Tag Archives: productivity

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

Britain’s productivity illness: prevention, not cure

Doctors with pound sign
Productivity illness: prevention, not cure. It’s worth a fortune

Looming larger than ever with the impending Budget and Brexit, Britain’s productivity illness is not going away soon.

Or is it?

It is significant that our present productivity handicap is referred to as an illness – and in the same breath something to accelerate out of, usually by throwing  money at it.

Prevent illness, or make super-well?

Quite how to accelerate with an illness is not explained. Even top performers like Jessica Ennis–Hill are unlikely to surge ahead in the grip of a common cold or flu.

But illness is right, and in a word explains what is wrong with our productivity.

It’s less than it should be.

Not surprising when you consider our track record of workplace performance. Three years ago, business experts PwC calculated the national cost of absences due to illness at £29 billion a year. A figure that assumed an average of 6 days off sick for every earner in the country.

Not chicken feed.

But it pales into insignificance alongside the cost of presenteeism or being unwell at work – calculated in a GCC report (now Virgin Pulse) at 10 times absenteeism or £290 billion.

Together that’s £319 billion, substantially more than any of the figures  promised by government to boost R&D of super-performers in the high-tech/AI sector – side-stepping and ignoring also-rans like retail and hospitality.

£319 billion on illness. Isn’t it worth doing something about fixing that – instead of chasing pie in the sky dreams?

Sloppy hygiene

Mind you, it’s not surprising that such illness is associated with work. Look around, and our workplace standards of protection against germs are truly frightening.

Small wonder that on average we’re each of us feeling less than ourselves at work for 57.5 days a year, or nearly three working months. Or closer to home, we all have some kind of ailment giving us grief roughly every three days.

We never think about it of course, because we can’t see germs – too microscopically small. We just accept that not being well is par for the course – and business does too. As Churchill, or was it Teddy Roosevelt (?) said, “Most of the world’s work is done by people who don’t feel very well.”

And yes, they’re ill all right. Because we can’t see germs, we don’t think we’re dirty. And alongside sloppy hygiene in the workplace, our personal standards are even worse.

All of which means we’re sitting at our desks waiting for illness to happen.

Sub-standard capability

And what is the quality of work we’re capable of, feeling like that?

Some bug we picked up at the office does our head in so we’re not able to concentrate. Which means it’s done wrong and has to be done again. Or done wrong and not picked up, to let the fox loose among the chickens later on down the line.

Three working months we’re out of it.

Which means for every twelve months we get paid, we’re only delivering nine.

That’s productivity illness all right. And why retail and hospitality bear the brunt. Higher exposure to other people, more physical interchange and contact with commonly touched objects. More germs.

So here’s the thing.

Get rid of the germs and our productivity illness goes away. It might still be less than it should – but at least it won’t be held back. And three months of our salaries won’t be going to waste paying for us to be out of it.

Better still, get rid of the germs before we’re exposed to them.

Prevention, not cure.

And more easily achievable than we might ever imagine.

For starters, what health protection if any is in most workplaces right now?

You’re right, it’s zero.

A nightly hit teams comes in and vacuums the floors, empties the rubbish bins and wipes down the desks with a damp rag. And that’s your lot!

Now look down the back of your computer or under the keyboard. Hold your phone up to the light and look at the touchscreen.

Dust bunnies and crumbs. Smears and finger marks. Leftover detritus from chicken tikka marsala, birthday cake, biscuit crumbs and dirt off laptops picked up off the floor in the Underground. And all of it untouched since your organisation moved into the building five years ago.

Poor productivity: the antidote

So how to fix it?

Start off with putting antibacterial wipes or gel on every desk first thing in the morning. Not so easy to forget washing hands when there’s an alternative right in your face.

Next, fumigate the place.

Well, not quite as drastic as that – and a lot safer. Actually to sterilise the place, mist it up with a mild but effective germ-killing biocide that spreads everywhere – through the air, across every surface, into every nook and cranny, you name it.

Result, no germs – no illnesses for anyone to catch. No more underperforming feeling like death.

Twelve months’ productivity instead of nine – UP BY A THIRD.

Do that every day and productivity illness becomes a thing of the past.

Better than G7 countries

So things take one day longer each week to do in Britain than in other G7 countries?

Not any more.

Up by a third means six days are now four. One day LESS to do in Britain than in other G7 countries.

How about it, all you business eggheads?

Up for a little prevention not cure?

Come on people, there’s £319 billion in it for you.

Turn productivity around for just £30 a day

£30 man with calculator
£30 a day to save you thousands – can you afford not to consider it?

Don’t believe all the City doom and gloom, it’s a lot easier to turn productivity around than you think.

Oh sure, UK productivity lags behind the major economies.

But there’s a reason for our stunted performance – a penalty we all pay without realising it.

Because it’s not  that we’re less productive. More that we’re not actually productive ALL  of the time. Far from it.

