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?
Meanwhile, the average office isn’t much better.
- 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.
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.
- 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.
How can we get revved up about a wellness programme when we can’t even help ourselves?
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 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.
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.