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.

Originally posted on 22 January 2018 @ 4:37 pm

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

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.

Originally posted on 30 November 2017 @ 5:05 pm

Originally posted on 30 November 2017 @ 5:05 pm

Our £319 BILLION productivity ball and chain

Productivity 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.

Originally posted on 5 December 2017 @ 4:50 pm

HR’s new bankroll: hack proof staff health in the cloud – so no virus can crash your business again

Rocket penguin
Light-hearted escaping with the cloud – a cloud of hydrogen peroxide that is, the one that knocks out viruses and bacteria to keep workplaces healthy and safe

How much of a bankroll?

We’re talking thousands, maybe even tens of thousands.

It’s HR’s unexpected contribution to the bottom line. Maximising staff productivity up to a third more than you’re getting now – all on the same salary budget.

Easy-peasy too – by putting staff health in the cloud. An overnight bankroll from sickness costs.

Er, but it’s not the kind of cloud you might expect. Or the kind of virus.

Serious cloud, serious virus

This cloud is hydrogen peroxide, our own body’s natural killer of germs – rolling in all-penetrating mist through your workspace. Ionised so it reaches everywhere and grabbing with its electrostatic charge.

And the virus is biological – far more treacherous than any browser hacker or Trojan. One outbreak of norovirus could have your whole staff writhing with cramps for days. Spewing their guts out with projectile vomit- or ripping them apart with hell-fire diarrhoea.

Bacteria, viruses, fungi, mould – they none of them stand a chance.

The hydrogen peroxide oxidises them – destroying their cell structure. In a just a few minutes, your whole place is sterile.

Hmm, sterile – all germs knocked out, dead. No chance for anyone to catch a bug or infection, the workspace is safe.

Which means no-one going off sick from illness caught at work. No sick pay, no replacement staff costs – everyone’s at their desk working.

No unwell at work costs either. The price you pay for underpowered staff trying to do their jobs while they’re feeling like death. Taking ten times longer, making mistakes, snapping at customers, jeopardising business through sheer lack of concentration.

Computer crashes, fixable – staff crashes, hospital

That’s where the thousands come in. Not so much the absences, more the soldiering on against all odds – and inevitably making a hash of it. Ten times more than ordinary sick costs if you add it up. Thousands and thousands – and tens of thousands.

All that expenditure – and it happens to every organisation and every employee, everywhere. Drip, drip, more and more unfulfilled salary resource, unstoppably down the drain, every day.

Except now HR can snatch it back – a bankroll present to you of one-third more staff productivity. More effort, more input, for the same money you’re already paying – because now your staff capabilities are fully realised.

Because your most valuable assets are properly protected. Shielded from every kind of bug – common colds and flu, respiratory infections, tummy upsets and various kinds of gastroenteritis. And the serious illnesses too – legionella, TB, or even worse.

Over to you

You provide the daily sterilising – piggy-backed with regular cleaning perhaps, or from your own Hypersteriliser machine (a press-button automatic jobbie that does the place in minutes).

Your staff just get on with the job. Unhackable by bacteria or viruses.

A productivity bankroll out of the blue – just by being in the cloud.

Picture Copyright: lightwise / 123RF Stock Photo

Better health, better productivity, better profits – and you’re still dragging heels over daily germ protection?

Thinking exec
Decisions, decisions – not hard when you think of the money getting rid of germs can make

Going to wait till a headache and scratchy throat slow your own productivity?

Or dump the whole idea because you’ve never done it before, so why start now?

Besides, since you’ve already actioned generous sick pay, what do germs have to do with it?

Let’s go back to your headache.

Like, how’s your business brain functioning with all that pounding? Difficult to concentrate when your mind’s like boiled knitting – but the job’s time-sensitive, so you’ve got to decide now.

Uh huh. And how good is the quality of that decision? How good is the quality of anything if you’re unwell at work? You’re not yourself, your reflexes are shot, you’re loose cannon more than asset. How long before you do some real damage?