In fact, without our knowledge, something is holding us back for almost three working months every year. 57.5 days on average.

The price we pay in lost productivity by coming to work unwell.

And right there is the shortfall.

Lowest productivity in Europe

For every 12 months of salary paid out, the best we Brits can deliver most of the time is only 9 months worth of work at full capability.

In the missing 3 months we’re gobbling down tablets to ease crippling back ache or muscle pain. Trying to ignore the near-fever of flu or norovirus that turns our guts to jelly and our minds to boiled knitting. Or grappling with monsters of worry or dread, sometimes bursting into tears with the stress of it all – men as well as women.

“Presenteeism” the HR people call it. When we’re smitten  with unwellness that saps our skills and ability to think – but no so bad that we have to take time off for it.

Or perhaps we’re so worried about job security, we come to work anyway. Not wanting to get fired, feeling like death, with a dread of being found wanting.

Three months of the year, we’re like that.

Every one of us, the top brass too.

At work and battling with some kind of physical or mental issue every three days or so.

Think of how an ordinary cold drags on for days and weeks. Hardly worth pulling a sickie, but slowing us down in ways that could unknowingly hurt our job. Like staying fully focused when attention to detail is critical – reviewing figures for a bid, or brainstorming a new strategy – and then getting them wrong.

Same thing with mental challenges – a death in the family or worrying about finances. We’re not actually ill, but emotional and psychological pressures can drive us into it. Giving ourselves ulcers is all too familiar – so is the lost feeling at the edge of a breakdown.

Because we’re not machines, we’re human. Our lives go up and down – happy times, tragedies, unexpected illnesses, accidents – and just to be at our desks can be an effort, let alone deliver 100%.

Which is why  on balance, most of us are only capable of 75%.

Low productivity: the antidote

So how do we turn it around?

Not by grabbing for the latest business must-have. Even with the latest technology, our own performance would still be less than we’d like. 75% of the advanced version is still only 75%.

Better deal with the issues  that stunted us in the first place. If we really want to turn productivity around, delivering 100% of ourselves has got to be the goal.

Start with the quick fix, clobbering whatever it is that make us ill.

Germs, of course – a no-brainer.

We can’t see germs, they’re too microscopically small. So we don’t even think of them.

Reality is that they’re around us all the time, we’re even half bacteria ourselves. On top of which, every one of us carries our own personal germ cloud floating in the air around us – our own bio-signature, as unique as a fingerprint or retina scan.

And, wait for it.

Unhealthy = unproductive

Nowhere is probably more laden with germs than our own workplace.

Just lift your keyboard and look underneath. All those dust bunnies and detritus are the things we CAN see – so just imagine the germs that we can’t.

A few gruesome facts:

It gets worse, a legacy of the fact that we can’t see germs, so our personal hygiene gets really scary:

You get the picture. No matter how clean and tidy your workplace might be, chances are inevitable it’s crawling with germs. An increasing aggregate of germs too. If the place has never been treated, it’s likely bacteria, viruses and fungi  have been breeding there since the year dot.

An investment in efficiency

This is where the £30 comes in. The business end of how you turn productivity around. And probably not much more than you’re already paying for your daily cleaning service.

That’s all it takes to get yourself a whole health protection system to eliminate all germs. And you read that right – ALL GERMS.

Cutting to the chase, your £30 a day buys you the whole kit and caboodle to do it. Germ-killing biocide, dispersing machine, accessories, training to use it, finance to acquire it – and the only insurance policy of its kind in the world to cover your use of it.

You put the machine into action every night when your team are gone. When it releases an ultra fine mist of ionised hydrogen peroxide that reaches everywhere and oxidises all germs to oblivion. To a 6-Log Sterility Assurance Level.

OK, so you can’t protect your team from picking up germs outside.

But in the workplace – the space they all share, work in, move around in, breathe in and generate money in – the entire surroundings are sterile. No germs to catch, no illness to succumb to, no under-performing at 75%. Your team feel healthy and good with it, the first step to turn productivity around.

So what has it brought you?

More bang for your buck in the salaries that you pay people. Still the same wages, but more of your money’s worth. Closer to full power performance.

And time, of course.

Time to fix stress

Un-stunted by illness, the same people can do their jobs better, faster, with fewer delays.

Which gives you time to apply in your next step to turn productivity around, alleviating stress.

Let’s face it, if any of your team were your son or daughter, you would be sympathetic to the pressures they were under – and indulgent with how you handled them. Feelings are sensitive things, and can make or break the strongest relationships.

Hold that thought.

Because your team are human, just like your kids are. They need sympathy and indulgence too – or better still, compassion. If you value them, they need to know they are not machines.

So you give them time. And you can afford to.

You’ve just won a whole load back by getting rid of germs, now spend it wisely to de-stress your team.

Come to that, it’s time that can de-stress a lot of things.

