Minor illnesses including colds, flu and stomach upsets, are the number one cause of short-term sickness absence for employees in the UK and with an increasing number of staff choosing to self-medicate and continue working, harmful germs and bacteria in the workplace present a worrying problem for employers.
“Presenteeism” or illness at work is estimated to be up to 3x the cost of “sickness absence” and with the average cost of employee sickness absence being over £650 per employee per year, it is understandable why an increasing number of employers are now focusing on promoting employee well-being as a means of reducing absence costs and boosting productivity.
Typical employee well-being strategies include giving access to counselling services, offering ‘stop smoking’ support, providing health screening and healthy canteen options together with subsidised gym membership as well as introducing robust sickness management policies.
However, studies show that by simply adopting good hand hygiene practices, employers could reduce short-term sickness absence by up to 50%.
The latest report to confirm the significance of this statement is the Which report published in May 2008, that highlighted “computer keyboards are 5 times dirtier than your toilet seat”.
From the keyboards swabbed for the report, concerning levels of E.coli, Coliforms, Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) and Enterobacteria were found; all harmful germs that cause common illnesses such as colds and stomach upsets.
As working culture changes, practices such as hot-desking or eating lunch at your desk are considered to be conventional workplace behaviour.
Consequently, our offices have become “bacteria cafeterias” as we transfer germs, invisible to the naked eye, from home to work and back again.
So, for organisations passionate about employee welfare who wish to be seen as being at the forefront of their field, and for organisations where the absence of a key person is critical to operational efficiency, what is the solution to this invisible problem?
The answer to this problem is simple; a new product that, in partnership with Dettol, has been researched, developed and manufactured by the Deb Group: Deb InstantFOAM.
Employers can set an example of employee wellbeing by not only providing adequate hand washing facilities but also through promoting the use of a foam hand sanitiser such as Deb InstantFOAM; applied regularly to clean, dry hands to complement routine hand washing.
Everyone should use a hand sanitiser as they enter and leave their main work environment; this is particularly important in large communal offices.
In addition, a hand sanitiser should be reapplied every 2-3 hours and certainly immediately after coughing, sneezing or touching surfaces or equipment likely to have been contaminated.
It is particularly important to use a sanitiser prior to consuming food e.g. before a working lunch/finger buffet.
By using Deb InstantFOAM, employers could reduce sickness absence and the associated business costs as well as increase personnel wellbeing and staff morale, which ultimately boosts both productivity and profitability.