Tag Archives: prevention

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.

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 many other health protection systems keep paying your money back, over and over again?

Exultant businessman
Not a system that costs, a system that PAYS – and how much better can that be?

Actually, how many other health protection systems do you know about, at all?

Health protection?

Like stop illnesses before they start?

Exactly that.

Prevention is always better than cure.

Anyway, who wants to get sick, feel like death, rush off to the doctor, get medicine and be out of circulation for a few days?

Much better to avoid it altogether, don’t you think?

Which is what health protection is all about.

And to blow our own trumpet, we think the one we’re associated with is the best in the world.

Because it works, is why.

Where the germs are

It gets rid of harmful germs – even when clean-up teams have had go after go at doing it already – deep clean with bleach, steam, the lot.

Kinda important when it comes to keeping your workplace safe. Keeping staff healthy and at full performance levels – bright, alert, going for it and enjoying their jobs.

Which doesn’t happen if they’re off sick.

And gets even worse if they insist on toughing it out and coming to work anyway. Check our calculator.

Because who can concentrate when their bodies are giving them grief? Pounding head, runny nose, twisting gut ache – just getting through the day is a challenge, let alone getting any work done.

There’s the quality of that work, too.

How good is it? How mistake-free? How on-time?

Is the customer feelgood still there, or has irritability from feeling unwell given them the brush off?

You wouldn’t hire dummies to work for you. But that’s often reality when staff try to cut it when they’re not up to it.

It’s not their fault, of course – they’re ill. They should be safely out of it, resting up and getting better.

Instead of which, they’re doing you no favours, blundering around like a loose cannon – unintentionally doing what kind of damage?

Money, money, money

Could cost a bomb, right? Thousands and thousands and thousands.

Especially if you lose a deal, or get hit for negligence, or miss out money-making opportunities.

None of which happens with a health protection system in place.

And we mean health protection, not wellness programmes. Actively intervening to stop illnesses happening – not bribing staff to perform with gym membership, medical consultations, feng sui décor and fresh fruit in reception.

And like we said, we think the health protection system we’re associated with is the best in the world.

Because it gets rid of ALL germs in the workplace. Makes the place sterile in around 40 minutes.

No germs to catch, no illnesses to come down with. Simples.

It’s easy to see why too.

The system we’re on about tackles the air as well as surfaces. And if you think about it, air is around 80% of any room space.

Yet most cleaning and disinfecting processes only focus on surfaces. Clean the floors, wipe down the walls, scrub the surfaces – that’s yer lot, mate.

Getting the real job done

Plus, to kill germs, whatever disinfectant is being used has to make minimum contact time to be effective. Not exactly achieved with a wipe-on, wipe-off rag.

And anyway, bleach needs around 30 minutes to kill germs. At full concentration too – not diluted to a weakened version because people can’t stand the smell.

Then there’s making sure the stuff gets everywhere – because that’s where the germs are. Microscopically small and light, they can float anywhere and lodge deep in cracks – untouchable with normal methods.

Ah, but the system we’re on about is not normal.

Misting up the air is not normal, but that’s how this particular health protection system works. Like germs it floats anywhere, including deep into cracks.

Because it’s forced to, is why.

First off, it works with hydrogen peroxide – the same stuff our own bodies produce to fight infection. Sprayed out as mist, it’s ionised at the last second, charging each of its particles electrostatically.

All charged with the same charge, they jostle around, trying to get away from each other. Unlike squirting an aerosol air freshener, these particles actively power themselves away in all directions. They cram up all the air space and fetch hard up against every surface, pushing to go further,

Which is how they’re forced into all cracks and crevices – exactly where germs escape from normal disinfecting.

Bye-bye germs

And those germs’ worst nightmare is just beginning, because ionising supercharges the hydrogen peroxide particles to make them more powerful. And the electrostatic charge yanks germs towards them like a magnet.

It’s a death-clutch  with no escape – the stuff takes just two minutes to oxidise germs to nothing. Cell walls ripped apart by oxygen atoms, a one-way ticket to oblivion.

Like we said – no germs, the place is sterile.

And the system does all this for around £3.40 an average-sized room . Push button easy. A few hundred a month to keep all germs at bay. Slightly better than the few thousands a month most businesses are unwittingly writing off to staff unwell at work.

They are, you know. But hopefully that doesn’t include you. Because that’s what being unwell at work does.

The usual sign is that productivity is not as good as it should be. That jobs take longer and everything is wheel-spin without knowing why. Hard to understand when you know your team are all hand-picked professionals. What’s wrong with them?

They’re not well is what – but they’re struggling to support you . Meanwhile you carry on, wondering why it’s so expensive to get anything done. Not easy when for 57.5 days a year – almost three working months – staff are not themselves for some reason or another.

So you write it all off – or more likely, assign it elsewhere – a cost of doing business. Money down the tubes, but what can you do?

Get an effective health protection system is what.

And start getting some of that money back.

Because if everybody’s happy, healthy and well, productivity is on the up.

You might even be looking to pay bonuses.