance to acquire it – and the only insurance policy of its kind in the world to cover your use of it.

You put the machine into action every night when your team are gone. When it releases an ultra fine mist of ionised hydrogen peroxide that reaches everywhere and oxidises all germs to oblivion. To a 6-Log Sterility Assurance Level.

OK, so you can’t protect your team from picking up germs outside.

But in the workplace – the space they all share, work in, move around in, breathe in and generate money in – the entire surroundings are sterile. No germs to catch, no illness to succumb to, no under-performing at 75%. Your team feel healthy and good with it, the first step to turn productivity around.

So what has it brought you?

More bang for your buck in the salaries that you pay people. Still the same wages, but more of your money’s worth. Closer to full power performance.

And time, of course.

Time to fix stress

Un-stunted by illness, the same people can do their jobs better, faster, with fewer delays.

Which gives you time to apply in your next step to turn productivity around, alleviating stress.

Let’s face it, if any of your team were your son or daughter, you would be sympathetic to the pressures they were under – and indulgent with how you handled them. Feelings are sensitive things, and can make or break the strongest relationships.

Hold that thought.

Because your team are human, just like your kids are. They need sympathy and indulgence too – or better still, compassion. If you value them, they need to know they are not machines.

So you give them time. And you can afford to.

You’ve just won a whole load back by getting rid of germs, now spend it wisely to de-stress your team.

Come to that, it’s time that can de-stress a lot of things.

The always-on black hole

Take the accepted Twenty-First Century culture we have drifted into of always-on involvement. A stress-maker if ever there was one. Team members feeling pressured that they never get time to disengage. On edge always to check their emails far into the evening and weekends.

And only a skip from there, working hours late at the office like everybody else. Having to prove commitment over and over again. No wonder they get sleepless nights. And no wonder their energy flags when they’re back on deck in the morning.

So yes, time.

Take a walk round the office at 5.30 and see who’s there. Ask what’s wrong and how you can help.

Well there must be something wrong if they’re still there after hours. Isn’t the work designed to be accomplished in the time allocated? So what glitch has happened to make them work late?

Besides, your team need their own time to recharge and revitalise for you. To go home and engage with their own lives, so they’re ready, fresh and motivated for you in the morning. Likewise weekends and public holidays. Make them take them, it’s to your advantage and takes the pressure away.

People versus people

Then there’s other issues.

Relationships to sort out – people being side-lined by cliques, disagreements with a line manager’s protégé, defusing favouritism, even coping with bullying.

Yes, they all take time to discuss and resolve. But time is a substance you can afford with healthier staff – and it’s not the work that’s important, it’s the people who enable it to happen successfully. People issues SHOULD come first.

So you CAN take time out to consult and discuss. You CAN afford to listen. You CAN take time to show that you care, that you value your people and WANT them to work for you. Just as, by handling them right, you persuade them that they WANT to work for you. And how much stress could that ease?

You may not come to work every morning on the 7.25 to Waterloo. But it would be useful if you did.

Jammed in tight as always, you’re surrounded by shapes with the saddest body language in the country. Sagging, tired and exhausted before they’ve even started, there’s no motivation, these are people who resent going to work.

They are angry, bitter, scared, brow-beaten, already impatient for the day to be over. Nobody has invested enough time in their aspirations to make them WANT to be there. What stress will they go through? What will they do to compensate?

Some will pull sickies. Some will get drunk every night. All of them will clock-watch. All of them will be so stressed they’ll moan like a drain to anyone who will listen.

With good reason. Nobody TOOK THE TIME to show they cared.

Like son and daughter

There’s more you can do with time too – like you would with your son or daughter.

Allow team members time off when they DO feel ill, poor work could be more damaging than none. Time off too when other issues crowd out their ability to concentrate. To see the bank about a loan, get a pregnancy check, sort out child care, go to a funeral, or get ready for a wedding. You care, they pay it back – in effort.

