Figures from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimate that for the current flu season the influenza virus has caused around 40 million illnesses, between 16 and 19 medical office visits, around half a million hospitalizations, and somewhere between 32 and 55 thousand deaths.
Not all those viral infections occurred in working age, employed persons, but a significant number were. The CDC also estimates that a total of 17 million workdays are missed each flu season, which translates into a monetary loss for employers of 7 billion dollars. That money goes to paid sick days used and to lost productivity. The ideal of everyone’s business model is that each employee is actively contributing to their company’s productivity during every hour for which they are paid. The closer to that ideal a business gets, the greater the economic loss created by an employee absence.
And that’s just the flu. The common cold, E. coli, noro virus, and an array of other microbial infections can send an employee home or to the hospital – or leave them miserable enough to decrease their productivity and contagious enough to multiply the loss of productivity. The goal is not just to keep employees at work but to keep them healthy. “Health is wealth” is one of those truisms that are patently true.
Encouraging good health practices is time and money well spent. Good diet, regular exercise, sufficient sleep, adequate hydration – they all should be encouraged by Human Resources training programs and by whatever opportunities the employer can afford to provide as on-site opportunities: a dietitian-designed menu in the workplace cafeteria; an employee gym or jogging track; a restful, stress-free employee lounge. Admittedly those require significant capital outlay, and properly motivated employees can be entrusted to pursue those components of their own health on their own time, at the time and place of their choice. The provision of water coolers for nearby, fresh water contributes to healthy conditions, along with hand-sanitizer stations.
While health comprises more than the absence of illness, it starts there. A bacterial or viral infection acquired at work can undo the salutary effects of all those health elements mentioned above. So, keeping the environment free of pathogenic microbes is crucial. One way to attempt to accomplish that is with a regular and stringent cleaning program that includes disinfection protocols. Finding a janitorial service that can accomplish that with professional rigor is challenging – and expensive. However, the loss of employees for days, weeks, or longer, offsets that expense.
However, there is a win-win alternative to expecting your janitors to provide the protections you’re seeking. Any diligent janitorial service can remove grime and dust (culture media for bacteria), but many if not most effective sanitizing or disinfectant regimens are so chemically aggressive that they require special protective gear and training. Even with these costly programs safely and successfully implemented, sanitized and even disinfected surfaces are quickly contaminated through employee use. The win-win approach is to let the janitors clean and let the installation of SafeHandles products take care of the antimicrobial campaign. That’s because SafeHandles work continuously to reduce the presence of illness causing microbes that can be left behind on commonly-touched surfaces starting with the front door of your business or the break room coffee pot.