Tag Archives: wellness

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.

Why you CAN afford to let staff pull a sickie

Moneybags Boss 2
Handling a sickie right – you should be saving money, not losing it

What kind of sickie, fake or real?

And for a genuine cause, or is that a load of porkies too?

Because, you may not know this, but you’ve already written off the cost. It’s already paid, so it’s not like you’re out of pocket.

Your people investment

Kinda nice to have the background, though. To know that your investment is properly justified.

Huh? Already paid? Investment?

Sure. Written off, right? You’ve paid, or you’re about to.

It comes out of salaries, like every sickie does – real, as well as fake.

And you’re paying for a lot more besides.

Like all the times staff would like to pull a sickie, but don’t dare:

  1. They’re sick alright, but they’ve pulled one sickie too many, and now their job’s at risk.
  2. They’re too embarrassed or scared to ask about something, so come to work anyway.
  3. They’re hiding a real problem, and they don’t want anyone to know.
  4. They’re genuinely sick, but don’t reckon it’s bad enough to stay away.
  5. They’re genuinely sick, and don’t want to burden colleagues with extra work.
  6. They’re genuinely sick, but dread the reality of being home alone.
  7. They’re genuinely sick, but want to stop their rivals getting ahead of them.

Each one a non-sickie, yes? Because they’re at work.

The price of sickies-on-the-job

So the reality is, you’re now lumbered with sickies-on-the-job – and you’re paying for those too.

Because they’re at their desks, all present and correct – but not in proper shape to handle their work effectively. Feeling grim as all hell and going through the motions.

Under-powered and not really concentrating, what sort of work quality are they capable of delivering? And if their mind’s not fully on the job, how many errors are they making, or simply not recognising? At what cost?

Better the job’s not done at all if it’s botched. Plus you pay for it twice to get it right – and it takes twice as long. Where’s the economy in that?

Presenteeism, it’s called. About as much use to you as if they’d stayed home anyway.

And get this. On average, everyone on the payroll goes through it 57.5 days a year – including you. Ten times the number of days most people book off sick – almost three working months.

Never mind if every instance is kosher or not – the fact is, at the moment when it happens staff are not up to the job, even though they’re present. Unproductive and costing you money.

Affects everybody

And it’s not always your veteran skiver with a massive hangover every Monday either.  It’s just as likely to be your hot graduate newcomer, falling apart inside because her boyfriend dumped her. Or your IT whizz-kid in a blue funk about his gambling debts. Or your rock-steady accounts lady, trying to hide running to the loo every five minutes with some tummy bug.

Often illnesses, always issues. Some of them so big, they take over the whole person. Because we’re human and not always perfect – needing constant attention to keep ourselves functioning. Just look for the signs – fatigue, unusual temper, sudden changes in emotion, behaviour and appearance.

We’re not always on top form either. Like for instance, each of us has something that ails us about every three days. Headaches, back pain, stomach cramps, coughing like crazy. Or every cold and flu bug that goes around, a paper cut that goes septic, period pains, and the inevitable virus.

All of which prevents staff from doing their job properly. And all of which you pay for. The glitches and mistakes – and the salaries of course.

Twelve months’ salaries, nine months’ work

TWELVE MONTH salaries. Out of which your expectation is to get twelve months’ productivity.

Except presenteeism robs you of it – subtracts three working months’ worth for everybody on the payroll.

So whatever salaries you’re paying are effectively only nine months’ worth.

Which is why you can afford to indulge staff who pull a sickie. You’ve got 57.5 days you can afford to give away anyway – before making losses on REAL staff costs. 57.5 days with which to soothe their anguish, ease their worries – and establish your reputation as the most caring boss in the country.

Because count on it, most reasons for pulling a sickie are for genuine issues – staff just assume they’ll never be accepted. Aside from the lazy ones who can’t get motivated after holidays and weekends – and without strong commitment or enthusiasm for the job, who needs them anyway? One or two duvet days is OK – but after that, take a hike.

Super-boss

Anyway, granting time off because you can puts you in a different league. You’re a boss who understands and has staff interests at heart. Never mind going the extra mile, you’ll have them eating out of your hand.

