Tag Archives: productivity

Drive against germs triggers big bucks boom

Happy accountant
No germs, no sickness –
you can feel it in your bank balance

Bonuses all round.

Stock options, shares.

More money than anybody knows what to do with.

When things start going right, the sky’s the limit.

On top of the world

Which is what happens when people feel 100% healthy and on top of things.

No more pulling sickies. No more dragging yourself into work, feeling like boiled knitting.

You’re up and going, the feel-good factor kicks in –ain’t nothing gonna stop you and your colleagues taking on the world.

You wish.

Pre-winter blues

This time of year, everybody’s on the edge.

Back from holiday, still queasy from that tummy attack in the last few days. First sign of cold weather and the start of the sniffles.

You just know in your bones, it can only go downhill.

If it’s not you off ill, it’s your work-mates. Tummy or flu, whatever’s going round. And sure as hell, everybody’s going to pass them all on – especially in that bullpen office you all work in.

Yeah, you get paid sick leave – and the company has insurance. Small mercies, doing everybody’s head in.

Until some mid-level management type flips out that all these germs are doing nobody any good – and quality of life is going down the tubes. Enough already, the rot stops here.

Money, money, money

First they do the sums. Bottom line, it’s a wonder all companies aren’t broke.

Sickness cost the UK a whopping £29 BILLION in 2013 alone – a big bucks kiss of death to startups and SMEs.

That’s 131 million days lost to sickness every year – 27 million to coughs and sneezes, 15 million to worry and anxiety.

Then the penny drops.

People have computers, right? They can do their jobs better, faster – worth the investment.

BETTER, FASTER – hold that thought.

Investment in health

So where’s the investment in health and wellbeing to make them better and faster in personal performance too?

Enter, your company’s first Hypersteriliser – half the cost of the small car assigned to each sales rep. And way more significant to productivity.

Whatever germs are in the office – any viruses or bacteria lingering at the end of the day – they’re all gone in forty minutes per room. Every single treated area is totally sterile before staffers come in next morning.

OK, but that won’t clobber whatever new germs people might bring in with them from the great outside. We all carry germ-clouds around with us, wherever we go – most good, but some bad. Kinda why we have a germ problem in the first place.

But with a germ threshold starting at zero, any transferable infections should come down more than 50%, hospital tests already prove it.

50% of £27 million for coughs and sneezes is no small change. And that’s just a start

Work hygiene – phase two

Bung a tube of sanitising hand wipes on every desk – and a major cause of Workplace Acquired Infections (WAIs) is also nipped in the bud.

Discourage drinking and eating at workstations – a proper break in a relaxed area is more inspirational anyway – and the daytime germ count drops even more. Not the zero threshold the day started with, but close.

Ah, and there’s the knock-on effect.

When people feel well, they perform better – more motivated, more resilient, more ready to achieve things. Qualities all companies know are priceless.

It ripples out from there. Greater worth in engagement with customers and suppliers. Bigger reputation and standing.

Sky’s the limit

Better still, health issues are on hold up the line as well – cough, sniffle, tummyache whatever – the company heavyweights start feeling good too. Everyone’s on full song. Like, no more projects in jeopardy because the boss is sick. He’s on the plane to China with the new prototype designs six weeks early.

Feel-good inspires. Feel-good motivates. Feel-good sells. Feel-good brings big bucks.

Kinda worth it, having a go at all those germs, don’t you think?

Originally posted 2015-09-07 13:06:32.

How much do you LOSE from staff coming to work ill?

The End of It All - you win, you lose
Hope for the best, plan for the worst – staff illness at work can lose you thousands, and even the business. Photo by Andrew Amistad on Unsplash

There’s no easy way to soften this – you can lose everything.

Not at all the same as if staff are absent on sick leave – you only lose time and input for that.

Lose without realising

But sitting poorly at their desks, suffering in silence – you lose from inefficiency and poor performance. You lose from underpowered output and things getting done wrong.

They might try their hardest – determinedly taking up their place and putting in the effort.

But you still lose.

They are not themselves, the professional capabilities you hired them for are not fully deployed. So yes, they’re present and committed, and all the good things.

But you lose from under-delivery and all its knock-on effects. Which in salary terms alone costs ten  times more than if they’d stayed home.

More than machines?

Quite right, they’re not machines and shouldn’t be treated like they are.

Or maybe they should. At least if a machine is malfunctioning, it gets attention.

First it’s turned off, and put safely offline – no faulty output, product integrity is maintained. Then it gets tuned, adjusted or repaired – brought back to 100% capability.