Time is the pressure that stampedes stress, but with a healthy team you’ve got plenty of it. Fewer absences at home, fewer absences staring at their desks– and anyway productivity is up, so reinvesting time can only pay dividends.

Which works for the people in pain too – the ones with the killer back aches or the foot they can barely walk on. But they’re yours, and they’re good, and you need to show that you value them.

So give them time like they’re most important people in the world. Which they are – human assets working for you. Give them time to get down the corridor to the conference room, time to see the specialist, time for their physiotherapy. To turn productivity around, it’s worth it.

Getting your money’s worth

All of which is a lot for your £30 a day. And a lot cheaper than the next generation IT system you might have been considering. Or the wellness package you might have considered as a bribe – gym membership, medical consultancy, keep fit classes, stop smoking clinics…

Why pay extra for them to do their job? Will they do it any better? And wouldn’t they rather have a raise anyway?

Need further convincing?

Well according to the CIPD, absenteeism costs around £87 a day. And according to GCC (now Virgin Pulse), presenteeism costs 10 times more – around £5K per team member per year.

Can any business afford to keep making losses like that? For £30 a day, you don’t have to.

OK, so go to it.

Turn productivity around.

How a microscopic bug from the Middle Ages can rubbish your productivity in 24 hours

Plague at work
Last seen 700 years ago and now only at the other end of the world – not a threat till a colleague comes back from holiday with it

Only 0.0015mm long, it’s a devastating killer.

Claiming the lives of 25 million people in the Middle Ages.

Today it’s back – and already 120 are dead.

Cut down in less than a day by a bug they breathed in.

Black Death – otherwise known as The Plague.

Back with a vengeance – from the Middle Ages

Right now it’s running riot in Toamasina and Antananarivo, both cities on the popular holiday island of Madagascar. It’s spread to the nearby Seychelles islands too – triggering alarm bells in neighbouring Reunion, Mauritius and Comoros.

Also at risk are the mainland countries of  Kenya, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Mozambique and South Africa – all of which have received alerts from the World Health Organization.

And this time it’s not the bubonic version, which rode into Middle Ages Europe carried by fleas on the backs of rats. This is the more virulent and airborne pneumonic type, spread by coughs and sneezes and simply breathing in infected air.

A plague outbreak in faraway Africa – the other end of the world.

Can it happen here?

Can’t affect us here, can it? Nothing to worry about.

Until you realise that an Airbus A340 can get here from Nairobi in 8 hours and 50 minutes with 14 flights a day. Or from Cape Town in 11 hours and 35 minutes with 25 flights. Or from Johannesburg in 11 hours with 30 flights.  Or from Dar es Salaam in …

You get the picture.

All places a lot of Brits have just come from after the half term break.

Possibly colleagues in the same office – or their friends.

Sneezing and coughing like always after a long flight. Dried out sinuses, “aeroplane flu” or something more serious?

Thing is, the pneumonic form of Yersinia pestis (as The Plague is properly known) comes on so fast you could be seriously ill by the time you’ve swallowed your first paracetamol.  Yes, antibiotics can stop it – the Doc will probably put you on tetracycline or doxycycline and you should be OK.

Colleagues at risk

But until you’re isolated, you’re contagious. Breathing the same air as your colleagues – exposing them to the same 670-year-old killer that took out a third of the population of London. Not nice, the Middle Ages.

And you don’t have to cough or sneeze to spread it. Every exhale is sucked up and swirled around by the office HVAC system – now cranked up as the days get colder, spreading to everyone.

Don’t think that the system’s HEPA filter will take out the bug either. High Efficiency Particulate Air filters are only efficient down to 3 microns – and at 1.5 by 0.75 microns, Yersinia pestis is only half that.

Sickies linkSo if you’re one of those company heroes who insist on coming to work even though you’ve got a cold, you could be putting the whole office at risk. Even cause it to shut down before the end of the day tomorrow. Productivity zero.

Just as it would be if the office came down with any other bug. Mild ones like colds and ordinary flu. Or serious threats like the Aussie A (H3N2) virus, MERS, SARS, e.coli – or any one of a thousand lethal hazards all the way to cholera and typhoid.