Look at it from their point of view. So how DO you explain that Argos say they’ll deliver some time between 8.00 am and 5.00 pm – which means hanging around like a spare part or the goods get stolen? And how easily it’s fixed by taking the laptop and working from home.

How much better do you feel that you can attend Aunt Bessie’s funeral and carry the flag for your side of the family so the in-laws don’t get sniffy?

Or better still, that you can go for the knee op – and take proper time to convalesce – not hobble round like a peg-leg pirate for the rest of your life?

Time for your staff is the most valuable motivator you can have. And every business has the opportunity to deploy it – a whole new dimension to your duty of care.

Inspired, motivated, committed

Suddenly working for you becomes sought after and special – a valuable recruitment plus and retention advantage. The trick now as Mr Nice Guy is to coax back as many of those 57.5 days as you can to bump up productivity.

Flexible working is a great start – particularly as some staff may have a commute of two hours or more – and this week there are further delays on East Anglia / Virgin / South East / Thameslink. Besides, coping with sick kids gets easier when operating hours aren’t rigid and people can log in remotely at two in the morning.

Just make sure every issue is properly discussed and reviewed afterwards. If you’re giving time away it has to have value, be appreciated as a privilege, given proper respect.

And you can claw back more time by racking up workplace wellness.

No, no, not the feelgood bribes of gym membership, fitness clinics, stop smoking groups and diet classes. Yes, they work, but they don’t win back time.

We mean REAL workplace wellness – actually making the place safer and healthier from any illnesses caught from the office environment or from colleagues.

It’s dead easy too – and not expensive. Add sterilising the office to your regular evening cleaning sessions and there are no illnesses to catch.

Once again you’ve proved to staff you have their interests at heart, making the place pleasant to work in and safe from germs.

Now who would want to pull a sickie after that?

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.

Why loads of corporate wellness plans carry a bitter taste

Worried lady is she bitter?
Plenty to be bitter about – one day we’re all going to be fat, no matter how good the corporate wellness plans

Ever tasted antibiotics? Probably not, they’re bitter as all hell.

Which you’ll know soon enough if you bite through a capsule without meaning to.

Except, excuse us, what do antibiotics have to do with corporate wellness plans?

Only that they’re why most corporate wellness plans exist in the first place.

And with growing realisation that looking after employee health is a major business objective, corporate wellness plans are already the Next Big Thing.

The wellness bandwagon

Look no further than the new emphasis on physical activity in business workplaces. Big buck outfits put in swimming pools and running tracks, while smaller ones have gyms. Or if budgets can’t stretch to that, sponsored membership of the keep-fit centre down the road.

Skilled staff are assets to be wooed and cultivated long-term. So the new drive is an investment against long-term health conditions like the nation’s rapidly increasing obesity epidemic. Two thirds of British adults are already overweight or obese, marking them inevitably as future victims of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

Which is why pretty well all front-line businesses are gung-ho for a “fitness against fatness” strategy.

There’s only one problem.

Yes, we’re all getting fatter, which is not good for our long-term health. And yes, most office jobs are sedentary and involve very little moving around. But while exercise and fitness is undoubtedly a good thing, it often has little or no effect on encouraging weight loss.

That’s because, as Lord McColl, emeritus professor of surgery at Guys Hospital and former shadow health minister told Parliament last year, “It is impossible to be obese unless one is eating too many calories.”

The bitter pill

Ergo, we’re fat because we’re eating too much.

And why, after thousands of years of our bodies most of the time naturally remaining slim and trim, are we suddenly eating more than we should?

It’s a bitter pill to swallow, but we all do it without knowing.

We’re all eating too much because of antibiotics.

Unless we’re farmers, few of us are aware that antibiotics are phenomenal growth boosters – used in great volumes across the board for food production to sustain our massive explosion in population growth over the past 65 years – from 2½ billion worldwide in 1952 to 7½ billion today.

We think of antibiotics as medicines, the miracle life-savers of our modern age. In reality this is a side effect, now secondary to their main function as growth boosters in agriculture. Believe it or not, 240,000 tonnes of antibiotics are shovelled into animal and plant production every year.

Like it or not, that means sustained sub-therapeutic doses of antibiotics are in everything we eat – meat or vegetable – particularly over the last 20 years with the introduction of factory farming.