Unwell at work costs money

Extreme thinking maybe, but you can see it happening.

Unwell at work is way more hazardous than booking off sick – and happens ten times more often. 57.5 days a year on average – and that’s per staff member. Nearly THREE WORKING MONTHS.

You’re paying twelve month salaries – but against 57.5 days of unwell at work, staff can only deliver nine. The rest of the time they’re at their desks,  battling to go through the motions. 50% productivity or less – how much business sense is that?

OK, maybe their illness came from outside, but why take chances?

Sitting there, they’re going to spread it around – coughs, sneezes, or simply handling the same documents. Pretty soon the whole place will come down with the same thing. A couple of the weaker ones off sick maybe, but most of them heroes, soldiering on.

Inevitable really, with professionally revved-up people working close together, sharing the same office space, breathing the same air. All concentrated nicely where germs can find the most victims and spread most effectively.

But at what cost in mistakes, lost business, slipped quality standards or missed deadlines?

Invisible losses – all unnecessary

All of which you’re paying for – so heroes they might be, they might as well not be there. At a cost of ten times your absenteeism allowance, however generous. Plus money down the tubes from unwanted screw-ups.

And all largely preventable – just by getting rid of the germs.

All of them in your workplace – viruses, bacteria, fungi, mould, the lot – 99.9999% of them, oxidised to nothing.  Gone completely – from all surfaces, the walls, the floor, the ceiling – the air itself.

Taken out everywhere by omni-dispersing hydrogen peroxide mist – the same stuff our own bodies produce to fight infection.

Sure, there’ll still be staff who bring in their own. Bugs picked up from dropping the kids at school, collywobbles from touching the grab handles on the tube.

But in their place of work, when they come in every morning, the whole place is sterile. A germ-free zero threshold where they’re safe and secure.

Safe from the minor illnesses that slow them down and impair their judgement.

And safe from more serious bugs, like SARS or legionnaire’s disease – both notifiable diseases and your legal duty to protect them against.  With heavy fines or even prison awaiting if you don’t.

Feel-good dividend

Plus there’s the upside.

With no germs to slow them down, staff can now turn in a full year’s productivity instead of nine months – up by a third at no extra cost to you, it’s already part of their pay packets.

On top of which is the feel-good factor – the tidal wave of get-up-and-go that happens when close colleagues all vibe well together – healthy, positive and wanting to achieve.

A few hundred quid on your regular cleaning bill – and you’ve not just rescued productivity, you’ve shot it into orbit. In efficiency alone you’re ahead of the game – and how good is that going to look on your balance sheet?

So – germ protection, yeah? Keeping your staff healthy. Your legal duty and serious business sense.

Are you going to sit around thinking some more, or grab yourself some profits?

Picture Copyright: lighthunter / 123RF Stock Photo

Get a third more from your staff without paying any extra – and they’ll love you for it

Counting the pennies
It’s money you’ve already spent – but you get it back with interest. Full staff effort 100% of the time, everybody motivated and going for it

Good staff, are they? All solid professionals.

Worth every penny that you pay them.

If only you were  getting full value.

You’re not, you know. And here’s why.

You’ve allowed for holidays, right? And probably around six days sick leave.

Yes, that’s about a month off, because you’re understanding and reasonable – part of the cost of doing business.

But you’ve left out the rest.

Those days when they’re not feeling all that hot. Scratchy throat maybe – a headache and a sniffle. Or a churning gut ache that has them running to the loo.

The unwell-at-work overhead

Yes, but they’re pros. Committed and going for it.

So they force themselves to work, come what may. Clenched teeth and popping paracetamol – but at their desks and determined. A compliment to your motivational skills.

Better ask yourself though, how productive they are, feeling like that. Up to speed, yes. But struggling to keep going – battling to keep focus, cross-eyed following detail.

Sure you recognise the symptoms – you’ve been there yourself. You’re at work, but not really – underpowered and you know it, going through the motions.

