Germs multiply at a fast rate in the workplace. Did you know that the average work desk can be up to 100 times less hygienic than your kitchen table, and 400 times dirtier than the average toilet seat? Probably not. When you’re working in close proximity with other colleagues, it’s no wonder that germs and illnesses can spread so quickly, leading to several employees needing sick days away from the office.
In a recent report, it was revealed that sickness absences cost employers on average around £29 billion per annum. In collaboration with DCS Multiserve, an industrial cleaning company, we discuss the cost of sick days versus the cost of keeping your workplace clean and germ free. Could a clean office save you money in sickness pay-outs?
Office cleaning habits
Equipment in the office can become a breeding ground for germs. The average keyboard which sits on most of employees’ desks is home to approximately 16 million microbes alone – that’s around 3,295 microbes per square inch of your keyboard. To put this into perspective, there is only around 49 microbes per square inch of a toilet seat – making it clear how dirty keyboards in the office are. And that’s no surprise when only 3% of offices are said to sufficiently clean their equipment – and 11% of employees never clean their keyboards.
Some germs, such as those that lead to the common cold, can survive for up to three days on office equipment. Another concerning fact is that more serious microbes such as MRSA can last anywhere between six weeks to seven months, highlighting how important it is to regularly clean work surfaces and equipment.
People in the workplace are not taking personal actions to stop the spreading of germs either. All of 32% of employees admitted to not washing their hands after using the bathroom, and a further 30% confessed that they only use water to ‘wash’ their hands. Keeping this in mind, it’s no surprise that 24% of us have faecal bacteria on our hands, which is then transferred onto the surfaces which we touch. One single person carrying a virus will infect 50% of all equipment and fellow employees in the same vicinity within four hours. Killing germs sooner rather than later will reduce and prevent future contamination and the spread of infections around the office.
The cost of an absence
Research gathered from the UK’s biggest annual survey of sickness absence rates and costs, where 670 organisations were surveyed, showed that during 2014, sickness absence averaged at 2.7% of working time per year. This equates to 6.5 sick days per employee. In total, this cost employers an estimated £29 billion a year.
It appears that this year is set to follow a similar pattern. So far in 2017, public sector organisations have witnessed a median of 3.5% of working time lost due to illness (8.1 days per employee), and 2.2% in private-sector organisations (5.1 days per employee). Without your employees, your company’s production rate is limited.
As 80% of infections spread via contact with an infected surface or piece of equipment, your office could be the reason behind the high level of absences amongst your employees. Allowing germs to spread around the office can leave employers short staffed and out of pocket, so maybe it’s time to invest in an office cleaner?
How much does a cleaner cost?
There are some suggestions that DCS Multiserve have made to keep your office clean at a low cost – hand sanitising wipes and gel, regular desk and keyboard cleans and implementing a no food at your desk rule. However, you can’t expect your staff to clean the entire workplace on a daily basis to kill any germs that have set up home around the office. Hiring a cleaner, or cleaning company to clean your workplace is an investment which will in turn help to save you money in sick days.
To pay for a cleaner, businesses generally pay around £13 per hour, per cleaner. However, prices can vary on the size of your premises and what you require the cleaner to do. Quotes are unique to each business. It’s likely that you will not need your cleaner to work every hour of the working day – in most cases, a few hours are sufficient — that’s if the company you employ provides a reliable and quality service.
If an employer was to recruit a cleaner who comes in for two hours, each working day, it would cost around £130 per week. Presuming you require a cleaner for 50 weeks of the year, with two weeks off to account for Christmas and any office closures, it would cost approximately £6,760 per year, which is a worthwhile investment to prevent the spread of infections around the office, and save you money in staff sick pay.