What catch 22? Wellness programmes work, right?
Big companies point to them as big success. Team members who’ve quit smoking, inactive ones taking more exercise, high blood pressure down, social and mental health on the up, big savings on health care costs.
Nice to have if you can afford it – either directly or through insurance plans. A whole basket of feelgood grabbers for your team – everything from premium discounts to cash rewards, gym memberships, and other incentives.
Fitness – not the same as keeping well
All of them basically geared to promote team health and fitness – typically to stop smoking, manage diabetes, lose weight, or check for problems through health screenings. And that’s on top of ergonomic work stations, pleasing colour schemes, beneficial lighting and feng shui décor. Anything and everything, as this gung ho wellness guide shows.
But prevent germs?
Not generally on the radar – unless you count company flu jabs. Yeah OK, protect staff – an afterthought jab of corporate conscience.
What’s really in play is enhancing performance – healthier team members mean greater work capacity, more bang for the buck, better productivity.
More output, efficiency – faster, faster!
Yep, you got that right – it’s all about money.
And because business is always about money, that’s the language decision-makers best understand.
Golden handcuffs, deadly threats
Which is how they understand wellness programmes. Golden handcuffs for top-performing staff – carrots to work harder. A glittering El Dorado to stop trained team members taking a walk down the road to the competition.
Germs don’t come into it, despite exposure in the workplace to billions and billions of them every day. Every moment we breath, move, touch something or swallow we’re exposed to more.
And the only protection on offer?
A flu jab – with already iffy effectiveness against this year’s strain of Aussie A (H3N2) virus.
Yet right in many workplaces, waiting to pounce, is another far more lethal health threat most decision-takers know nothing about. Even though every business manager is personally responsible for seeing teams are properly protected. And is liable to a £5,000 fine, a further company fine, and possibly a custodial sentence for 18 months if they’re not.
Legionella is a pneumonia-related bacterium that breeds in water systems. Still-standing water, like in office air-con cooling systems, or the showerheads in the washroom. It spreads by air, so you breathe it in.
And it’s so deadly, the Health & Safety people throw the book at you if it’s discovered on your watch. A £1 million fine for JTF Wholesale after two men died. £1.8 million for G4S Cash Solutions – for putting over 200 people at risk and dragging their heels for 3 years over fixing it.
Stick or carrot
Fail to protect staff and it’s big stick time.
But to keep things on a business footing, preventing team illnesses is also big carrot time. Not so much catch 22 – more like common sense.
What does it cost in gym membership, medical check ups, keep fit classes, stop smoking clinics and fresh fruit in reception to have an impressive-looking wellness package on place?
As much as 25% of your salary bill?
Because that’s how much is lost every year from team members under-performing at their desks.
And that’s on top of the 6 days absenteeism most businesses have for every staff member – at an average £522 per head.
You read that right, under-performing at their desks. And that’s the catch 22.
It’s called presenteeism and we all do it – drag ourselves into work when we’re not feeling well. And kidding ourselves we’re up to the job, even though the room’s going round, figures look all blurry and a pounding head makes any communication impossible.
57.5 days a year we’re like that – every one of us. Almost three working months.
Every 3 days
That’s not continuous time either. It’s all in fits and starts, something throwing us off our game roughly every 3 days. A day out of it, another day bouncing back – then starting all over again. Three working months plus.
Which means, do the math. Right now you’re paying everyone 12 months salary, but they’re only giving you 9 months worth of value. The rest is fumbling around, going through the motions and quite possibly counter-productive.
But take away THE CAUSE of being unwell and you up productivity by one third – from the 9 months you get now, plus a reclaimed 3 months – bringing you back to a full 12 month year.
OK, it’s not all caused by germs.
People have long-standing conditions, disabilities, physical injuries and musculoskeletal pain.
They’re also stressed. Worried about relationships, finances and job security. All three of which can be job related, MAKING them depressed and prone to illness. Or in turn, being the driving motive to come to work, even though they’re so unwell they feel like death. A catch 22 of their own.
Germs, germs, germs
Which makes the major chunk of everything germs. Exposure to germs in the workplace – where lots of people work closely together, sharing the same space, touching the same things, breathing the same air. Infecting themselves and contagious to each other – all stirred around by highly efficient HVAC systems.
Sloppy hygiene doesn’t help. Because we can’t see germs, we don’t see there’s a problem.
So we take chances. A few unsavoury facts:
- 62% of men and 40% of women NEVER wash their hands after going to the toilet.
- 95% of people don’t even wash their hands properly.
- Only 12% of people wash their hands before eating.
For the same reasons, our surroundings are no safer:
- The average desk has over 10 million unseen bacteria – 400 times more than a toilet.
- A typical keyboard may have 7,500 organisms hiding on it.
- Only one in five of us ever cleans our desk before eating.
- At least two in three of us always eat lunch there.
But take away the germs, and all these issues go away too. A REAL wellness programme that PREVENTS GERMS – with a boost to productivity that makes others look like chicken feed.
And it’s so easily done.
REAL wellness – and no catch 22
Antibacterial wipes or gel on every desk to reduce the personal risk. And a nightly sterilising regime on top of the regular cleaning schedule.
Forget the golden handcuffs, this way everybody wins.
It’s not rocket science either. Simply a wellness programme that keeps people well.
No catch 22 about it. And isn’t that wellness programmes are supposed to be?
Picture Copyright: dr911 / 123RF Stock Photo