Tag Archives: presenteeism

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.

33% more productivity for less than £30 a day, easy-peasy

No germs exec
All that money you never knew you were losing – you’ve got it back with interest for under £30 a day

Amazing, but very possible. And for less than £30 a day.

About what you’d pay for your Mrs Mop cleaning service.

Probably less if you have a dozen or more staff – all those desks and floor space.

Which makes this a productivity health hack most other CEOs would kill for.

Especially if they knew how easy and inexpensive it was.

Broken and not on the radar

Well, who wouldn’t want 33% MORE productivity without paying an arm and a leg?

So simple the way it works too.

Just by getting rid of germs.

Not something that’s on your radar usually, is it? Or something that you think of doing.

A why fix it if it ain’t broke sort of thing.

But it IS broke.

And without pro-active prevention, the way it gets handled is re-active correction.

If it’s handled at all. Because nobody’s ill right now, so the usual thing is do nothing.

Which basically means if staff fall ill, that’s their problem.

You’re sympathetic of course, but you just accept it. And so do they.

Luck of the draw. Happens all the time, right? Some bug hits them, they go see the Doc, get put on meds, possibly need hospital. From your point of view, an HR asset out of action for a while.

Or heroically toughing it out and coming in to work anyway. Committed, loyal, one of your star performers.

But either way, costing a lot more than £30 a day.

What’s that?

Surely it doesn’t cost anything at all?

Losing hand over fist

Oh yes, it does. And it’s money you lose every time. Either in hard cash or in lost productivity.

For starters, if they’re absent, you’re losing around £87 a day – more than double the £30 a day we’re rabbiting on about.

That’s not our figure, it’s the CIPD’s (Chartered Institute of Personnel Development).

In their annual Absenteeism Management report they calculate that most team members take 6 days sick leave a year at an average cost of £522, or £87 a day. (For the public sector, it’s £835, or £92.77 a day over 9 days)

Not a consideration because you don’t pay sick leave? Better think again.

That’s what they cost in taking up the slack while they’re gone. Other team members on extra hours, delay penalties, temp staff – sometimes a lot more than £87.

Not a lot of money in the great scheme of things. No alarm bells, nothing to lose sleep over. So it winds up in whatever slush fund you’re running for eventualities – or more often, buried as petty cash.

But that’s not where it ends. Because unwell team members coming in to work (presenteeism) cost 10 times more – £5,220.

Why? Because being unwell at work occurs 10 times more than taking off sick – 57.5 days a year on average, almost 3 working months.

Not getting your money’s worth

And during that time your slick qualified professional is just a shadow of themselves, feeling grim as all hell and going through the motions. Chances are also high that if it’s anything contagious, other team members will go down with it too.

Which is way worse than an HR asset out of action. At least if a staffer is off sick, you can arrange a substitute. But unwell-at-work is more like a machine with an intermittent fault – unreliable because you can’t tell when – or if – it’s functioning properly or not.

And still – even though it’s costing money, you’re paying for 12 months’ productivity but only getting 9 – the usual procedure is to do nothing.

The team member plods on, swallowing tablets every few hours and unable to think straight – management nods admiringly at such selfless commitment – and neither takes any action.

Mistakes are made, costs incurred – and the only lead is external. By medical intervention AFTER the condition has asserted itself – not prevention BEFORE.

“Do nothing” doesn’t work

All that money – invisible because it’s already assigned as salary – is lost to the world as underperforming productivity.

Things take longer, get done wrong and have to be done again, or get missed out altogether. Not because the system needs upgrading, or new efficiencies need to be put in place – but because some poor unfortunate is not feeling well and unable to perform properly.

The stable door is bolted, the horse is long gone – with no attempt to avoid the situation in the first place.

Prevention is better than cure – yeah, right.

Except it is right.

And the whole system necessary to achieve effective prevention is already available off-the-shelf – at under £30 a day, lock, stock and barrel.

Prevention – for less than Mrs Mop

Like we say, the same or less than you’re already paying for Mrs Mop. And stacked up against £87 per day, per team member – no contest.

How does it work?

By misting up the place with germ-killing hydrogen peroxide. All germs are oxidised to nothing, there are no infections to catch – in around 40 minutes on average, your workplace is completely sterile.