Presenteeism, it’s called. Being unwell at work. Like absenteeism, but way more common. Up to 57.5 days a year, according to a GCC study validated by the World Health Organization. Almost ten times more than days off sick, nearly three working months.

And that’s the average.

Bottom line on salaries – you’re paying for twelve months on every staff member. But in actual productivity, you’re only getting nine.

Sloppy work costs money

That’s not all you’re paying for either.

There’s the quality of work and the consequences of not being fully alert. Mistakes get made when staff aren’t on the ball. Deadlines get missed, customers get second best, service standards slip – the costs can be ginormous.

You can’t penalise your staff though. Being unwell is a fact of life. It’s not their fault. Or yours either.

Actually, without pussy-footing around, probably both of you are to blame.

All you have to ask is, why? Why are staff unwell at work?

For staff members, ten-to-one it’s a lapse of hygiene. Most if not all minor illnesses are caused by dirty hands – or transmitted to hands in a dirty environment. Trouble is, since germs are so small they’re invisible, our hands don’t LOOK dirty, even when they are.

Which kind of explains why:

It also underlines the harsh reality – that most minor illnesses, colds, flu, tummy bugs, etc – are all self-inflicted.

Better hygiene, or lose money

OK, you can’t force staff into better habits. But put bottles of antibacterial gel or handy wipes on every desk where they can’t miss them, and the problem should reduce big time.

That’s not all though, because it’s you who provides the workplace. Part of your duty of care is to ensure staff are safe when they’re in there. From germs – as well as hot and cold, dark conditions and pelting rain.

It is the law, for instance, to protect staff from legionnaire’s disease – just one kind of bacteria out of the billions we are exposed to every day. Neglect this, and you could be heavily fined, possibly even go to prison.

And there’s plenty of other germs that are just as inconvenient or deadly.

Salmonella, norovirus, campylobacter or e.coli are all stomach bugs easily picked up off light switches, door handles, keyboards or touch screens. Catch one of them in your workplace and your entire staff could be down for days.

There’s also the air that staff breathe – 80% of the space within the workplace that never gets cleaned – most cleaning services just don’t have the capability. Yet workplace air is how bugs like colds and flu transfer – not forgetting legionnaire’s disease.

And there’s always germs to pick up. Our own body cells are outnumbered by colonised bacteria more than ten times over – and every one of us trails our own “signature” cloud of germs around with us.

All change, all win

Get rid of the germs and the whole ballgame changes.

If staff aren’t exposed to germs, they can’t get sick. They don’t take days off – and they don’t drag themselves into work unwell, fumbling through their jobs and infecting their colleagues. At a stroke, those 57.5 days of presenteeism – almost three working months – no longer happen.

You get 100% of your staff, 100% of the time – a whole third up on the 75% of the time you get now.

So how’s it done?

Quite simply, by sterilising the place. Oxidising all germs to oblivion so they’re harmless. All bacteria, all viruses, all fungi, all moulds – gone.

Your own cleaning service can do it, on top of their usual schedule after staff have gone home.  Simply mist the place up with hydrogen peroxide and the deed is done. No germs anywhere, your staff are safe.

And safe means secure. Staff feel confident. They’re healthy and well, full of energy and go. They WANT to do things, to achieve, to excel. Like endorphins kicking in after a session at the gym, they respond to the feel-good of being up and ready for anything.

They love their job, they love their colleagues, they love you.

Double or quits

So it’s your choice.

Stay as you are now and hope your staff keep healthy. Or make sure there’s no doubt of it and win yourself a third more productivity with your existing resources – absolutely free.

More productivity, minimal cost and everybody motivated.

Makes you think how all that drive and commitment would look on your balance sheet, hey?

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Productivity boost: our £290 billon antidote for presenteeism

Chasing profits
£290 billion – the cost to UK of being unwell at work. Make that go away and you’re chasing big bucks

It’s ours, and it’s right in front of us. A whole £290 billion worth.

Unwell at work costs out the door. Everybody up and going flat out. About as efficient as it’s ever going to get. Every penny of everyone’s salary working for you.

