A new report has found that Aussie office workers are taking 1.6 sick days each year as a direct result of sub-standard hygiene in their office – and it’s costing business owners a combined $5.4 billion in lost earnings.
The report, commissioned by Initial Hygiene and produced by the Centre for Economic and Business Research, also found that employees are spending a further 2.2 days avoiding unhygienic areas in their office, by doing things like queuing for the cleanest toilet cubicle instead to avoid using a toilet that needs cleaning. Initial Hygiene found that this is costing businesses $6 billion a year.
According to the research, one in four Aussie office workers don’t wash their hands after using the toilet, which creates dirty hot spots in the office. Giving gravitas to that, Initial Hygiene said that as a result the most contaminated object on an office worker’s desk, the phone, has 25,127 microbes per square inch, while their desk , while the desk itself will have, on average, 400 times more bacteria than a typical toilet seat.
“It may surprise businesses to realise just how significant the impact of hygiene is to employees,” Initial Hygiene spokesperson Natalie Howard said. “Almost every business has the opportunity to improve its bottom line simply by providing better hygiene facilities. Initial’s report demonstrates that if employers invest the money in hygienic workplace facilities they will reap the benefit with a reduction in absenteeism and an increase in productivity.”
Supporting Howard’s claims, the report found that 40 per cent of employees would find greater satisfaction at work if workplace hygiene improved. Perhaps surprisingly, these employees also said they would be willing to sacrifice an average of $240 per year from their salary in exchange for a more hygienic office environment. Below, Howard offers a few steps that any business owner can take to improve hygiene in the workplace.
1. Washrooms: Risk hotspots in the washroom include toilets, flush handles and cubicle handles. Salmonella and Campylobacter can be found in these areas, and both can cause Gastroenteritis when germs are transferred from surface to hand. The spread of infection can be minimised with toilet sanitisers and toilet seat cleaners within the cubicle and hand soap and drying facilities in the washing areas.
2. Reception: Door handles are a risk hotspot in reception and entrance areas, housing bacteria that can be transferred by surface to hand and from hand to hand. It can cause skin infections, food poisoning and respiratory diseases. Easily accessible hand sanitisers will kill germs and help prevent the spread of infection.
3. Corridors / common areas: High footfall makes corridors and common areas germ hotspots. Clean air sanitisers eliminate malodour-producing bacteria and hand sanitisers will help prevent the spread of infection.
4. Desks / meeting rooms: Door handles and desk surfaces are risk hotspots in meeting rooms, housing Rhinovirus. It is transferred from surface to hands and causes the Common Cold. Hand sanitisers from Initial can help minimise the spread of germs.
5. Kitchen area: Food preparation surfaces in kitchens can be home to pathenogenic strains of E.coli. It can be transmitted from surface to hand, hand to mouth or by infected food and can cause Gastroenteritis and urinary tract infections. Good hand washing and drying products as well as hand sanitisers will help to minimise the risk of infection.
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