No comebacks from poor performance or sub-standard quality. A machine only goes back online once it’s tested and verified to be working correctly.

Straight economic common sense, right? Inferior product is not an option – because letting it continue is a sure-fire way of going out of business.

But here’s Felicity with a grim smile, slightly more pale than usual – nowhere near her bubbly  self. And doubled up with stomach cramps when she thinks you’re not looking. Teeth clenched and determined to go the extra mile.

What is it, gastro? Salmonella, campylobacter or e. coli?

Does it matter? They’re all germs to be picked up on contact, or breathed in.

And Felicity’s hard at it – fingers flying over the keyboard, punching in phone numbers, paging through the same documents, and hitting the same light switches as everybody else.

Which means whatever she’s got, it’s on their fingers too. Only a matter of time and it’ll be their turn. And they’ll be like her, making the effort. Sitting at their desks, pretending nothing is wrong.

Looks OK, but isn’t

The extra mile, but why?

Ashamed to let colleagues down, saddling them with extra work? Worried about job security, that there’ll be a job to come back to if she stays away?

So she sits there, malfunctioning, even hiding it from you. Any glitches risk being unchecked and proceeding undetected.

You may never know – even when customers quit. Or when a major calamity happens, two years down the line.

All you know is, somehow you lose. So customers quit – that happens, it’s a cost of doing business. So a calamity happens – things go pear-shaped, right? Not a lot you can do about them.

Excuse us, that’s a load of codswallop.

If staff are up to speed and properly themselves all the time, glitches shouldn’t happen. After all, you hired them, and you set the rules – as good as they could be from the get-go, right?

Except they aren’t – and that’s why you lose.

And why you’re losing right now.

3 months out of every 12

Because – if you didn’t click the last link, click this one now – being unwell at work happens to all of us. 57.5 days a year, almost three working months.

Every third day or so something gives us a strange turn, the bod shows strain, and we wind up feeling less than we should.

Three working months, that’s a whole quarter. Impaired performance that you’re paying for – short change out of the nine good months a year that justify your investment. And those are just the salary issues.

How about what you lose from mistakes, missed deadlines, fumbled finger-work – or simply taking longer to do things because peoples’ brains feel like boiled knitting?

It could be thousands and thousands (here’s a calculator to check) – money you lose without realising it, because that’s the way it’s always been.

And it’s not just one person, it’s all of them. All sharing the same space, touching the same things, breathing the same air. Every one of them exposed to every other. So that any illness, any germ, transfers perpetually – round and round, infecting and re-infecting.

So that all the time, you lose.

Lose and win

Unless of course, you do something to stop the germs.

Take them out, eliminate them – make your workplace a sterile haven that can’t harm any one. No germs in the air, no germs on any surface, no germs on the fomites we all touch and share – keys, light switches, door handles, touch screens, money, every little thing.

Stop the germs and you stop standing to lose – start reaping dividends, no longer paying for unseen liabilities.

Which doesn’t cost a fortune, or anything like it.

But that’s what you COULD lose, isn’t it?

One really bad unintended mistake could cost the whole business.

Unless you lose and win.

Lose the germs, and people stop coming to work ill. They’re on full song, feeling good and going for it – and earning every penny of their salaries.

And all those losses you never knew you were making?

All gone. Now it’s money for jam.

About this blog

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

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

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

Reference links checked and working at time of posting.  However, some URLs may be taken down or re-sited later. If your link goes nowhere or you get an Error 404 message, please accept our apologies.

The virtual pay rise: without paying extra, how everyone acts like you have

Business team celebrating
Giving everybody feelgood is just like a pay rise – and you save thousands!

It’s feelgood all round. Extra enthusiasm, extra commitment, extra effort – and all on the same salary everybody’s getting now.

Your team are switched on and going for it – pushing productivity through the roof.

Too good to be true?

Actually no, it’s achievable right now – and easier than you think.

The pay rise that costs nothing

Without stretching anybody either. They’re all on the same workload, working the same hours – no slaving into the evening or taking stuff home. Doing exactly the same thing, but doing it better.

You see, it’s not MORE that they’re giving – more effort, more concentration, more input.

The difference is that you’re removing the gremlins that HOLD THEM BACK.

You read that right, HOLD THEM BACK.

Because you might think your team are giving their all – and they might too.

But reality is, they’re underperforming. Always have done.

And always will, unless you do something about it – an experience shared by every business.

You are your own example

You’re even underperforming yourself. You’re a human being, just like them, so you personally feel the same hindrances.