Not actually the end of presenteeism – that dicey compulsion to be at work instead of staying sick in bed. More like a sidestep – an effective way to avoid it.

Germ avoidance – Workplace Hygiene 101

Antidote, yes.

Because you can’t be unwell at work if you don’t get sick in the first place.

Yeah, right. So where does the £290 billion come in? If that’s the kind of money we’re saving, how come every business in the country isn’t bankrupt already?

Because all the time, they’re absorbing that cost. The invisible overhead disguised as part of salary appropriations. Like absentee costs but worse – the sick costs which business experts PwC calculate at £29 million a year.

The CIPD spell it out further – reckoning on a median cost for absence due to sickness of £522 per employee over 6 days per year – depending on the activity sector. Basically £87 per staff member per  day.

Ah, but absenteeism is a small fraction.

Unwell at work – the biggest money drain

The real overhead is in presenteeism – paying out for all those days that staff underperform by coming to work unwell. Ten times more according to a GCC study validated by the World Health Organization. A staggering 57.5 days a year – almost three working months.

OK, so ten times £29 billion is £290 billion – the cost to the nation of all those days struggling through the work day at half-power. The all-up sickness cost is even more if you add absenteeism – £319 billion. But with this kind of saving to make, who’s counting?

So now we have your attention with these megabuck figures, what’s the big breakthrough solution?

Like we said, avoidance. Protecting staff from becoming ill in the first place. An antidote.

Up front we have to say that nothing can be done outside business. People will pick up bugs wherever their lives take them and there’s not a lot we can do about it out there.

Indoor health protection

It’s a different story at work. Because it’s indoors, the whole environment is enclosed. A double-edged sword if you think about it. Staff all share the same space, breathe the same air. If any one of them goes down with something – they all can.

But you don’t let them.

Every night when the cleaning crew come in, you add a new element to the schedule.

Sterilising.

On top of cleaning desks, emptying bins and vacuuming, the whole place is rendered germ-free. Viruses, bacteria, mould and fungi eliminated by oxidising with hydrogen peroxide.

Next morning, when staff come in, the workplace is safe and sterile. No germs to catch or pass around. No chance to fall ill. Part of your duty of care – like making sure they’re warm and dry, with proper ventilation, and light to work by.

Required by law

Part of your legal commitment too, if you consider legionnaire’s disease – just one bacteria out of billions, but a potentially lethal one. As an employer, you are responsible for protecting staff from this nasty under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 – which makes you liable should any of them fall ill.

You can relax though. As a bacteria, airborne legionnaire’s disease is destroyed just as thoroughly as all others. To a 6-Log Sterility Assurance Level – 99.9999% of all germs obliterated. The antidote in action.

Your staff might still fall ill – but not at work. With the germ threshold reduced to zero every night, there’s not much chance to. Nor will they sit there battling with ailments =- aches and pains and tummy cramps and stuff. They’re back to being 100%, pretty well all of the time.

Laughing all the way…

57.5 days of under-powered output that will save you – almost three working months. Which if we’ve done our sums right restores a third more productivity out of nowhere, all on the same salary.

Not bad for an antidote, hey?

Now what will you do with your share of £290 billion?

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How your cleaning service can boost your bottom line

Upward sales
When there’s no germs around, there’s no holding back – everything is get-up-and-go, right down to your bottom line

Who can’t do with a bottom line boost?

Especially at minimal cost.

F’rinstance, what are you spending on cleaning right now? A few hundred? A couple of thousand?

It’s still low on the overheads list, right? Somewhere between the stationery budget (does anyone still use paper these days?) and tea and biscuits for the kitchen.

A necessary expense though. Who wants to live with grimy desks or overflowing waste bins? Not exactly inspiring, is it?

More than the necessary

So every night, your regular hit team comes in and blitzes the place. Quick whizz round with the vacuum cleaner, wipe down all the surfaces, empty the bins, and gone. Commercial charring.