The always-on black hole

Take the accepted Twenty-First Century culture we have drifted into of always-on involvement. A stress-maker if ever there was one. Team members feeling pressured that they never get time to disengage. On edge always to check their emails far into the evening and weekends.

And only a skip from there, working hours late at the office like everybody else. Having to prove commitment over and over again. No wonder they get sleepless nights. And no wonder their energy flags when they’re back on deck in the morning.

So yes, time.

Take a walk round the office at 5.30 and see who’s there. Ask what’s wrong and how you can help.

Well there must be something wrong if they’re still there after hours. Isn’t the work designed to be accomplished in the time allocated? So what glitch has happened to make them work late?

Besides, your team need their own time to recharge and revitalise for you. To go home and engage with their own lives, so they’re ready, fresh and motivated for you in the morning. Likewise weekends and public holidays. Make them take them, it’s to your advantage and takes the pressure away.

People versus people

Then there’s other issues.

Relationships to sort out – people being side-lined by cliques, disagreements with a line manager’s protégé, defusing favouritism, even coping with bullying.

Yes, they all take time to discuss and resolve. But time is a substance you can afford with healthier staff – and it’s not the work that’s important, it’s the people who enable it to happen successfully. People issues SHOULD come first.

So you CAN take time out to consult and discuss. You CAN afford to listen. You CAN take time to show that you care, that you value your people and WANT them to work for you. Just as, by handling them right, you persuade them that they WANT to work for you. And how much stress could that ease?

You may not come to work every morning on the 7.25 to Waterloo. But it would be useful if you did.

Jammed in tight as always, you’re surrounded by shapes with the saddest body language in the country. Sagging, tired and exhausted before they’ve even started, there’s no motivation, these are people who resent going to work.

They are angry, bitter, scared, brow-beaten, already impatient for the day to be over. Nobody has invested enough time in their aspirations to make them WANT to be there. What stress will they go through? What will they do to compensate?

Some will pull sickies. Some will get drunk every night. All of them will clock-watch. All of them will be so stressed they’ll moan like a drain to anyone who will listen.

With good reason. Nobody TOOK THE TIME to show they cared.

Like son and daughter

There’s more you can do with time too – like you would with your son or daughter.

Allow team members time off when they DO feel ill, poor work could be more damaging than none. Time off too when other issues crowd out their ability to concentrate. To see the bank about a loan, get a pregnancy check, sort out child care, go to a funeral, or get ready for a wedding. You care, they pay it back – in effort.

Time is the pressure that stampedes stress, but with a healthy team you’ve got plenty of it. Fewer absences at home, fewer absences staring at their desks– and anyway productivity is up, so reinvesting time can only pay dividends.

Which works for the people in pain too – the ones with the killer back aches or the foot they can barely walk on. But they’re yours, and they’re good, and you need to show that you value them.

So give them time like they’re most important people in the world. Which they are – human assets working for you. Give them time to get down the corridor to the conference room, time to see the specialist, time for their physiotherapy. To turn productivity around, it’s worth it.

Getting your money’s worth

All of which is a lot for your £30 a day. And a lot cheaper than the next generation IT system you might have been considering. Or the wellness package you might have considered as a bribe – gym membership, medical consultancy, keep fit classes, stop smoking clinics…

Why pay extra for them to do their job? Will they do it any better? And wouldn’t they rather have a raise anyway?

Need further convincing?

Well according to the CIPD, absenteeism costs around £87 a day. And according to GCC (now Virgin Pulse), presenteeism costs 10 times more – around £5K per team member per year.

Can any business afford to keep making losses like that? For £30 a day, you don’t have to.

OK, so go to it.

Turn productivity around.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Especially if they knew how easy and inexpensive it was.

Broken and not on the radar

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

So simple the way it works too.

Just by getting rid of germs.

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

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

But it IS broke.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What’s that?

Surely it doesn’t cost anything at all?

Losing hand over fist

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Not getting your money’s worth

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

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

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

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

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

“Do nothing” doesn’t work

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

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

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

Prevention is better than cure – yeah, right.

Except it is right.

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

Prevention – for less than Mrs Mop

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

How does it work?

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

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

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

Worth £30 a day don’t you think?

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

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

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

Highway robbery for sure.

But hang on.

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

More inescapable than taxes.

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

Shock, horror

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

Just the reality of productivity lost from staff being unwell.

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

Better sit down, this might come as a shock.

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

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

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

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

Loose cannons

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

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

It gets worse.

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

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

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

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

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

Ghosts in the machine

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

Look at it this way.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Exorcising ghosts

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

Yet that’s what ALL businesses pay.

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

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

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

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

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

Productivity risks

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

Or that in most business work environments:.

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

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

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

Unnecessary losses

Unnecessary?

You’d better believe it.

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

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

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

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

How’s it done?

Get rid of the germs, get rid of the ghosts

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

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

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

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