Humour us, and just pause a while.

How do you feel?

A bit of a sniffle because it’s winter. Head a bit stuffy in the heated office. Muscles still twingeing from the weekend’s DIY. Which means you’re not exactly 100 per, are you? You’re a bit down, but you ignore it. Put it to the back of your mind, so you can get on with things.

Full marks for commitment, but how about concentration?

That razor sharp mind that got you where you are is not as quick as it might be, is it? OK with routine, but dragging its heels on the real stuff. Straining for that competitive edge where it counts.

No, it’s not a criticism. And you’re not alone. So don’t worry, we all feel like that.

Not all the time, obviously. But often enough that our functioning is under par a lot of the time, not fully capable of giving our all.

And this might be us on a good day. On a bad one, it’s more of a struggle.

Like when that cold or flu really takes hold. Not so bad that you can’t come to work, but enough to make you seriously miserable inside.

Uh, huh.  So how good is your concentration now?

The world is not co-operating, is it? Making everything more difficult.

For instance, how much longer does it take to do things? How sure are you that you’re doing everything accurately? Bit ratty are you, with colleagues and customers – rubbing a few of them up the wrong way?

There’s a price tag to all that, and it’s impaired productivity. Not up to standard, not up- to scratch, a possible loss-maker on top of the wheelspin that impaired concentration has already caused.

Presenteeism

Presenteeism, it’s called – the downside of being unwell at work. And it happens to all of us more often than we think.

Our own perception is we’re on top of things pretty well all the time. Reality is, research has us underperforming every three days or so.

And right there is why presenteeism costs probably TEN TIMES MORE than absenteeism – £290 billion vs £29 billion. 57.5 days of lost productivity for every employee, every year – almost three working months.

Which is where we come from with a virtual pay rise.

If you could take away the gremlins that make people feel off colour every few days, they would immediately perform better. Instead of being three months short of effort for every salary, you’d get full twelve months’ ration. Productivity up a third, just by removing the hindrances.

In other words, by removing the causes that make people feel off colour in the first place.

By removing the germs that make them feel so challenged.

Take away the gremlins

Germs?

Oh yes. Like it or not, with lots of people working on top of each other, all in the same space, every workplace is riddled with them. We just don’t see them, so we don’t recognise that they’re there.

Meanwhile

Our own personal germ count is even worse, for the same reason – we can’t see germs, so never think that they are there. So gruesome as it is,

OK, so how do you get rid of germs?

That matronly voice is your mother and your mother’s mother, telling you to wash your hands. On top of which, going over your desk with antibacterial wipes is a step in the right direction.

But how about all the high touch objects that everyone shares – light switches, door handles, touch screens, keypads? Start wiping those and you’ll never get any work done, the whole day will be charring out the place.

Which is how it’s done of course, piggy-backed with regular office cleaning outside hours. And done properly, a procedure that eliminates ALL germs completely – the whole place sterile and totally safe, every morning when the team arrives for a new day.

The productivity prize

And here we go with the pay rise again.

Because what happens when there’s no germs around to make the team feel unwell?

  • They feel better, yes – so they’re better able to concentrate. To do it for longer and more incisively.
  • They’re bright-eyed and positive – more in harmony, finding it easier to do things.
  • Holding back? Most of them are quite the opposite – gung-ho and wanting to do things. They have their own careers to push , and can feel themselves doing it.

Which means a whole attitude shift. From bumbling along as normal to wanting to win and going for it.

So ask yourself, what is the quality of their work now – the level of their productivity?

And all without a pay rise – just looking out for their workplace health protection and showing your team that you care personally.

Three working months per team member that could be – in additional work capability. Effort and input you’ve never had before, but been paying for all along. Enough to bankroll a real pay rise if you’ve a mind.

Maybe you should go ahead and give it to them. They’ve earned it.

And with a real pay rise out of the blue, there’ll be nothing to HOLD THEM BACK then.

About this blog

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

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

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

Reference links checked and working at time of posting.  However, some URLs may be taken down or re-sited later. If your link goes nowhere or you get an Error 404 message, please accept our apologies.

Why corporate wellness programmes won’t save you from the flu

Exec surrounded by germs
Wellness is not the issue – start thinking illness prevention

The usual pitch for wellness programmes is to advance employee health.

That’s if you believe the glossy brochure.

Ask any bean-counter and you’ll get one of two answers.

In the US, a wellness plan is about reducing insurance costs that underwrite employee healthcare.

The UK is closer to the mark, where a wellness plan aims to slash absenteeism.