And we’re suggesting these folks can boost your bottom line?

Too right.

Because even if you doubled their fee, you probably wouldn’t feel it.

But then instead of a lick and a promise, they could do you a REAL service. Tidy the place up and…

Get rid of germs.

Hang on a minute, get rid of germs?

What for?

It’s not as if the place is infested or anything. Nobody’s dead or dying. Nobody’s sick either. Everyone’s at their desks, getting on with it.

Quality of interest, quality of work

OK, so how’s their motivation?

Responding well to working in clean, pleasant surroundings, are they?

Amazing what feel-good does for morale and productivity. Which is why so much is spent on ambiance and décor. Nice colour scheme, good lighting, comfortable furniture. All good, right?

All contribute to the bottom line.

So does getting rid of germs.

Of course, by reducing sickness absences. By reducing sickness at work as well.

We’ve all been there. Feeling a bit ropey, not really ourselves – but not sick enough to justify calling it in and taking time off.

Presenteeism, it’s called. The not so pleasant reality of being unwell at work. Definitely off colour, but coming in to work anyway. Feeling like death but getting on with it anyway – as far as anyone can through clenched teeth.

57.5 days a year we’re like that, most of us. Never a day off, but plenty of days less than good. Almost three working months of underpowered pushing and not really getting anywhere.

Motivation shot, productivity down the tubes. All anyone wants to do is crawl home, gulp the tablets and shut the world out.

The difference between clean and safe

So yes, get rid of germs.

It’s them that causing us to feel miserable – the source of our sniffles, aches and tummy twinges.

Maybe we picked them up at work, maybe we didn’t.

Though with so many of us working on top of each other, we’re certainly passing them around. Infectious, catching. No feel-good when we feel bad. No feel anything except lousy – a sure kill-all for productivity.

Rubbish for the bottom line too. Because feeling lousy cannot produce good work. With low quality work and commitment through the floorboards, it actually costs the business plenty.

Ooh! Who cares, as long as five o’clock rolls round as quickly as possible?

Problem? Solution!

Aha! But wave the magic wand and the problem goes away.

Stop feeling unwell and people get their mojo back. They WANT to do stuff, feel like going places and getting somewhere. Even breaking records and grabbing the lead.

All possible when there’s no germs around to slow anybody down.

So get your cleaning company to make sure there aren’t any. They’re already getting rid of the dirt, let them get rid of the germs as well. Pay them the extra, and breathe more life into that bottom line.

No, no, not rubbing and scrubbing and bleach. Too labour-intensive, takes hours, costs a bomb, and leaves the place stinking of bleach.

Better to use hydrogen peroxide with one of those Hypersteriliser thingies. Oxidise germs to nothing in forty minutes flat, just by pressing a button. No viruses, no bacteria, no fungi, no mould. No bugs to catch, or smells either, the whole place is sterile.

Productivity plus

OK, so what does that do to staff morale?

The place where they work is cleaned every night – AND all germs removed.

Which shows exactly how much does the management care or what. Way more effectively than feng shui surroundings, gym membership, fruit at reception, or Elton John playing in the corridors.

All of which cost more than cleaning or tea and biscuits – that bottom line again.

But look at the plusses. No more absenteeism costs, presenteeism costs, or lapses of concentration costs. No more productivity losses either.

Your crew are up for anything, gung-ho and feeling good, ready to conquer the world.  Up to speed enough to turn your bottom line on its head.

Not bad for a lowly cleaning service, hey?

Go on, pay them the extra. You’ll get it back with interest and then some.

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Stop workplace germs – and buy a whole new NHS (twice over)

Twin doctors
Double value. More time, more beds, better treatment – make workplace germs go away and NHS problems go away too

Relax, stop worrying. We really can have a whole new NHS twice over – just by eliminating workplace germs.

Big numbers?

Sure.

Which just shows you how much money leaks away when germs get the upper hand.

Get ready for some jaw-dropping math.