And there you have it. A healthy team, fully functioning productivity, healthy profits.

Because instead of giving you only 9 months of effort, your team are now generating 12 months’ worth – a full 33% more.

Worth £30 a day don’t you think?

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

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

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

Highway robbery for sure.

But hang on.

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

More inescapable than taxes.

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

Shock, horror

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

Just the reality of productivity lost from staff being unwell.

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

Better sit down, this might come as a shock.

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

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

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

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

Loose cannons

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

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

It gets worse.

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

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

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

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

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

Ghosts in the machine

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

Look at it this way.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Exorcising ghosts

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

Yet that’s what ALL businesses pay.

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

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

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

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

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

Productivity risks

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

Or that in most business work environments:.

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

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

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

Unnecessary losses

Unnecessary?

You’d better believe it.

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

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

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

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

How’s it done?

Get rid of the germs, get rid of the ghosts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Especially with productivity.

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

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

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

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

Don’t beat yourself up about it.

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

Invisible black hole

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

If only.

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

The short answer is, you don’t.

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

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

Which is what being unwell does.

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

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

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

Until you consider the cost.

Start counting

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Down the tubes

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

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

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

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

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

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

OK, so now it’s magic wand time.

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

Abracadabra

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

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

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

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

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

A lot easier than you think.

Washing your hands of it

By upping business hygiene levels and keeping them there.

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

Which why we should never judge by appearances.

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

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

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

Simultaneous with that are the hazards we expose ourselves to:

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

Getting rid of germs

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

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

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

Sounds expensive?

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

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

All the way to the bank

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

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

How to get staff working 13 months a year for the same money

Office sprinter
Ready and raring to go. When staff are well and healthy, productivity can go through the roof

13 months a year? There’s got to be a catch.

12 months is demanding enough – who would want to work 13?

Which of course, exactly IS the catch.

Because though they might be at work for a full 12 months, staff don’t actually deliver 12 months’ productivity.

They deliver 11.

Sure thing, you’re paying for 12. But 11 is what you get, even in the most motivated organisations.

And in reality, it’s closer 9. Which means a whole three months of input you’re losing out on.

Time lost to what HR people call presenteeism. Like absenteeism, only it happens in the workplace. Staff inability to do stuff because they’re feeling unwell. Right there at their desks, but out of it.

The cost of unwellness at work

A growing headache for businesses, presenteeism.

Absenteeism most bosses can understand. Staff feel ill, they take time off – easy enough to budget for.

6 days per staff member per year for the average organisation. All taken care of, unless they’re goofing off – except we’re not talking disciplinary issues here.

OK, so time off for being sick. Across the country, that’s an eye-watering cost of £29 billion a year according to a four-year-old survey by business gurus PwC. Inevitably way more than that now.

Totally dwarfed though, alongside presenteeism – a massive productivity loss of 10 times more. A monumental  cost to the country of £290 billion. That’s per Global Corporate Challenge (now Virgin Pulse), in a 2016 study validated against the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Workplace Health and Productivity Questionnaire.

The Harvard Business Review agrees. So does America’s leading supplier of workplace wellness equipment.

57.5 days per year on average, lost to presenteeism – staff unwell at work and unable to perform at full capacity.

Fixing the problem

OK, roughly a third of this is difficult to do anything about.  It’s mechanical stuff, problems with bones and muscles – the back pain that refuses to go away, recurring cramps and spasms.

Stressed out staff are another issue, though execs might not like the implications. These are a further third who are depressed, fretting about performance or relationships at work, struggling with family issues and bereavements.

Not helped by UK bosses’ lousy management reputation  and even worse behaviour towards staff.

The final third is staff brought down by illness. Physical distress caused by infection – anything from minor ailments to life-threatening diseases. A major problem yes, but the one sector that management CAN do something about.

That’s because there’s one generic cause that can be pretty well eliminated from the workplace.

Germs.

It’s a fact of life that germs surround us all of the time. We’re even made of germs ourselves – 50% of our bodies are our own good bacteria handling digestion, creating proteins, managing our immune systems and plenty more.

The invisible threat

Germs are tiny, so we never see them.

But they’re everywhere – on every surface, filling the air. Everything we touch, everything we breathe is another exposure to potentially harmful viruses, bacteria and fungi determined to have a go at us.

