3 ways poor office hygiene could cost your business

Hygiene in the workplace shouldn't be an afterthought.

Did you know that one in four office workers don't wash their hands after they visit the bathroom?

This may seem trivial until you learn that poor workplace hygiene costs Australian businesses billions of dollars every year, with the banking/finance, professional services and real estate sectors impacted most. The fact is, workplace hygiene is not often associated with an unproductive workforce. However, it could be costing your business much more than money alone.

Here are three reasons to prioritise and formalise a culture of hygiene in your workplace.

1. Reduce illness and absenteeism

Let's face it, an office is a hotspot for dirt and germs. And it's not just the obvious locations like communal kitchens and bathrooms that can pose a problem. Phones, keyboards, doorknobs and even the humble printer can all be potential touch points for infection. This is especially relevant in shared environments like offices, where poor hygiene habits will accelerate transmission of debilitating illness such as Norovirus or the flu. According to recent research from Initial Hygiene, Australian businesses lost about $5.4 billion due to employee absenteeism directly attributable to poor workplace hygiene.

2. Improve employee retention

Poor office sanitation can also impact the productivity and overall job satisfaction of employees. A poor culture of hygiene in the workplace can lead staff to believe their health and welfare isn't a priority for their employer, and they will perform accordingly. People who have reason to fret about the hygiene of their environment aren't likely to be at their personal or professional best.

3. Protect your brand

First impressions count, especially when it comes to the hygiene of your premises and the health of your staff. This is especially crucial for businesses in the service and hospitality sector, where poor sanitation is a public health and business risk. In the conventional office environment, you need to project the right image to existing and potential clients, employees and investors. Ultimately, poor office hygiene also reflects poorly on an employer. Staff are less likely to recommend a workplace with poor hygiene to friends and business contacts. This can only lead to a negative association with your brand which may be difficult to overcome.

Establishing a culture of office hygiene

If you don’t already have a proactive office hygiene policy, then you should look to:

· Install hand soaps, sanitisers, no-touch bins, paper towel dispensers and no-touch hand dryers in bathrooms.
· Display hygiene etiquette signage at appropriate locations.
· Establish formal hygiene awareness training for staff.
· Start a cleaning and servicing regime for your workplace and monitor it closely.

Hygiene in the workplace shouldn't be an afterthought. Employers should set an example when it comes to the health and wellbeing of employees, making sure high-quality facilities are available and prioritising hygiene awareness. The benefits to a business are improved staff productivity, stronger financial performance and a clear return on investment (ROI).

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Hygiene in the workplace shouldn't be an afterthought.

28th August 2017
Tania Dalton, Research & Innovation, Initial Hygiene
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