According to the NHS’s own figures, planned expenditure for 2016/17 is £120.611bn.  On top of which is the current deficit – a whopping £2.45 billion.

Black hole, about to go away

Put the two together, and you get £123.061 billion.

Double it, and that comes to £246.122 billion.

OK, so putting the NHS to one side for a moment, how about this?

The fact that being sick off work costs British employers a monumental £29 billion, according to business experts PWC.

And even worse, that “presenteeism” – when people are unwell but come to work anyway – costs TEN TIMES that – a mind-boggling £290 billion.

More than double present NHS bankroll needs – with around £44 billion in change – about what British businesses pay in corporation tax.

Uh huh.

Reaching for the impossible

So what kind of magic wand would it take to disappear Britain’s combined off sick and unwell at work costs? Impossible, right?

Not exactly.

Sure, it’s not just germs that make people take off sick – or struggle through the working day. There’s musculoskeletal problems, like back pain and neck ache. Stress, depression and mental anguish. All medical, but not germ-related.

But around 85% of us agree that the major cause of working life grief is minor ailments. Colds, flu, tummy bugs, that sort of thing.

And 85% of £290 billion is..?

You guessed it, £246 billion. The cost of launching a whole new NHS twice over – all caused by germs.

Which says, stop the germs – and we stop £246 billion every year going down the plughole.

Basically impossible, right?

WRONG!

All hyped up, safe and secure

By misting up workplaces daily with ionised hydrogen peroxide after staff have gone home – all viruses and bacteria are eliminated, oxidised to nothing.

Next morning, when staff come in, the whole place is sterile. To a Log-6 Sterility Assurance Level – 99.9999% germs gone.

Yeah OK, people bring in fresh germs with them. On their skin and clothing, from whatever they might have wrong with them – and their own personal germ cloud.

But the germ threshold is zero at start the day, so any cross-contamination is minimised. Fewer germs to catch, less chance of feeling off colour – productivity nudges closer to 100%.

Press button easy

And the miracle machine that does all this?

It’s not a miracle at all, it’s a Hypersteriliser. A wheelie-bin sized automatic unit that ensures maximum dispersal of safe, low concentration, germ-killing hydrogen peroxide – the same stuff our own bodies produce to fight infection.

And it spreads across all surfaces and behind them, into all cracks and crevices, and throughout all airspace. Actively forced there by electrostatic charge.

Contact time for destroying germs is only seconds, though dispersal does take time, depending on room size. Forty minutes usually, and you’re done. The whole place is sterile.

Clawing money back from germs

Which neatly plugs productivity losses caused by absenteeism and presenteeism together. Effectively releasing one-third more work capability without extra cost.

The trick now of course is to persuade employers to donate all this money to the NHS.

They can certainly afford it.

And with sick leave absences down by 85%, the demands on the system will be so much less too. Shorter waiting times in A&E. More beds available. Adequate time for intricate surgery. Generous time for recovery under care.

So if a staff member does go down with something, they’ll be treated quicker and back sooner.  And that goes for all the other ailments too. The musculoskeletal jobbies and that lot. Because we’re all of us susceptible.

Including that heavyweight MD with the bad back that puts her out of action three days in ten. There’s a whole new NHS waiting ready to look after her. In fact, two for the price of one.

And hello, hello, the doctor WILL see her now.

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Yours now: the sky-high profits of germ dodging

Rick exec
With everyone closer to full strength 100% of the time, you’re laughing all the way to the bank

Yes, profits.

Big money gains.

Though strictly it’s clawing back money you’ve already spent.

More accurately, winning back proper value for it – instead of the zero you get now.

Money lost to germs – which affects every business. Every organisation come to that. Everywhere that people work together – exposed to communal ailments and frequently insecure environments.

It’s the germs that make them insecure. Microscopically small and out of sight, so you never think they’re there.

Take a look at the number of staff with coughs and sniffles though. Or the ones holding their tummies when they think you’re not looking.

The scourge of presenteeism

Get the picture?

