How to turn ill at work costs upside down – and sail into better profits

Exec floating in umbrella
Ill at work costs – when it rains, it pours. But you can float easy – at least you can get some of your own back

Never heard of ill at work costs?

That’s what you’re stumping up when your best sales champ has a blinding headache – and makes a hash of that latest deal with your top client.

Plus the salary portion of them sitting at their desk while they’re doing it, feeling like all hell. At 40 – 50% of their capability maybe, when you’re paying for a full 100%.

Just one instance out of many, right?

Because how many others wake up feeling like the end of the world, but come to work anyway – to make mayhem where they’re usually top notch? Ill at work in action.

More than you think – because it’s off the radar

A lot of money to lose. And a lot of money you’ve already paid out. At best for less-than-perfect performance – at worst for a full-on train smash.

How much money?

Grab your calculator and check this out.

According to a healthcare survey some years ago, we each of us experience 124 ailments of some kind every year. That’s one every 3 days. Incidents of ill health ranging from minor like a bruised elbow – to major, like an infection that puts us in hospital.

On average, we get the physical delights of regular headaches, 80 bouts of back pain, continuous bumps and bruises, 3 sore throats, 4 cases of heartburn, 4 cricked necks, 5 cuts, 5 cramps, 6 upset stomachs, 2 shaving cuts, 3 stubbed toes, 3 bitten tongues, 1 loss of voice, 1 electric shock, 3 paper cuts, 2 pulled muscles, 2 stitches, 1 nosebleed, 3 falls, 2 bouts of blisters, 2 earaches, 1 eye infection and 3 colds.

At the same time, we are likely to have some kind of infection challenge with asthma, influenza, bladder infections (UTI), bronchitis, conjunctivitis, respiratory infections, sinus infections, migraines, heartburn or gastric reflux, and gastric infections  leading to nausea, diarrhoea, and vomiting.

Most of these are borderline stay-at-home issues – particularly the physical ones. Too frequent and too minor to justify staying in bed, so we bring them to work and struggle on. These are your ill at work costs.

Spooky expenses

By now you’re probably looking at four and five figure numbers – the price of under-performance, mistakes and missed business. You haven’t even added in days off sick yet.

So to give you a better perspective, here’s a germonomics calculator to keep track of the spookier costs. We’ve left out the physical mishaps because they’re going to happen anyway – accidents from lack of attention, or just plain misfortune.

The infectious ones though, are something you CAN address. By ensuring that at least in the workplace, there’s less chance of catching anything or passing it on to others.

How?

By getting rid of workplace germs, so they can’t happen. Most easily by adding to your nightly tidy up and vacuum when everyone’s gone home.

No germs, no illnesses to catch, everybody functioning at 100% – no mistakes, no oversights, no glitches – ill at work costs are reduced, you get all the productivity you pay for.

Bye-bye germs, hello productivity

It’s easily done too. By your cleaning service or an independent. Or even doing it yourself.

One press of a button mists up the place with hydrogen peroxide, which oxidises all the germs – viruses, bacteria, mould, fungi, the works. Forty minutes later and it’s germ-free – 99.9999% of all pathogens gone, to a Log-6 Sterility Assurance Level.

OK, it’s not going to stop all the cuts and scrapes – but most people can live with those. But it WILL ease all the head stuff that infections can cause. Get back to clear thinking, being alert, staying on the ball.

All things that high-powered professional staff are good at – WHEN THEY’RE FEELING WELL.

Plus there’s the revved-up feeling of going for it. Being motivated, committed, wanting to achieve – what kind of a bonus can you put on that?

Ill at work costs? No big deal. Not any more, at any rate.

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Antibiotic resistant superbugs: back to basics now Plan B no longer saves lives

Space scrubber
The heck with Plan B – without antibiotics, it’s back to the future to survive germs

Once upon a time there was no such thing as antibiotics. No Plan B.

No superbugs to catch if they were resistant. People survived by living clean and healthy.