Unless you deploy a defence. Send home anyone who looks suspect immediately – because all the symptoms look the same ion the early stages. Then protect the whole office from ALL germs altogether.

Fighting back – effective protection

Sterilising the office is the easiest way. Misting the place up after work with ionised hydrogen peroxide that reaches everywhere and oxidises all germs to nothing.

Next morning, the whole place is sterile. No germs anywhere except what people bring in on their skin sand clothing. A germ-free clean sheet to start the day – with a 6-Log Sterility Assurance Level.

Worth doing anyway on a nightly basis – we’re all of us off-colour with some minor bug or other every 3 days. And with so many of us working on top of each other all grouped together, the office is a sure place to pick them up.

Off our phones, keyboards, light switches, door handles, and lift buttons – or simply from the documents we keep handing around.

Plus on our desks and coffee cups – while we work through our lunch break. Chomping away on a chicken salad wrap, oblivious to the germs in the grit and dust bunnies we don’t always wipe off before we start noshing.

Restoring full productivity

A long way from the Middle Ages, yes.

But with Twenty-First Century protection like hydrogen peroxide, we can afford to be.

Our full 100% selves all of the time – not out of it 57.5 days a year like we usually are, sitting at our desks and struggling with yet another bug.

Productivity plus – with the feelgood that goes with it.

You can’t get much more efficient than that.

Why productivity is ALWAYS worse than you pay for – and how to fix it

Our special thanks to business experts PwC for perspective in this article.

Stunned accountant
Why productivity is worse. Paying for germs – costs you don’t see that mount up every day

You’ve got the best people with the best skills for the best salary deals ever –  yet productivity continues to perform worse than you expect.

So what’s wrong with this picture?

You’ve called in the top consultants, put in the latest technology, deployed every efficiency trick in the book – and still, like most businesses in the country, your productivity is always dragging it’s heels.

Oh sure, the experts will tell you it’s “lack of exposure to global best practices and low competitive intensity”. And that these are caused by “low capital investment and poor skills stemming from trade restrictions, price constraints, and land use regulations.”

Whatever that means.

Cut to the chase

Frankly, and in practical terms, your team should perform better – but don’t.

That’s right, it’s a people thing.

And improving your people productivity means that you and your people work harder, better and faster.

Which suggests maybe you should forget all the theory and focus on them.

They are, after all, your main asset, without whom productivity would be zero. Start with them and everything should click into place.

Like, how are they doing?

And not as production units, but as people?

How do they feel about what they’re doing, the people around them, the environment in which they’re working?

And how do you show them that you give a damn?

According to business gurus PwC, 83% of workers feel that their wellbeing influences productivity.

OK, so you took that on board when you hired them. Which is why the swish offices, the stylish décor, the extensive wellbeing package –  fitness programmes, diet counselling, medical consultancy, the works.

And they give it back to you in spades. Always at their desks, never a day off, midnight oil junkies – and weekends too – they just love the place and live on its adrenalin.

All well and good, but human bodies don’t function like that.

And not because the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.

Actually, that flesh is an amazing miracle. Putting up with the all-hours workload, the lack of sleep and intermittent meals.

And a whole lot more that you can’t see.

Don’t mess with stress

Like stress – not from burnout, but from depression.

Financial worry for instance, is the largest single cause of stress in the UK, which in turn is the largest cause of absenteeism. The house, the car, the daughter’s special care treatment – or worse, the gambling debts, the divorce settlement, or the shares that went belly-up.

Relationships too, are a major unhappy trigger – especially work-related. Maybe even caused by you.

Like, how good a boss are you actually? At handling people and making them feel wanted? Do you give them space and recognition, putting them at their ease?

Worse, what about the boo-boos? The ones guaranteed to make people cringe – or burst into tears when no-one’s looking? The feeling you don’t  trust them, don’t want to give direction, vent your frustrations on them, break promises, fail to support them or take all the credit for yourself.