They’re your walking wounded. The ones who feel like death from some bug or infection. But drag themselves into work anyway. Stressed about work load, or letting down their colleagues, or even if their job is safe if they don’t pitch up.

Yes, they should be home on sick leave. But they’re tougher than that.

So they’re at their desks, going through the motions. Risking their colleagues to the same bugs they have. Working at half power or worse. Making mistakes. Missing out on detail. Ratty with suppliers. Grumpy with customers. More liability than asset.

We’ve all been there. Not absent from work, but present and struggling. Well-intentioned but causing grief for ourselves and everyone we work with. It’s the scourge of presenteeism.

57.5 days a year we’re like that, according to research. Ten times the number of sick days we actually do take off. Nearly three working months.

All at full salary – but nothing like full value.

Never thought of it like that? That you’re paying for all those days but not getting them?

Getting your own back

Suppose you could get them back? Claw back their value?

Because right now, you’re only getting nine months’ worth for every twelve you pay salaries for.

Reclaim that lot – or at least a large chunk of it – and you could increase productivity by a third. One third up on where you are now. And absolutely free, because you’ve already paid for it.

Worth a bob or two, no?

One third of your all-up salary allocation. Up there in the thousands, if not hundreds of thousands. As you can see for yourself on our cost of workplace illness calculator.

OK, so how does it work? Is it actually possible to reduce workplace germs  so you see an improvement in profits?

Winning the germ war

A small wheelie-bin sized Hypersteriliser machine will do it. Eradicate ALL germs in your workplace after everyone’s gone home. Present completely sterile surroundings for them to step into in the morning.

It works by misting the place up with the mildest solution of ionised hydrogen peroxide. The same stuff our own bodies produce to prevent infection through open wounds and cuts.

The ionising spreads it everywhere – across all surfaces, into all cracks and crevices. And because it’s airborne – throughout the whole room space, which normally never gets touched. 80% of the germ-load, right there.

Viruses and bacteria don’t stand a chance. The electrostatically charged hydrogen peroxide grabs at them like a magnet, oxidising them to oblivion. Oxygen atoms rip their cell structure apart. No way any of them are coming back.

No germs, no chance for staff to get sick. At least not from the workplace – which as the media continually remind us, can be full of more germs than a toilet.

Safe inside

It won’t protect against germs from outside either of course. The ones lurking on the escalator handrail, or exploding over everyone in a sneeze on the Central Line. Outside there’s germs everywhere – on lift buttons, touchscreens, keys, light switches, money.

But at least inside, your people are safe. Where the germ threshold is zero, except for what they bring in on their skin and clothing. Or what they try to hide behind their handkerchiefs.

Unfortunately though, you can’t help everyone. Like the ones with injuries, or muscular problems, or lingering non-infecting conditions like IBS. Though germ dodging will surely help their already challenged immune systems.

The profit margin

So is it worth doing?

If you haven’t already tried the calculator, get it from the experts. According to top business consultants PWC, the cost of absenteeism in the UK is around £29 billion annually.

With presenteeism running at ten times that, that’s a bill to British businesses of £290 billion. So even if you only recover half that, you’re ahead by several thousand.

Maybe enough to consider bonuses, or maybe bankrolling those projects you’ve never had cash for, until now.

Plus there’s the feel-good factor – the elusive motivator that all those workplace wellness programmes try so hard to offer. Productivity plus-plus.

Sure, it’s nice to have gym membership, company flu jabs, feng shui inspired lighting and fresh apples in reception. But nothing works better than knowing the body is good and healthy, full of positive vibes, committed and eager.  Feeling like a super-performer and wanting to go for it.

You see what we mean by profits?

Everybody gains, everybody wins, everybody feels good – what germ dodging does.

Which means the sky’s the limit.

*Credit where it’s due. This is not the first time we’ve made mention of it, so we do need to express our big thanks. As always, we’re grateful to business experts PWC, whose insightful absenteeism figures are the whole reason our modest little venture can exist.

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