What kept us alive back then was clean water supplies, good sewerage, proper waste removal and high personal hygiene.

Kids went to school, washed and polished, hands and faces bright from brushing. All water was boiled. And washing got done the hard way – by hours of rubbing and scrubbing.

It worked too. People knew that living clean kept them safe from germs. Dirt made you sick.

Then antibiotics came along and people started taking chances. Dirt might make you sick, but antibiotics made you well again. Doctors could perform miracles without risk of infection. To infinity, and beyond.

Our great hygiene leap – backwards

Fifty years later, our water systems are older. Make that ancient – they were 100 years old in the first place. Pipes have rusted, other stuff has seeped in, leaks enough to fill 1,235 Olympic swimming pools a day flood our streets.

Our waste problems are even worse. For instance, in 2013 and 2014, 1.4 BILLION TONS of raw sewage were pumped into the Thames, far more than before our sewer system was even invented.

In the meantime, we’ve also become careless.

A little dirt in our lives? No problem, antibiotics will make us better when we get sick – wonder lifesavers for everything, so we gobble them down like sweets. And today we get away with chances our grandparents would never have dreamed of.

Except that germs no longer want to play that game. After 50 years of misuse and abuse, they learned how to survive antibiotics. To become immune. To stay alive, no matter what we chuck at them, resistant even to our last-resort triple-whammy specials.

Last resort drugs failure

Today, when all else fails, doctors fall back on two hard-core antibiotics they keep in the back of the cupboard. Carbapenems (actually a whole spectrum of antibacterials) and colistin. Our antibiotics Plan B.

Now here’s the bad news.

Carbapenems are already compromised by the emergence of a superbug more potent than existing villains like MRSA (methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus). Known as carbapenem-resistant enterobacteriaceae (CRE), around 50% of people who get it into their bloodstream die.

Very much the second choice because of its kidney-damaging side-effect, colistin is not much better. Chinese researchers first found a strain of escherichia coli resistant to it in 2013.  Not surprising, since down the road is a factory producing 10,000 tons of it a year – as a growth promoter for pigs and poultry.

So that’s it for Plan B, then. What now?

Our horrible hygiene habits

Back to basics, of course. It worked for our ancestors, it can work for us too.

And keep us alive.

Amazing what you can do with soap and water, isn’t it?

Which we certainly need to climb into. There’s three times more of us on the planet than there was back then. Which means three times more germs, because we’re all made of bacteria anyway.  Plus the personal germ clouds each of us carries around with us. And three times more  sewage – 11 million tons A DAY in London alone.

That’s a lot of germs, all milling around waiting to infect us. Waiting for us to get careless.

Which we seriously do, because we can’t see germs. They’re too small.

So we look at our hands and we reckon they’re clean.

As if.

Meanwhile, our reality check is that:

Since we’re that dirty, our workplaces are not so clean either. All those things that never get cleaned – light switches, door handles, touch screens and keypads. Not forgetting our desks of course, with 10 million germs on average, just waiting to have a go at us.

Wash your hands – or else

Puts a new perspective on why we’re always coming down with colds and tummy bugs, doesn’t it? We’re lucky it’s not something more serious. Which, with something like sepsis and NO ANTIBIOTICS THAT WORK, it could easily be. A simple paper cut could be the infection that kills us.

Which is why we should be getting rid of the germs around us too – in the workplace, in restaurants and public buildings, in schools – even on public transport.

You leave home healthy, your hand grabs banisters, strap handles, escalator railings and door knobs.  Then you pick up the office phone, which hasn’t been wiped since it was installed five years ago – and wonder where the tummy cramps came from that night.

So, get rid of the germs if we want to survive. Make it part of the daily cleaning routine so the place is always safe first thing in the morning. All it takes is a dose of ionised hydrogen peroxide every night and the place is sterile.

OK, so if antibiotics aren’t working, there are options besides Plan B.

Ramp up the hygiene and it’s back to the future – saving our own lives.