Without any idea that it’s happening, our own bodies react in the same way to these continuous low doses. We eat more and more, beyond when our natural needs and requirements would normally tell us to stop.

Obesity epidemic

So like the animals, we fatten up fast – but with a difference. They are only going to survive 45 weeks, until they are ready for market. We keep on going, not just getting fat but getting fatter – almost accepted as the new norm. So everyday in fact, that there is now an international resort that caters expressly for the plus-sized.

Not good news for corporate wellness planners. Enough to make them bitter and twisted. Because no matter how elaborate the facilities they put in to encourage our fitness, with the exception of the health-obsessed, we’re all just going to get fatter.

The very long-term health conditions they’re trying to avoid are on their way – we’re literally eating ourselves into diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

Nor is that the only thing to be bitter about.

With all the big bucks focus on corporate wellness, nobody seems to be thinking workplace health protection. A running track might be great for muscle tone, but it won’t stop a tummy bug like norovirus. Nor will antibiotics, come to that – though we strongarm the Doc for them.

Antibiotics: a living curse

Meanwhile our workplaces are crawling with germs that may never be removed, even with regular cleaning. On high-touch surfaces and in the air – a possibly deadly health hazard most corporate planners are never aware of – and a £319 billion dent in our national productivity.

Plenty to be bitter about – though workplace germs CAN be eliminated at the touch of a button.

The bigger problem is antibiotics. We can’t live with them, and we can’t live without them. They save lives, but antimicrobial resistance from overuse is rapidly making them useless. And they promote growth – bigger animals, quicker; larger plant crops, faster – without which there wouldn’t be enough food to feed us all.

Altogether, a train we cannot get off.

No good being bitter about it though – and at least we get amazing places to work in.

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.

You’ve got to be sick, sick, to need the NHS

Heart attack woman
If it’s not a sickie, how long will you last in denial?

Sick as in not well, feeling ill, under the weather.

Because if you’re well, or only slightly poorly, you’ve no business wasting NHS time.

This is winter, see? When the NHS is really over-stretched.

Cold weather, lots of breathing problems, the seasonal bash of norovirus – and boozed-up party-goers with injuries from fights, accidents or liver-crashes.

A&E meltdown

All on top of the usual load of people needing operations, treatment for disease, controlled recuperation, or long-term care.

If none of these are you , then stay the hell out. Trivial problems just kick the whole system into overload.

Unless of course, you’re one of those workaholics in denial. Taking a big chance, but trying not to think about it.

You know you’re sick, but you’re swamped at work. Or maybe you fear for your job if you take time off.

Wellness doesn’t help

Yeah, yeah, so your company has a wellness programme. You go to the gym, follow their salady diets, fake the medicals or duck them.

But you’re at your desk six days a week at 7 am, work through regularly until 10 pm, always burning the candle at both ends.

Always with a sniffle too, because your resistance is low. Tired out of your mind, with no resilience. Tummy complaining, but you drag yourself around. How long before you give yourself a heat attack?

You need a doctor and you know it. And you’re probably dragging your colleagues down with you – a misplaced work ethic that costs UK businesses £29 BILLION a year.

You see, just by being ill you put others at hazard.

Your company might have wellness procedures and care about health.

Colleagues at risk

But betcha a million quid they’ve got nothing to get rid of harmful germs spreading around in the workplace. A quick vacuum and a wipedown and that’s your lot. All those viruses and bacteria just waiting to bring somebody down.

And the rate you’re going, you could trigger an epidemic.

Which means you need the NHS as a matter of urgency. And your employer needs to hike up hygiene levels before half the staff join you.

Like HEPA filters in the air conditioning to take out the germs.  Or a nightly mist-up with hydrogen peroxide to make the whole place sterile. Or both, for 24 hour protection. More effective than exercises in leotards, tracking your weight, and making you eat grapes.

So that if you insist on going to work, at least those around you stand a fighting chance.

Bet on yourself

Go on, get yourself to the doctor. You’re genuine, not pulling a sickie. And the whole NHS exists exactly for people like you. You’ve proved your worth, now invest in yourself.

DO IT!

And if your boss still can’t come to terms with that, you’re working in the wrong place anyway.

Do it NOW, before something happens and you can’t.

Ever.