Except we never see them, so we never think about them. Which explains why our own personal hygiene is a potentially serious risk:

Doesn’t look dirty, so doesn’t get attention.

Get rid of the germs

Staring us in the face, isn’t it?

Take away the germs and you take away office infections.

No more constant exposure and struggling to cope with a headache, tummy twinge or rasping cough every three days – which most of us suffer on average. Staff can focus on the job in hand, apply 100% of themselves, exert maximum productivity.

And all it takes is the touch of a button.

The one on the front panel of a Hypersteriliser mist generator.  That distributes germ-killing hydrogen peroxide in all directions and deep into cracks and crevices. That oxidises ALL germs to oblivion in around 40 minutes, so the whole place is sterile.

Lucky 13

And there’s your 13 months, right there. One third of your 57.5 days of presenteeism neutralised – a whole working month.

You’re paying for 12. And getting another one free, gratis, and for nothing, just by talking out germs.

Cashing in on bonuses too  – from the feelgood.

Staff feeling healthy and motivated. WANTING to go the extra mile – because their bodies tell them they can. Keen to show they’re the champions and better than anyone else. A bulge in your bank balance you never even knew could be there.

All invisibly caused of course, you can’t see germs when they’re dead either.

A complete productivity turnaround – and how it’s done is your secret.

Your lucky 13.

Picture Copyright: lightwave / 123RF Stock Photo

First UNEQUAL pay, now TOO MUCH sick leave – how misreading women makes business losses snowball

Unfair to women
Being sick at work is bad enough, no wonder women are sick of the attitude

Women are right to be furious. Because what is British business becoming, a misogynists’ bean-feast?

Hard on the scandal of unequal pay for women come fingers pointing at disproportionate sick leave.

“An additional 2.8 million days of absenteeism more than men in the past three months alone, ” according to a report. 19.8 million days lost, versus  17 million.

How shocking. How disgraceful.

Unequal everything

You can feel the prejudices kicking in, can’t you?

All those clichés about headaches, period pains and emotional upsets. Easy to misread when your own most regular health distress is likely to be a hangover.

Oh sure, some issues are serious.

A gastric attack like norovirus is no joke. Neither is flu, especially the H1N1 variety – hovering at the edge of pneumonia and just waiting to do you in.

Yeah, men can suffer these too. But never any of the other anguish that comes from being a woman.

Which puts management understanding of women’s wellbeing about on a par with that hangover. A minor issue to be suffered in silence against the unbreakable discipline of being at one’s desk.

Uh huh.

And does management ever consider the QUALITY of such work with a pounding head or churning stomach? How good that might be for business?

Multiply that hangover several times over for period pain – especially if accompanied by dysmenorrhoea, the days of spasms experienced by many women on both sides of it.

Boiled knitting syndrome

Now try to give full attention to that sales meeting. Or input that critical figure with the decimal point in the right place. Or respond to that crucial client request so easily glossed over in a telephone call.

Just a few hours being unwell at one’s desk can cost thousands. Far more than the salary days lost staying at home in bed. A whole million pound contract and more – down the tubes with a phone call, a missing staple, a misstyped computer key.

So what kind of a manager allows a staff member to influence business when they’re not capable? As long as everybody’s at their desk, who’s going to notice that productivity’s gone for a ball of chalk?

Sod’s Law, isn’t it? Everything drags its heels. Processing gets continually stuck in the works. A job that should take five days takes ten. The wheels keep coming off.

And all because they’re women. Look, that one there, holding her head.

Sure, she has a string of degrees as long as your arm, passed out top of her class at business school – but what kind of asset can ANYBODY  be when their brain is like boiled knitting?

Take off – it’s better for business

So OK, women have to take off more days than men.

Let them do it. Insist on it.

Because yes, it’s scary that absenteeism costs the country £29 billion a year.

What’s even scarier is that the cost of presenteeism – being unwell at work – is TEN TIMES HIGHER. As you can work out for yourself in your own business, here.

You see, though the bean counter’s perspective is that staff assets are supposed to perform according to their salary package 100% of the time – reality is that they’re off-colour for 25% of it, experiencing pain or nagging discomfort roughly every three days.