Wellness or money?

Not really health-related at all, either of them. More geared to pushing productivity.

Work harder, work longer – here’s a bribe to persuade you.

Most staff would probably prefer more money. But if the feelgood perks are dishing out, sure why not?

Just don’t expect protection from illness – that’s not on the radar.

People get sick, it happens. That’s their lookout, not their employer’s.

Besides, KEEPING well is easier to handle than illness – that’s what doctors and hospitals are for.

Which is why pretty well all wellness programmes avoid it like the plague.

  • Health risk assessments, check
  • Weight loss incentives, check
  • Screenings for blood pressure, weight, height and BMI, check
  • Fitness classes, check
  • Gym membership, check
  • Stop smoking groups, check
  • Lifestyle coaching, check
  • Flu shots, check

Wait a minute, flu shots! We’re talking rubbish, right?

Real world perspective

Well no, because against this year’s virus particularly, flu shots are only 20% effective. And we’re up against FOUR types of flu, not one – H3N2, H1N1, B/Yamagata and B/Victoria.

Plus flu is not the only bug to knock us flat on our backs.

What about norovirus, the winter vomiting bug? Or all the other gastric nasties – salmonella, campylobacter, e.coli and c.difficile? What do wellness programmes do to stop any of them?

For Pete’s sake, they even encourage them!

Ever heard of gym germs?

According to Fitness Magazine, “Gyms are hotbeds of germ activity, researchers say.” All that sweat and gasping breath. Just the place to pick up colds and flu, norovirus, staphylococcus, streptococcus, MRSA, athlete’s foot, hepatitis, take your pick.

Some wellness programme! And who’s going to believe you got sick in the gym?

Unhealthy workplace

Meanwhile, the average office isn’t much better.

There’s another thing about wellness programmes. We all get signed up, and then we have to DO something to make them work. Actually go to the gym classes – in our own time of course, lunch or after work – never office hours.

Same thing with the health checks, the smoking clinics and everything else. Busy-body employers, who do they think they are?

We’re lazy at a personal level too. Unthinking and unobservant. Which makes us our own worst enemies.

How can we get revved up about a wellness programme when we can’t even help ourselves?

Wellness, schmellness

Which means for any kind of plan to work, it has to assume we do nothing.

We arrive for the nine-to-five thing, sit there like a sack of potatoes and it all has to happen around us. Laying a guilt trip on us because two-thirds of us are fat isn’t going to crack it.

And anyway, if we DO go to the gym, it takes six months before any of that flab visibly comes off.

No, no. Any SERIOUS wellness programme just has to happen. Like in the background while we’re not looking. HEPA filters in the aircon maybe, taking out the germs – fine until the penny drops that most germs are too small to be caught.

How about the nightly cleaning brigade? Mop and buckets, plenty of bleach – problem sorted. Except the bleach stinks, so everybody has a headache – and the rub and scrub never gets to the hideaways where germs wait to grab us.

Nope, nope and nope. For a wellness programme to work, it has to prevent illness.

Which means getting rid of three things:

  • Germs
  • Stress
  • Pain

Germs are easy. Sterilise the entire place on a regular basis, so there aren’t any. No germs, no illness – sorted.

Stress is more difficult. People clam up when it’s personal – emotions and worry going round and round. Which takes listening, understanding and lots of time to get right.

Tick, tick

Except time is suddenly something you have a lot of. Because there’s no germs, people are at their desks more. They’re feeling better about it too – without the nagging off-colour complaints that ALL of us go through every three days or so.

All adding up to the 57.5 days of being at work but unwell with it – not able to concentrate properly, making mistakes and dragging our heels through the day.

Yes, time. Time to talk and reach out. To relate and demonstrate concern. To take off and sort out the circling monsters that bring work to a halt – child care, finances, relationships, bereavement, accidents and personal responsibilities. Make the stress go away and there’s more time than ever.

Which leaves pain.

Not much you can do against something this physical. Bones and muscles out of whack. Cramps, injuries, spasms.

Unless you give away time for this too.

Time for physiotherapy, massage and heat treatment. Maybe even at the office if it helps. Rescue sessions on the spot to ease the agony and up the commitment to perform. All paid for out of the time reclaimed from getting rid of stress and germs.

So wellness programmes, get real.

Start thinking illness prevention.

About this blog

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

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

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

Wow, one-third more output without buying new tech

Business on time
People assets are not like computers, their output feeds on the time you give them

It can be done. One-third more output with exactly the same resources you are using now. Same infrastructure, same people, same business plan.

