The best way to protect employees’ health is to prevent sickness first; as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to alter the way employers think about wellness, it’s essential to address how office cleaning habits can affect workers’ mental and physical health.
People may fall ill from an unclean workplace, but the anxiety and stress of a messy office or fear of infection can be just as damaging. Falling behind on deadlines can lead to increased pressure, which worsens the impact of illness on the immune system.
To take care of your employees, you need a strategic cleaning and sanitation strategy. Hiring professionals to keep your office sanitised and clean can improve absenteeism rates and reduce the quantity of sick leave used.
Employee Absenteeism in Hong Kong
Lost productivity from an unorganised workplace can cost businesses as much as $2.5 million a year. A messy office can also increase stress, one of the leading causes of absenteeism in Hong Kong. Each year, the average employee in Hong Kong misses 8.3 days of work, leading to an annual economic loss of HK$5.3 to HK$14.9 billion.
Within four hours of entering the work environment, employees can spread a virus on as much as 50% of all surfaces—the more interaction between workers, the greater the risk of infection. Increased exposure through cross-contamination leads to a prolonged illness, increased absenteeism and even recurrent infection.
The Leading Causes of Illnesses & Absenteeism in the Workplace
Burnout, Stress & Low Morale
Employees may avoid going to work because of heavy workloads, stressful meetings/presentations, and sentiments of unappreciation. Absenteeism can also be caused by personal stress outside of the workplace.
Employers are concerned about decreased productivity and absenteeism, which commonly accompany workplace stress and conflict, especially in nations struggling with staffing after COVID-19. According to the WPO's workplace wellbeing study, one out of every three employees who reported workplace problems missed at least one day of work as a result.
Presenteeism can be characterised in various ways, but it most typically relates to situations in which people continue to work despite being sick and not performing at their best. Evidence is mounting that presenteeism is more common and costs more than absenteeism.
Presenteeism due to infectious disease is widespread. Organisations should foster a pleasant working culture and develop sickness absence policies that limit presenteeism to address the circulation of viruses and illnesses within the workspace.
Viruses spread quickly in any work environment; as employees enter a shared space, they bring any contaminants and bacteria from their homes into the office. Every person who touches a piece of contaminated equipment, such as computers, keyboards and cellphones, spreads the same bacteria around the office.
Bacterial Spread from IT & AV Equipment
IT equipment is often overlooked by office cleaners and employees as a surface that needs to be cleaned and sanitised daily. This happens because general office cleaners are not trained to clean electronics, and employees might be unaware of the amount of bacteria on the equipment.
- An average keyboard contains 7,500 bacteria, or 3,000 micro-organisms per square inch.
- A desk has roughly 10 million bacteria on its surface, making it 400 times more contaminated than a typical toilet seat.
- 1 in 6 phones are contaminated with bacteria such as E.coli
How to Prevent and Reduce Employee Sickness & Absenteeism
Professional cleaning services offer thorough decontamination that kills bacteria and protects everyone in the workspace. Typical cleaning products, or even just soap and water, are ineffective at killing the bacteria and germs that live in the workplace.
A professional-grade disinfectant spray and disinfectant wipes for electronics are necessary to achieve the most significant results and the highest level of protection. Employers can protect their workers drastically, lower the risk of illness and reduce employee absenteeism by scheduling services for ongoing cleaning.
Promote a Cleaner Workspace for Everyone
In addition to cleaning services, there are also many steps managers can take to keep their employees safe. Protecting the office starts by developing a personalised prevention plan. Proactivity is the heart of health and wellness; this approach can prevent illness in the first place and offer greater peace of mind to everyone in the workplace.
These tips will help offices establish guidelines and protocols to protect everyone without disrupting office productivity.
Invest in High-Quality Disinfectant
Disinfectant sprays and wipes can help employees routinely sanitise their workspaces. Place disinfectant wipes at all shared spaces, including break rooms, bathrooms, and entryways. Encourage workers and office visitors to disinfect any high-contact surfaces after use, such as:
- Door knobs and door handles
- Bathroom faucets
- Toilet flushers
- Pens, pencils and other office supplies
- Chairs and desks
- Keyboards, screens, mice and cell phones
- Handles and stair railings
- Light switches
Ensure that any products you purchase explicitly state that they clean and disinfect. Some products are designed only to clean a surface, but they do not effectively kill most bacteria.
Use Preventative Equipment
Enforce a mask policy, even if employees are fully vaccinated. Cloth masks effectively block the exhalation and inhalation of large respiratory droplets, preventing both exposure and contraction of viruses like COVID-19.
Installing transparent barriers between employees and customers can also reduce exposure; protective face gear, such as goggles, face shields and gloves can also be used to prevent infection and keep the workplace cleaner.
All workplaces should have proper air filtration and good ventilation to prevent particle build-up. Any droplets, bacteria, and pathogens in the air can eventually infect workers and contaminate surfaces. Even opening windows and doors can lead to improved ventilation, so management should be conscious of how space is being utilised in their respective offices.
Invest in Your Employees’ Health
While expenses are a strong motivator to improve workplace cleanliness, personal health and safety are the most important reasons to consider upgrading your current solutions. A professional cleaning company allows organisations to protect their greatest assets: their employees. Creating a healthier, happier work environment can lower health risks, increase job satisfaction, and reduce absenteeism rates.
Hiring a professional cleaning service company can ensure your office is safe for everyone. If you are interested in scheduling office hygiene services Hong Kong, please contact us today.