And that’s men as well as women. Except men tough it out more often – increasing the opportunity for mistakes and oversights. Women know better.

Which makes paying for sick leave the easy bit.

Nobody imagines picking up the tab for a string of omissions, errors or misdeals. But that’s what most businesses do, every day of the year. Written off as inevitable – when it’s unthinking management that is really to blame.

Pilots and bus drivers aren’t allowed to fly or drive drunk. But that’s what staff do when they try to function while ill at work. And management encourage it instead of sending them home.

Paying for mistakes, how smart is that?

OK, so the business may not crash and burn like a 747. But unaware and unseen, profitability takes a hit out of all proportion to the perceived economy of insisting staff are all at work all the time.

Especially with women.

Naturally more caring and sympathetic than men – more customer responsive and sensitive to needs. Biologically built that way.

And management wants to pay them less?

AND penalise them for days off because of who they are?

Like we said, a misogynists’ bean-feast.

Lets hope for sake of all of us that more women get through that glass ceiling soon.

How much could you be paying for invisible liabilities?

Thinking exec
Hmm – money you never even knew you had, all going down the tubes from germs. Enough is enough!

Wait a minute, invisible liabilities?

There’s no gaps on your balance sheet, everything’s all accounted for. What myths are we on about?

Actually, they’re a black hole.

And they’re probably invisible because you’ve written them off as something else.

There’s plenty of evidence of them though.

Just run your finger across your desk. Along the back, where all the computer cables are.

See it now?

Dust, city grime, crumbs from al desko lunches, general office detritus.

Yes, dirt. But that’s not all.

Too small to see, too expensive to ignore

It’s evidence of the real liabilities. Germs too small for the eye to see. That’s why they’re invisible.

OK, so germs. Maybe your office cleaners missed a bit.

Except germs are everywhere, all the time. Even in the air we breathe.

And they’re not all harmless.

Sitting in air conditioned splendour, you may not have heard of legionnaire’s disease.

But it’s your duty as a manager to protect your staff from it. A silly little germ not even a thousandth the thickness of a human hair.

Except that’s the law. As JTF Wholesale found recently when a £1 million fine hit them for neglecting it. And as G4S Cash Solutions discovered when Harlow Council nailed them for £1.8 million.

Which means, don’t mess around – get an expert to advise you.

Deadly too

Because you see, legionnaire’s disease is a nasty killer kind of super-pneumonia. And it breeds in water systems, central heating and air-con cooling towers. In pipes and showers too – anywhere that water lies still for more than a few hours.

Spread by air, once you breathe that in, it’s serious. Especially with a previous condition. Asthma perhaps, or a dicky ticker – even being a smoker is enough. Then it’s hospital and drugs and even then you might not make it.

And that’s just ONE of your invisible liabilities.

There’s plenty of others you can get hit for too – if you don’t take precautions.

Around 30 other notifiable diseases on the governments infectious diseases list. Monsters like cholera, typhoid, measles SARS, smallpox and yellow fever.

Duty of care

Not that you’re likely to see any of them. But it’s your duty to make sure your staff haven’t got them – per the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 (RIDDOR).

Yes, sure – nothing to do with you. Unless it happens.

Nothing like the non-events in your workplace. A few snuffles and tummy bugs – chicken feed.

You wish.

It’s those day-to-day bugs that are your real invisible liabilities.

And we mean day-to-day. Surprisingly, every one of us only feels up to 100% par for two or three days at a time. Otherwise, in some way or other, we’re all off-colour several times a week. An ache, a twinge, an iffy feeling, always something.

Money, money, money

Which is why, for starters, business experts PwC put losses from absenteeism at around £29 billion a year.

Hardly chicken feed.

Even more costly are the heroes who struggle to work when they’re not well. Not fully recovered from something, but worried about job security. Wrestling with flu, and the same worries. Or staggering in with tummy cramps, and determined not to be fired.

Presenteeism, it’s called. And experts reckon it costs 10 times more than absenteeism – £290 billion a year.

Put the two together and that’s £319 billion that illness costs UK businesses.

Germonomics

So let’s see – £319 billion, possible fines of £1 million or more. Oh yes, and if you have a suspected outbreak of any kind, the Health & Safety people have a thing called their fee for intervention, which is also not pocket money.