You just have to get your head round how it’s done.

Change the way you think

Because the big change is attitude shift – changing the way you think about how you value your assets.

Yes, it’s the Twenty-First Century so a lot rides on technology. Every business needs IT – now should you go AI or VR?

A big investment, technology. The key to output efficiency pretty well everywhere. Which probably means you’re tight on security to protect it. And rightly paranoid about keeping performance tiptop, being fully compliant, maintaining momentum at the cutting edge of competitiveness.

Not wrong, it’s a major asset. But there’s another, even bigger.

Your people.

Without them doing the driving, all the technology in the world doesn’t amount to a row of beans. Oh sure, a lot can be done with full automation. But if you want to move forward, to duck and dive successfully ahead of everyone else, it’s your people making it happen hands on.

Yes people. A challenge to manage even with top-notch HR. Complex, changeable and often unpredictable. Yet without them, output would be zero.

OK, so ask yourself a question.

People assets are not the same

Do you look after your people assets with the same care as your technology?

If a connection goes down or a server glitches, you probably have IT on the spot within minutes, right? Hiccups in software or interrupted data flow, the experts are on it pretty well immediately.

Uh huh. And if one of your people assets goes down?

It’s only a cold, but no big deal – everybody gets them, no reason to stop working. So cough-sniffle, they stay sat their desk, office discipline and all that – keeping up the work ethic.

Yeah, right. Except if that was a computer, there’d be a replacement in there PDQ – and geeks crawling all over it to find out what went wrong. Time is money and you can’t afford to be offline.

Meanwhile, it’s not actually a cold, it’s the incubation stage of Aussie flu. But there your people asset  sits, heroic at their desk – a shining example of loyalty and commitment. Quite right too, if you gave them time off they’d only take advantage of it, right?

Maybe in Nineteenth Century salt mines.

But what makes a PERSON glitch different from an IT one? You can’t tell a computer, “take two paracetamol and call me in the morning”.

Time to be offline

Even so, working with a cold means under-performing – not fully concentrating, making mistakes, slowing output, costing money. So why isn’t the people unit booked offline? Why aren’t the geeks all over the issue to suss it out and take care of it?

Because yes, there’s a problem – and it’s a virus. And nothing scares the daylights out of IT and management more than a virus running amok in the company system.

But a people asset with a virus?

Maybe grudgingly let off work for a day or too. Though the damage is done, isn’t it? The Aussie flu is incubating in several more assets at the same time. Passed on from the original infection – as attachments to keypads, touchscreens, or simply documents hitting the in-tray. Because a person has no spam filter or scanning security to warn that anything is infected.

And so it goes – more not concentrating, more mistakes, slower output, even more money. If not Aussie flu, then something else. Because we humans might think we’re untouchable – it’s OTHER PEOPLE who catch MERS, SARS, MRSA, or non- acronym ailments like pneumonia, e.coli, salmonella, norovirus, or any one of a billion others.

Until we catch it too, but nobody gives us time.

Time changes everything

Which is where the big attitude shift comes in, giving your people assets time.

Because right now, today, every one of us succumbs to some kind of ailing condition every three days or so. A headache, a pulled muscle, a paper cut. And very frequently, something more serious. An allergy, stomach condition or emotional stress.

Again, no big deal. Except often it is, but we’re terrified about job security. So we come to work anyway – showing the flag. Not me, I’m not the weak one, I’m here for the long haul.

Take emotional stress – a third of the reasons why people assets have to go offline from work. It’s not a business issue that their kids are being bullied at school, that ma-in-law is diagnosed with cancer, or the bank has pulled the plug on the mortgage.

They sure as hell matter to the people asset though. To the point that they can’t think straight, which is why the fender-bender in the carpark. And you don’t know it yet, but the decimal point that got missed on the tender documents, so you’re committed to doing the job at a tenth of the cost – goodbye to any profits for the next five years.

Or not. Because it’s the easiest thing in the world to say, “Don’t worry, take as long as you need and sort it, we’ll keep your seat warm for when you come back.”

Giveaway downtime

Yeah downtime, giving it away.

Except you’re giving it away already though you don’t know it. And you’ve already paid for it.

Health issues at work – from sickness, mental anguish or on-going muscular conditions – affect ALL people assets for 57.5 days a year on average. Almost three working months. Three working months during which work is impaired by lesser concentrating, inevitable mistakes, and slower than ever output.

Which means people are only fully productive nine months of the year. But your expectation is for a full twelve months – and that’s what you pay for.

