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Beat the winter blues

3050888Yes, it’s that time of year again. We all know what is coming. Along with the enjoyable excesses of the season we know that the inevitable cold and flu viruses are on their way too. Being that your staff spend 50 per cent of their waking life in your facilities it makes sense to understand that you can have a direct influence on the likelihood of sickness in your workplace. How can a washroom services company help you save money during the winter months? Partly this will come down to the obvious health aspects however there is a very real, hidden, danger to your workplace that may well be causing you to lose employee hours without any absenteeism – employee mental health. In this article Oliver Johnson of ABC Hygiene gives his top tips are to help your employees through the hardest months of the year

1. A HEALTHY WORKPLACE
There are a number of simple aspects to take care of here and all can provide real cost savings along with the reduction in employee absence. If it is a nice day out and you have opening windows then open them. Open the front door too. Let the world in and freshen up your workplace. Whilst you’re letting the world in you are also letting the germs out….and that is where you want them. For those environments where this is not so easy to do, like offices in a heavy traffic location or in a noisy industrial estate it would be a good time to invest in an air purification solution to take on this task.

There is also contact hygiene to consider. Making sure your washroom facilities have decent mixer taps to provide your users with the ability to wash their hands in warm water might increase the number of users completing this task lowering the possibility of the spread of germs through touch. Add to this a simple upgrade to a hand dryer and you have just significantly reduced the number of opportunities for your staff to spread illnesses within your facilities. Hand dryer prices are far more reasonable than many people know and can pay themselves back within 12 months of installation with reduced waste, laundry and time combined with increasing the likelihood of users thoroughly washing their hands. Finally you can add a nice bonus to your washroom service with a hand cream dispenser next to your new hand dryer. Your staff and visitors can leave your washroom facilities with clean hands and a positive outlook.

iStock_000026685182_XXXLarge_CUTAlso consider your waste management options. With immune systems naturally lower at this time of year maybe discussing a temporary increase in the frequency of waste transfer with your washroom services supplier could lower your risk of infection whilst increasing your employee morale. After all at this time of year we spend a lot of time in close proximity and indoors. It is vital to ensure a positive environment. Which brings us neatly onto our next point.

2. A HEALTHY MIND
The darkness creeps in during October and November. By December we are leaving home in the dark and arriving home in the dark. Luckily during December people are, mostly, bouyed by the prospect of the upcoming break. Whether a casual Christmas type, a truly dedicated Christmas fan or simply somebody who enjoys a nice period of downtime we all know that we are going to get a nice break, see family and friends, eat too much and maybe enjoy a couple of sherries…. Not everybody is on the particular page though and there is a significant risk of depression as outlined in this informative article.

Some statistics point to nearly 50 per cent of men and 20 per cent of women suffering serious depression over this period as they reflect on their lives and relationships. How many people work at your organisation? How many, potentially, have a depression risk? It isn’t like you can go round and ask them all about how they feel. Bar the expense and time there is the fact that people would rather not risk telling their employer about their problems as they feel it might put their job at risk.
So, what to do?

Creating a pro active strategy might well be a good place to start. Think about your office environment. Is it attractive? Does the lighting affect people in the right way? What options do you have to make the environment more conducive? Mood lighting can easily be placed in certain key points of your workplace to bring some life into a dull workplace. This study has been cited by many on this subject and provides an interesting link between productivity, light and the ability to see outside of your workplace environment.

Even if you can’t implement any changes for this perhaps you could ensure people use their break time effectively. If it is a nice day encourage people to take their lunch away from their desk and to use all their allotted time to get outside the workplace environment. On a more “wintry” day is their a location where the worker can be peaceful during their lunch break? In short, get them up and away from their desks, encourage them to use their free-time effectively.

Lastly make frequent changes to your air freshener scents to enliven your workplace and make it a positive place to be during these dark months.

3. A HEALTHY WORKER
Many businesses support worker’s health with gym membership schemes, office based exercise activities and simply encouraging their workers to get out and about. Has your business considered paying for your staff to receive a flu vacinnation? There are many service providers that will visit your premises and provide this for a reasonable charge. This low cost step could easily reduce your business absentee risk for this winter period.

4. A SAFE PLACE TO BE
Winter outside is, naturally, more dangerous than other seasons. With ice, rain, leaves and mud making driving, riding, running and walking more difficult we tend to favour more rugged footwear and heavier clothing. To increase workplace safety it is worth considering installing specific floor matting types for your environment to reduce dirt, wet and debris collecting inside your workplace which increases the risk of slips and falls article from September. What about when your staff are finally inside? Is there a facility for them change into more comfortable work clothing and to leave their wet, outside, clothes to allow them to feel more comfortable. Combine this with a fun, uplifting, “slipper” day. Encourage everybody to wear comfortable and entertaining slippers in the workplace for a day to make them feel more
at home.

About Sarah OBeirne

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