Plus of course, all the losses caused by under-performing or not fully-focused staff desperate to keep going. Mistakes, missed deadlines, clients rubbed up the wrong way and other disasters. Germonomics we call it – and to calculate what it could be costing your own business, click here.

Seems those invisible liabilities are pretty hefty.

And the fix?

For under £1,000 a month your facilities management people can buy a machine that will ELIMINATE germs for you – as in eradicate, clear out, sterilise.

Or maybe your cleaning service can do it for you for few hundred extra.

A nightly mist-up with ionised hydrogen peroxide and ALL germs are gone – hunted out of existence by a prowling tiger of a germ-killer.

Give yourself a raise

Yeah, there might still be dust and breadcrumbs when you run your finger down your desk. But count on it, there’ll be NO germs. Your place is safe and secure to a 6-log Sterility Assurance Level.

Tell you what else.

You might not have been able to see your invisible liabilities. But you sure as heck won’t be able to hide the sudden dividend that getting rid of them will trigger.

Maybe you’ll even get yourself a raise out of it.

Why your biggest threat to business is one you can’t see

Blindfolded businesswoman
Blind to the risks – just because we can’t SEE germs doesn’t mean they’re not there

Can’t see it – and possibly don’t even know that it exists.

But one just like it recently killed two people and hospitalised 21 others – landing discount warehouse JTF Wholesale with a £1 million fine, plus £200,000 in damages.

They were lucky it didn’t cost them jail sentences – for negligence contributing to manslaughter.

And why couldn’t they see it?

Because a single cell of the bacteria that caused this tragedy – legionella pneumophila, known more commonly as legionnaire’s disease – is only 3 microns across. Invisible to the naked eye without 10,000 times microscope magnification.

It was lurking in a hot tub on display, waiting for customers to prey on. The tub hadn’t been used for weeks, allowing the bacteria to grow – spreading through the air as soon as it was turned on.

Anywhere, any time, germs are waiting

Which is all it takes to spread legionella anywhere – a water system that stands still for a few days, or even hours. Like hot water systems for showers and central heating. Or holding tanks for air conditioning systems.

Basically any business premises – office or shop.

And by law it is the duty of any management to ensure that staff and employees are protected from exposure to this deadly killer.

Bet you didn’t know that – but it’s there.

And ignorantia juris non excusat – ignorance of the law is no excuse.

You ARE obliged to provide protection from germs – part of your duty of care.

Check out the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 (HSWA), the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations (MHSWR) and the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH).

Fail to ensure your people are safe and a £1 million fine is not impossible. It’s happened before. Last year, G4S Cash Solutions was fined £1.8 million for similarly putting people at risk.

Out of money, out of business

Big bucks. Enough to put even rock solid companies well and truly out of business.

But that’s only the beginning of what invisible germs are already costing you – if only you knew it. Threats you can’t see, chomping away at your bottom line.

For a start, business experts PwC put absenteeism – days off sick from work – at £29 BILLION.

But more realistically, germs cost 10 TIMES MORE than that in presenteeism – people struggling to work while still unwell.

And it’s not just legionella.

In any unprotected business, staff and customers have all kinds of other germs to cope with. From everyday colds and flu, or tummy bugs like norovirus – to serious illnesses like e.coli, clostridium difficile, campylobacter and MRSA. All superbugs that cannot be treated by antibiotics.

And all costing THOUSANDS right now without really realising it. The price of accepting illness as a fact of life – instead of doing something about it.

Get out of jail free

Because it’s all fixable for very little effort or expense – including legionella.

OK, with legionella, you DO need to know what you’re doing, so you’re best off consulting the experts.

But for pretty well everything else, a daily mist up of ionised hydrogen peroxide is all it takes to remove ALL viruses and bacteria. Easily handled by your existing cleaning service or your own facilities management team.

You can’t see it working apart from the mist. But you can tell it has.

Any smells that were lingering in your premises are now gone. And any trace of mould has now turned from black to grey – dead cells ready to be swept away.

Still can’t see it?

Ask your bank

Wait till you check your bank balance and productivity levels.

Fewer absences, fewer underperformances from staff unwell at work. More enthusiasm, more commitment to succeed. Greater support from customers and suppliers.

Worth a bob or two, no?

And you’d have to be blind not to see it.