Excuse us, but you’ve got 57.5 days to play with that you can give away however you like.

Take three days off, and come back when you’re better.
Sure, go see the specialist, get that therapy started.
Of course, go to the funeral, family come first.
Yes, your daughter’s concert is fine – and bring me back some photos.

Give that time away and you get it back with interest. Who wouldn’t feel committed, working for you? Who wouldn’t want to go the extra mile? And who wouldn’t tell the competitor trying to poach them to go and blow bubbles?

Hail to the hero

All of a sardine you’re the hero, the one everybody wants to work for. You understand, you care, you’re a people person. You give away time because you know how people tick.

And you make time too, getting some of your own back.

Once you recognise illness at work as a challenge that can be beaten, you can stop it happening. Prevent germs in the workplace and there’s no illness for anyone to catch – or to pass on if they brought it in from outside. All it takes is nightly sterilising treatment.

OK, so you’ve clobbered the germs and defused the stress – that leaves the muscular aches and pains. Worth your while to get a massage machine and a visiting therapist. Because now you’ve solved what you’re losing 57.5 days a year for.

Looks kinda nice on the balance sheet too. Up till now you’ve been paying 12 months salary, but only getting 9 months’ worth. Now you’re gaining the best part of another 3 months worth – one-third more for the same money.

One-third more output – and all you did was change the way you think about things.

Now with the extra money you make, you can afford the technology you were looking at but didn’t dare invest in before.

Easy-peasy now though.

AND you’re ready to take on the world

About this blog

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

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

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

Unwell at work means temporarily disabled – incapable, unproductive, severely handicapped

Temporarily disabled - Unwell at work
Unwell at work, you’re temporarily disabled from doing your job properly – until you get better

Disabled is the only way to describe it.

Because, come down with the mother and father of all colds and no-one’s capable of anything.

So why hang around at work, pretending?

Head like boiled knitting, concentration shot to pieces, miserable as sin, and highly infectious.

Sounds like disabled to us.

Disabled and incapable

And that’s just for a cold. Much worse with shigella, e.coli or a staph infection. Or really serious illnesses like meningitis, bronchitis or pneumonia.

They all feel the same when they start – lousy all over, temperature, splitting head, nausea. Exactly what’s needed in a high-powered sales meeting, or a customer query on the phone.

Possibly doing more damage in ten seconds than most business calamities. A million miles away from the slick professional who usually handles the job.

So yes, every bit as disabled as anyone confined to a wheelchair.

Only worse, because at least wheelchair people know their limitations – and there’s seldom anything wrong with their brain. They’re more motivated too, more aware of critical scrutiny and any threat to job security.

But able-bodied people unwell at work are avoiding reality – for themselves as well as you. Kidding themselves that they ARE up to the mark. Everyone else is at their desk, putting in the hours, they’re not going to be found wanting.

Except by their very actions they are – dragging themselves into the office, sitting there suffering while they go through the motions. Your hottest assets, suddenly instant liabilities.

Which means – even though he was talking through his hat – the Chancellor was right in saying that disabled people impact productivity measurements. He just had the WRONG disabled people.

Three months lost, every year

And there’s plenty of evidence.

In last year’s Insight report by Global Corporate Challenge (now Virgin Pulse) – a study involving nearly 2,000 employees and validated against the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Workplace Health and Productivity Questionnaire (HPQ) – workers confessed to being unproductive on the job for 57.5 days each – almost three working months.

Woh!

So the average employee is only productive nine months of the year, not twelve. For the remaining three months they’re disabled at their desks, not delivering the skills and expertise they were hired for. Determined, but still soldiering on. Living demonstration of how productivity goes for a loop.

And what’s the price of this disabled work?

Possibly too enormous to calculate, though here’s a good try. Mistakes are not always minor and omissions not always easy to excuse. One unguarded moment by a key team member can mean absolute disaster – productivity zero, and the end of the business.

Engagement and duty of care

All of which suggests it’s time for a serious look for how management values human capital. And the realism with which Britain looks at the productivity puzzle. Future investment is one thing – but what are we doing about illnesses that RETARD three month’s worth of our productivity every year – at a cost of £319 billion?

If nothing else, flexible working is an immediate fix, achievable right now, today.

Job One for any management is duty of care to staff. Of which a top priority by law is protecting them from hazards to their health – including biological agents (bacteria and other micro-organisms)… if the exposure is incidental to the work. Official recognition that coughs and sneezes spread diseases.

