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Lower absenteeism with an office spring clean

Posted on: Tuesday, February 12th, 2013

Regular office cleaning could lower levels of absenteeism and increase productivity, considering most colds and viruses get spread in closed spaces such as the workplace.

The nights may be getting lighter and the snow has abated for now, but the UK still has a few winter months to contend with. As shop stocks of Berocca and other vitamin supplements grow short as the general public attempt to battle the common cold, employees could have a role to play in ensuring the spread of viruses is mitigated and helping workers remain healthy.

According to a recent PricewaterhouseCoopers study, absenteeism is costing UK businesses £32 billion a year, with British workers taking double the amount of sick days than employees in the US. The study revealed that UK workers have an average of ten days unscheduled absence from their jobs each year, around twice that of their counterparts in the US (5.5 days) and Asia-Pacific (4.5 days), but on a par with Western Europe (9.7 days).

As much as managers like to bemoan such trends, they should be considering what they can do to lower the rates of absenteeism in the workplace. Germs and viruses spread through close contact of individuals, so surfaces should be whipped down after use and toilets, kitchens and other communal areas should be well cleaned and treated.

Richard Phelps, HR consulting partner at PwC, commented: "Absenteeism is a malaise for British business. With sickness accounting for the lion's share of absence, the question for employers is what can be done to improve health, morale and motivation."

Keeping a tidy, sanitised and thoroughly clean office should be the first step in achieving this. Not only will employees feel benefits in the health, but they will also be better motivated by working in a pleasant environment.