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The Negative Effects of Presenteeism

Ill staff attending the workplace allow contagious bugs to spread like wildfire through your organisation.

With the news that sickness costs UK businesses £77bn per year in lost productivity, employers need to take an increased interest in the health and wellbeing of their staff to reduce the impact on their profits. Whilst traditionally sick days were to blame, the UK is now experiencing a greater problem in the form of presenteeism, when ill workers still attend the workplace even though they’re clearly under the weather. This allows germs and bugs to spread quickly amongst staff, particularly when poor hygiene practices are at play. By encouraging cleanliness in the workplace, and dissuading sick employees from coming to work until they’re feeling better, companies will be able to stamp out poor hygiene.

Kitting Your Office Out

As we approach winter, certain illnesses are more common and can easily be transmitted amongst office workers, particularly in an open-plan office, or an environment where hotdesking is typical.

In communal areas such as the kitchen, it’s important that your cleaners provide a specialist deep-clean at least twice a year on top of their regular clean, to remove any build-up of bacteria. You should also avoid the use of tea towels, opting instead for paper towels which can be recycled. When it comes to preparing food in a shared environment, it’s essential that hand-washing has taken place following a trip to the bathroom. It’s shocking that some workers admit to not washing properly or even at all after using the toilet.

Stop Contagious Disease From Spreading

Norovirus is a particularly nasty virus that usually spreads throughout the winter months. The most common symptoms are excessive vomiting and diarrhoea, and you can catch the bug by inhaling tiny particles of vomit or excrement, or touching a contaminated surface such as a door handle or toilet seat. Imagine that a colleague falls ill with the norovirus at work and needs to use the office washroom urgently before returning home to bed. There is huge potential for the shared toilet facilities to become contaminated and for that bug to easily spread around the office. Thorough washing of hands can reduce the risk, so it’s important for employees to be encouraged to follow hygienic hand-washing practices, by providing them with washroom soap dispensers, hand-dryers instead of a towel rail, and pedal-operated or automatic sanitary bins so that female employees don’t need to touch the lid when disposing of their items.  Back out in the open plan office, you can also offer hand sanitiser stations.

Clean Desk Culture

Your staff should be motivated to keep their desks and equipment clean. This is particularly important if you have a hotdesk culture or if people share the same tech equipment such as photocopiers or printers. Provide all of your staff with anti-bacterial wipes to use on their work surfaces when they’ve finished for the day. In the same way that gym users wipe down a treadmill after they’ve used it, the same courtesy should be applied when you’ve finished at your desk.

Workplace hygiene is essential to keep your staff healthy. Take immediate steps to promote positive cleanliness and your workers will reap the benefits.