So never mind what the policy or discipline issues are – if staff aren’t well, SEND THEM HOME.

Flexible working is the right of every employee, which includes working from home – a good quarantine defence for the rest of the team from the one who’s ailing. And these days, with everyone connected by laptop or tablet, does it really make a difference if they’re not at their desks anyway?

Handling illness and stress

That is of course, if the team member is capable of working – not disabled by whatever bug has triggered the issue in the first place. With most jobs needing a high degree of focus and concentration, it’s best to think in black and white. Either they’re well enough to do their job, or they’re not.

There’s no place for grey – what organisation can afford the mistakes a temporarily disabled person inevitably is going to make? Not well means not well – and they are better off out of it – grounded from work until they are better.

Flexible working in any case solves other issues that may stress staff into being disabled – easing the image of disciplinarian bosses who don’t give a damn and penalise staff for not being in attendance.

Most staff are dedicated enough, but it’s hard to show commitment when life’s daily challenges get in the way. Juggling them against the job easily causes worry which impacts productivity – disabled by stress when flexible working could solve it.

Train delays for instance, are a fact of life in the South East. It could be a strike, leaves on the line or the wrong kind of sunshine – being repeatedly late for work piles up unnecessary black marks, so easily remedied by logging in remotely on the days when they happen.

Worth their weight in gold

Likewise, time off to sort family and personal issues.

Frowned at by strict management, but worth their weight in gold to grateful staff who stress about them. Going to the doctor, confronting a child’s school about bullying, getting the car fixed, sorting out finances. Who cares if staff log on at two in the morning, as long as the work gets done on time?

Worth their weight in gold to management too – as the accounting and legal sector demonstrate. Flexible working contributes to their productivity being the highest in the country. Calculated by the ONS at an output of £68.10 per hour – more than double the national average of £32.20.

Meanwhile, how about the CAUSE of temporarily disabled staff so seriously retarding productivity?

Being unwell at work is one thing – a bug can be picked up anywhere. But with most staff working together and sharing the same space upwards of eight hours a day, becoming unwell at work is a much more likely possibility.

Sharing the same space, breathing the same air, touching the same things. And all the time exposed to each other’s germs, and the germs riding around every one of us. As out of sight and invisible as the air they float in, sound waves, ideas – and modern day intangibles like cryptocurrency.

1½ days less than the Germans

Get rid of the germs, and Britain’s productivity jumps from nine months a year to a full twelve – a thundering boost out of the blue of 33%. What other country in the world can match that achievement – not by pressing on the accelerator, but by simply releasing the brakes?

And it’s easy too. Right now, any organisation can eliminate all germs daily in as little as 40 minutes. No germs means no more infections, no more unwell at work, no more temporarily disabled staff.

Forget British workers taking an extra day to match the Germans for weekly productivity. Press the sterilising button and we’ll be finished in 1½ days LESS.

So there Klaus, stick that in your haffenpfaffenpfeife and smoke it!

About this blog

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

Boost productivity by up to a third – without investing millions

Exec pondering millions in invesment
Millions for the future – by recovering millions from the present

Yes, yes, British productivity is lagging. We have to up our game – millions for infrastructure, millions for digital technology.

Which is great, if we’ve got millions. But what if we haven’t?

What if, like a lot of businesses, things are just scraping by, productivity is down and it’s slowing everything further?

Hold that thought, slowing everything down.

Held back and handicapped

Like things are dragging, wheels locked and brakes full on.

Because that’s exactly what’s happening.

We’re all working harder and longer, going the extra mile – slaving an extra 29 days every year according to reports, with one in 10 of us working the equivalent of 15 months a year

And still our productivity trails 18 points behind other G7 nations.

How come we work more and produce less – compared with the Germans, who work less (35 hours a week average) and produce more?

It’s not like we’re stupid or lazy. Our brightest minds are world leaders, and lazy people could never stomach the hours most of us put in.

So however much we splurge on the latest bells and whistles, we might at best still find ourselves level pegging with the other G7. While the Germans motor past us, laughing all the way to the bank.

Millions and millions and millions.

Breaking the shackles

But driving things forward has never been our problem – it’s breaking the shackles that hold us back.

OK, a lot of businesses are starting to recognise this – and revising the ways they value their human capital. They’re not machines, they need looking after. Inspiration, engagement and involvement are the new watchwords – and wellbeing is the new game.

Lots of positive thinking – which is why nobody ever addresses the negative. It’s treating symptoms, not cause. Exploring remedies before isolating what ails us.

What ails us – meet the elephant in the room.