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Bioterrorist attacks: our safest quick defence?

Businessmen looking at Halo
Bioterrorists are ALWAYS a threat, but with a Halo Hypersteriliser the germs they unleash can be destroyed completely

Doesn’t look like much, does it, this machine? A sort of high-tech wheelie-bin, maybe. But every bioterrorist in the remotest desert hideout will be cursing.

Grinding their teeth that even biological weapons can be thwarted – and their fall-out mostly neutralised.

Because there they are, hoping to unleash a fast-moving airborne pathogen like weaponised anthrax or smallpox.

Dread diseases that could kill more than 30 million people in less than a year.

And this business must-have will stop their attempt dead in its tracks.

Effective protection

OK, it won’t STOP an attack. But press the button on this thing and it takes out ALL airborne germs in around 40 minutes – bacteria, viruses, fungi, mould.

Which includes anthrax, if you remember that US scare post- 9/11. Anthrax, bacillus anthracis, it’s a germ like any other.

So is smallpox, variola vera, another possible bioterrorist choice. Experimented with by scientists during World War II – and actually manufactured as a weapon by the old Soviet Union in Zagorsk during the 80s.  

Both are pretty scaryone a bacterium, the other a virus.  But both are destroyed with equal ease by this precision Hypersteriliser – in the air or on surfaces. The end of any bioterrorist threat right there.

Activating the machine mists up the whole place with ionised hydrogen peroxide – charged particles that grab at pathogens on the fly, oxidising them to oblivion. Oxygen atoms rip their cell structure apart.

All that’s left is oxygen and tiny quantities of water, which evaporate.

Oh, and an microscopic-thin film of colloidal silver on all surfaces – a barrier against further germ contamination that lasts for up to a week.

Ready for the worst

Could a bioterrorist attack really happen?

It’s increasingly likely, says Microsoft founder and world leader Bill Gates. A greater risk than a nuclear attack – and more deadly than a pandemic. Like the 1918 flu that killed 50 million people – three times the dead of World War I.

Actually stopping an attack though is near impossible. The first of the American 2001 anthrax incidents was triggered by spores released from an ordinary innocent-looking letter. Unpredictable even with the tightest security.

But neutralising the outcome is easy – as long as it happens indoors, the most likely target choice. Releasing a pathogen in open air is iffy and risks quick dissipation by wind – or even surging back and overwhelming the bioterrorist himself.

Indoors though is enclosed space. Safe from outside. Safe too from harmful pathogens because the Hypersteriliser makes sure of it. It just has to be deployed as quickly as possible – before any pathogen has a chance to spread or infect anyone.

And we have to learn how to be ready.

Already in place – to save money

Savvy organisations will already have a machine on standby – part of their regular cleaning and workplace hygiene routine. It’s not just bioterrorist attacks we have to worry about, it’s day-to-day germs as well. Like colds and flu for instance.

Sure everybody gets colds – and usually thinks nothing of it. An uncomfortable nuisance for a few days, not worth worrying about.

Unless you count the cost of wonky people trying to do their job when they’re not fully up to it. Far from skiving off from work, they’re doing more harm sitting there suffering and going through the motions.

They wouldn’t drive a car while drunk or intoxicated – but their infection impairs them more than they know. How many mistakes or oversights can they make without even realising it? And how many of their colleagues can they bring down with them, just by breathing the same air?

Illness in the workplace costs 10 times more than staff off sick, which is is why taking anti-germ action is increasingly part of any business operation.

Why pay out thousands for below-standard performance – instead of investing in health protection and realising full potential?

Maximised assets

Add the increasing threat of bioterrorist attacks and workplace hygiene becomes a security need as well as an effective safeguard for maximising human assets.

And it’s not just anthrax or smallpox you’re taking care of. A short list of typical bio-threats  can be found here, but it’s ANY germ you would be neutralising.

All of which is probably in Bill Gates’ mind when he cautions us against bioterrorist threats. Yet another reason why he is still the world’s richest man.