OK, so you get tough with yourself and fix all that. So why is productivity still down through the floorboards?

Go back to the same question you asked the team before – how are they feeling?

And not how hyped up they are – how are they doing physically?

Protecting the body

Your own body can give you an answer.

Because like all of us, you have something going on every 3 days or so that make you feel less than perfect.

Septic cuts, cramps, upset stomachs, headaches. And we haven’t even got to the running cold yet. Or the flu, raging vomit sessions and diarrhoea, the laboured breathing, the chest pains that make you panic and head for A&E, or the dread when the Doc tells you you’ve got e.coli.

That’s right, illness caused by germs.

Which because your team are all fired up and enthusiastic, they try to take in their stride.

Except how well can you work when your head’s like boiled knitting and even opening your mouth to talk is an effort?

It’s the unwell-at-work syndrome and we all have it. Trying to be heroes when our insides are like custard. Forcing the issue, though we know we’re not up to it. How much worse can things be?

Presenteeism it’s called – and on average, it hits each of us 57.5 days a year, almost three working months.

And there’s your productivity gap, right there.

Unwell at work – £290 billion a year

Everybody might work for a full 12 months. But effectively, they’re only capable for 9. Which is why presenteeism costs 10 times more than absenteeism – itself costed by PwC at £29 billion back in 2012, so way more than that now. As you can calculate here.

So how to fix it?

Easier than you think.

If germs are the cause – then get rid of them, and you’re away.

Rocket link

Which is where the amazingness of the human body comes in. Because we’re constantly surrounded by billions and billions of germs. Our own bodies are even 50% bacteria – a benign partnership that looks after digestion, creates proteins, manages our immune systems, and thousands of others.

But get germs in the wrong place and we’re in big trouble.  This year’s A (H3N2) Aussie flu virus for instance has already killed 73 and hospitalised 133,000.

And how prone we are to infections caused by germs – living 90% of our time indoors the way we do? Working together, sharing the same space, breathing the same air, touching the same things? With germs coming at us non-stop, every single second?

Exorcising germs

Until we say, enough, that’s it – and get rid of them all.

Easily done by sterilising our workplace so there’s no germs at at. No viruses, no bacteria, no fungi, no nothing. All press-button easy with ionised hydrogen peroxide mist – gone in 60 minutes.

And of course with no germs, there’s no reason to be unwell. Plus you’ve solved the worry problems – which means,  for the first time, your team can function at a full 100%.

12 months instead of 9 – how’s that for productivity?

Productivity’s catch 22: what sort of wellness programme does NOT prevent germs?

Baited trap
So there’s this wonderful wellness programme with gym membership – but loads of germs in the gym

What catch 22? Wellness programmes work, right?

Big companies point to them as big success. Team members who’ve quit smoking, inactive ones taking more exercise, high blood pressure down, social and mental health on the up, big savings on health care costs.

Nice to have if you can afford it – either directly or through insurance plans. A whole basket of feelgood grabbers for your team – everything from premium discounts to cash rewards, gym memberships, and other incentives.

Fitness – not the same as keeping well

All of them basically geared to promote team health and fitness – typically to stop smoking, manage diabetes, lose weight, or check for problems through health screenings. And that’s on top of ergonomic work stations, pleasing colour schemes, beneficial lighting and feng shui décor. Anything and everything, as this gung ho wellness guide shows.

But prevent germs?

Not generally on the radar – unless you count company flu jabs. Yeah OK, protect staff  – an afterthought jab of corporate conscience.

What’s really in play is enhancing performance – healthier team members mean greater work capacity, more bang for the buck, better productivity.

More output, efficiency – faster, faster!

Yep, you got that right – it’s all about money.

And because business is always about money, that’s the language decision-makers best understand.

Golden handcuffs, deadly threats

Which is how they understand wellness programmes. Golden handcuffs for top-performing staff – carrots to work harder. A glittering El Dorado to stop trained team members taking a walk down the road to the competition.