What makes us sick is seldom on anybody’s radar – including the sufferer’s. We get sick, we get sick – it happens, and most of us just accept it.

Accept and keep schtum.

Because sick is what most of us are, a lot of the time at work.

The stiff upper lip

But we don’t let on, in case it gets us fired. Replaced by somebody younger and hungrier. Or in case our colleagues feel let down. Forced into double tasking without a by your leave. Or because we’re too damned responsible for our own good and can’t relinquish the work load.

It’s the curse of presenteeism – and we’re all party to it. The British stiff upper lip.

Being unwell at work, but carrying on anyway. Slogging onwards with head pounding and guts heaving, hoping nobody will notice. Desk-pounding when we should be home in bed with antibiotics and a hot water bottle, keeping our germs away from colleagues.

57.5 days a year, we’re like that – almost three working months. Stressed out like crazy because we know we’re not performing. And shockingly ignorant that a lot of the time, we’re ill from sloppy hygiene at work.

And sloppy is being kind, most of the time it’s disgusting. Because we can’t see germs, we don’t even think of the danger, let alone trying to avoid it.

But germs can, and do, kill. Or do us permanent damage. Even the smallest infection can trigger life-threatening consequences, ten or twenty years down the line.

For hygiene, read logiene

Meanwhile, our workplace preventive measures are almost non-existent.

On the personal level, we’re even worse – as if we have a death wish:

Which is why, for nearly three months of the year, the work we’re capable of is sometimes barely competent. Everything has to be done twice, and is invariably late when it gets there. Nobody can concentrate when they’re not themselves – though we like to kid ourselves that we can.

Millions in germonomics

But look at the economics of that – or should we say, the germonomics.

Three months of the year, the team are basically out of action – at their desks yes, but really just going through the motions. Effectively that means they only work nine months of the year, not twelve. Nowhere near as productive as we’d like to think.

Now suppose with just a little investment in health protection, you could remove germs from the workplace entirely. Make the place sterile – no viruses, no bacteria, no fungi, no nothing. Yes, it can be done – and yes, the technology exists now.

Get rid of the germs and 57.5 days a year of being unwell at work melt into the distant past. Out of the blue, three extra working months become available, alongside the nine months worth of work currently – productivity up a third.

The self-funding future

Better still, it’s already paid for.

Salaries stay the same, at a full twelve months worth. Only now the business is getting its full money’s worth – three months up on the minimal nine months possible previously. The end of a three months handicap – no wonder productivity was down!

Which means unlike investing millions in a digital future, the business saves millions from the existing present. Millions, which if then invested in technology, are like setting the afterburners to warp speed.

Them Germans had better watch out – laughing all the way to the bank indeed.

Hans, was ist los?

About this blog

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

Ban lunch at your desk, rescue lost productivity

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

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

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

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

That’s right, germs.

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

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

One touch is all it takes

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

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

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

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

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

Bad bugs, waiting for you

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

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

And you want to each your lunch there?

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

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

Unwell at work, stress, not a good lunch

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

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

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

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

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

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

Germs everywhere

Until you come back.

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

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

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

Can’t win, can we?

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

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

Zero germs, zero illness

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

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

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

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

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

No worries if you forget though.

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

About this blog

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

 

Our £319 BILLION productivity ball and chain

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

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

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

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

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

£319 billion of wheelspin

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

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

And still nobody’s twigging it.

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

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

Wonky?

Oh yes.

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

We wish.

Rising costs

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

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

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

Brains not working

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

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

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

Out of order minds

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

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

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

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

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

Knock-on effect

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

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

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

But it needs an attitude shift to capitalise on it.

Stay away

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

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

Starting engagement

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

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

Time changes everything

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

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

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

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

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

About this blog

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

Boosting productivity: how to work harder by taking it easy

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

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

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

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

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

Enjoyment vs resentment

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

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

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

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

Working harder by taking it easy.

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

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

The very same who are always working those extra hours.

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

The productivity puzzle

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

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

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

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

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

Loud warning bells, right there.

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

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

Unwell-at-work syndrome

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

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

And productivity in the meantime?

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

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

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

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

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

Prevention is better than cure

Prevention is better than cure – remember that one?

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

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

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

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

From germ-free to engagement

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

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

It’s a proactive step too.

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

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

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

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

Productivity by involvement

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

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

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

On the road again

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

Smarter, right?

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

So easy does it. Smarter, friendlier, healthier.

Productivity up and on the road again.

Picture Composite: Jordon Whitfield and Neonbrand on Unsplash