A Guide to Maintaining a Healthy Office Pt. 2

The second part in our series of posts on how to improve the health and well-being of office staff, we look at some more ways to reduce staff sickness and improve office well being – some ideas may seem obvious but are critically important, others are perhaps more novel.

Wash your hands

Starting with the outright obvious. Regular hand-washing is essential to prevent the spread of germs. This may seem like primary school stuff, but 62% of men and 40% of women don’t wash their hands after visiting the toilet!

Bacteria and viruses can be passed from person to person by hand contact or by touching contaminated surfaces such as door handles or lift buttons. You should encourage staff to wash their hands after their daily commute, before and after lunch, and always after using the toilet. Hands need to be washed with soap and warm water. Rinsing hands with water alone is much less effective than using soap as pathogens lodge in the natural oils of our hands. Drying is just as important, as any wetness will aid the transfer of bacteria that’s on the hands.

Employers must provide hand washing facilities, with running hot and cold water, soap and towels, or other suitable means of drying. Awareness posters are effective at reminding staff to wash their hands.

Stay at home when sick

All too often people feel pressure to come into work when they are sick, spreading their germs and making others ill. Sickness presence (presenteeism) can adversely affect general staff morale and contribute to longer recovery periods from illness.

A recent Work Foundation report found that employees with higher levels of sickness presence had significantly lower performance scores compared with those with lower levels of sickness presence. Staff who are ill should stay at home until the symptoms disappear to reduce the risk of cross infection at work. This can be encouraged by offering sick pay above the statutory minimum, so people don’t feel penalised for being sick.

Promote a healthy work culture

A healthy workplace isn’t just about managing germs. Often staff retention, well-being, motivation and productivity can be increased through a more holistic approach to your working culture.

It’s important to ensure the fundamental working conditions such as ventilation, temperature, lighting, cleanliness, space, workstations and seating are in place, however there are other measures you can take to create a more progressive and healthy working culture:
Boost employee well-being by providing fresh fruit, water dispensers for hydration, corporate gym membership and a shower to encourage people to cycle to work. Reduce stress levels by offering flexible working options, such as home working, different shift patterns or flexi-time. Organisations benefit from this too, as studies have shown that flexible working is directly linked to improved business performance.

For more advice on maintaining a clean and healthy office, call us on 0800 4488026.