Protecting the workplace from germs keeps us healthy – and alive.

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Straight germonomics: forget absentee costs, staff unwell at work will cost you 10 times more

Broke business bloke
You can’t see germs that make staff unwell at work. You can’t see the costs they incur either – until you start paying for them

Staff off sick and in bed you can plan for. But unwell at work, with a screaming headache or twisting gut, they’re the ultimate loose cannons.

How’s their focus? Their attention to detail? Will they push the right buttons, or screw things up completely?

And how about their customer-facing skills?

Smiling selves, or horror-hounds from hell?

The real price of loyalty

Not the sharp professionals you thought you were paying for, hey?

But they’re at their desks – loyalty unquestioned.

Committed and going for it – but dragging you down with them. Because right now, the way they’re feeling, you’d be better off without them.

At least you can budget for them if they’re away. Six days off for most people (the CIPD average), temp cost or catch-up overtime – easy peasy.

Yeah? But how often do they play hero? Struggle in to work, insides like boiled knitting – but not bad enough to justify staying away?

57.5 days according to a GCC study validated by the World Health Organisation.  Almost three working months – and a whole 10 times more than you’re budgeting for sick costs.

And that’s only the beginning. How much extra are you paying for mistakes, oversights, forgotten follow-ups – or messed-up customer relations?

Nine months worth – or a year’s?

Get ready for a shock. Because on top of the fudges and hiccups, effectively you’re only getting nine months worth of work out of the professionals you hired specially.

But you’re paying for a full twelve.

Which means if you could wave a magic wand so they WEREN’T unwell at work – you’d gain yourself a whole third of a year’s productivity from each of them.

All for the same money.

Germonomics in action.

Achievable too.

Because being unwell at work is very often from germs picked up at work.

Large groups of people all working together – sharing the same space, the same air, using and touching the same facilities.

And not really protected at all, if you think about it.

Your cleaning crew come in every evening – and what do they do?

Vacuum around some, empty the waste bins, give the place a quick wipe-down. Nothing that actually gets rid of germs.

Yes, well OK – not in their remit, is it?

Lurking hazards – the downside risk

Meanwhile there’s germs there, all right. Plenty of them too. As scare headlines in the media keep reminding us. 10 million on every desk, for starters. More on the light switches, door handles, keypads and touch screens. You get the picture.

Plus the personal germ clouds that each of us carries around with us. Most of the time benign or harmless – but who knows what they might do to other people?

Plus the awkward fact that none of us are really that good about personal hygiene. If our hands don’t LOOK dirty, we reckon they’re clean. As if we could see a bunch of microbes so small that a billion could fit on the point of a pin!

Meanwhile

Duty of care

Yes, so?

Part of your duty of care is to keep staff secure. Out of the cold, away from damp, in non-hazardous surroundings. Safe from germs like legionella, which you are required by law to ensure.

Except legionella’s not the only one. There’s billions more germs than that, just waiting for the opportunity. And not just the usuals either – like colds and flu and tummy bugs.

Pretty well every one of us carries a few cells of MRSA and other nasties.

Plus with all kinds of other infection possibilities about, the simplest paper cut could cause sepsis. In just hours, a professional member of staff could be dead. On your watch.

Germ-free – the upside gain

Unless of course, you work the other side of germonomics – and turn potential health deficits into dividends.

By making hygiene a key factor in your nightly clean up – ensuring ALL germs are safely destroyed every evening after staff have gone home.

No viruses, no bacteria, no mould, no fungi – 99.9999% sterile.

All press-button easy – by misting up the place with ionised hydrogen peroxide on top of your regular cleaning routine.

Forty minutes is all it usually takes to oxidise germs to nothing. To remove the major cause of making people unwell at work and be sure they’re safe.

And to make your productivity a whole ONE-THIRD better than it is at the moment.

Not so tight for cash now, hey?

Now see how your staff perform when they’re well and motivated – and the feel-good factor kicks in.

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