Germs don’t come into it, despite exposure in the workplace to billions and billions of them every day. Every moment we breath, move, touch something or swallow we’re exposed to more.

And the only protection on offer?

A flu jab – with already iffy effectiveness against this year’s strain of Aussie A (H3N2) virus.

Yet right in many workplaces, waiting to pounce, is another far more lethal health threat most decision-takers know nothing about. Even though every business manager is personally responsible for seeing teams are properly protected. And is liable to a £5,000 fine, a further company fine, and possibly a custodial sentence for 18 months if they’re not.

Legionella is a pneumonia-related bacterium that breeds in water systems. Still-standing water, like in office air-con cooling systems, or the showerheads in the washroom. It spreads by air, so you breathe it in.

And it’s so deadly, the Health & Safety people throw the book at you if it’s discovered on your watch.  A £1 million fine for JTF Wholesale after two men died.  £1.8 million for G4S Cash Solutions – for putting over 200 people at risk and dragging their heels for 3 years over fixing it.

Stick or carrot

Fail to protect staff and it’s big stick time.

But to keep things on a business footing, preventing team illnesses is also big carrot time. Not so much catch 22 – more like common sense.

What does it cost in gym membership, medical check ups, keep fit classes, stop smoking clinics and fresh fruit in reception to have an impressive-looking wellness package on place?

As much as 25% of your salary bill?

Because that’s how much is lost every year from team members under-performing at their desks.

And that’s on top of the 6 days absenteeism most businesses have for every staff member – at an average £522 per head.

You read that right, under-performing at their desks. And that’s the catch 22.

It’s called presenteeism and we all do it – drag ourselves into work when we’re not feeling well. And kidding ourselves we’re up to the job, even though the room’s going round, figures look all blurry and a pounding head makes any communication impossible.

57.5 days a year we’re like that – every one of us.  Almost three working months.

Every 3 days

That’s not continuous time either. It’s all in fits and starts, something throwing us off our game roughly every 3 days. A day out of it, another day bouncing back – then starting all over again. Three working months plus.

Which means, do the math. Right now you’re paying everyone 12 months salary, but they’re only giving you 9 months worth of value. The rest is fumbling around, going through the motions and quite possibly counter-productive.

But take away THE CAUSE of being unwell and you up productivity by one third – from the 9 months you get now, plus a reclaimed 3 months  – bringing you back to a full 12 month year.

OK, it’s not all caused by germs.

People have long-standing conditions, disabilities, physical injuries and musculoskeletal pain.

They’re also stressed. Worried about relationships, finances and job security. All three of which can be job related, MAKING them depressed and prone to illness. Or in turn, being the driving motive to come to work, even though they’re so unwell they feel like death. A catch 22 of their own.

Germs, germs, germs

Which makes the major chunk of everything germs. Exposure to germs in the workplace – where lots of people work closely together, sharing the same space, touching the same things, breathing the same air. Infecting themselves and contagious to each other – all stirred around by highly efficient HVAC systems.

Sloppy hygiene doesn’t help. Because we can’t see germs, we don’t see there’s a problem.

So we take chances. A few unsavoury facts:

For the same reasons, our surroundings are no safer:

But take away the germs, and all these issues go away too. A REAL wellness programme that PREVENTS GERMS – with a boost to productivity that makes others look like chicken feed.

And it’s so easily done.

REAL wellness – and no catch 22

Antibacterial wipes or gel on every desk to reduce the personal risk. And a nightly sterilising regime on top of the regular cleaning schedule.

Quick and simple like misting the place up with germ-killing hydrogen peroxide. ALL germs eliminated to a 6-log Sterility Assurance Level, safe every morning when staff come in fresh.

Forget the golden handcuffs, this way everybody wins.

It’s not rocket science either. Simply a wellness programme that keeps people well.

No catch 22 about it. And isn’t that wellness programmes are supposed to be?

Picture Copyright: dr911 / 123RF Stock Photo