Getting Workplace Hygiene Programs to Stick
It’s always a good idea to follow workplace hygiene programs, and especially so during cold and flu season. But, how can you ensure that people will actually choose to follow it?
There are four key components to a workplace hygiene program. Each one is designed to reduce unplanned employee absences and presenteeism, as well as longer-term medical trend costs associated with minor illness. They include steps to:
- Educate the workforce about high-risk communal areas and office hot spots for germs, as well as how to best reduce the three biggest threats (cold, flu and stomach illness). Employee communications need to include strategic awareness tools, supportive signage, emails and supplemental information.
- Empower employees with greater knowledge of solutions that include hand sanitizers, anti-bacterial soap, surface disinfectants, antiviral tissue and washroom hand towels. It’s also important to explain the most high-risk areas for the spread of minor illnesses:
- Office desks
- Conference rooms
- Break rooms
- Common areas
- Engage employees in healthy habits (washing, wiping and sanitizing hands). Such efforts could include a kickoff party or team competitions that feature incentives and product giveaways to help generate interest in the program.
- Evaluate or measure programs with the help of regularly scheduled swabbing and quarterly progress reports, as well as identify hot spots for the spread of minor illnesses: keyboards, surface areas, conference rooms and break rooms.
It’s estimated that as many as 85 per cent of employees are less productive each year because of minor illnesses, like the common cold, flu and gastrointestinal illnesses. The bacteria that cause these illnesses are often found on surfaces in offices and are easily transmittable from person to person.
The good news is that the majority of workers describe themselves as “germ anxious.” This means that they feel a sense of pride around keeping their work space clean and germ-free, and they are more likely to champion workplace hygiene and hygiene programs.
Check out this whitepaper to learn more about implementing an employee hygiene program in your facility.