The Value of Cleaning
Often, organizations that track absenteeism are missing the quantifiable connection between cleaning activity and spread of illness in their facility. But in doing so, they underestimate the human resources savings of proper cleaning.
In 2010, Kimberly Clark Professional* launched The Healthy Workplace Project*3 (HWP) in North America and by the end of 2012, HWP was in more than 30 countries. The program uses a combination of techniques to affect behavior and attitude changes in employees. The project’s premise is that if property owners and managers can motivate building occupants to adopt better hygiene habits, they could break the chain of germ
transmission, resulting in cleaner buildings and promoting a healthier work environment.
In fact, the program’s Wash, Wipe, Sanitize protocol has demonstrated that it can reduce the probability of infection for common cold and influenza by approximately 80 percent and can reduce the number of surfaces contaminated with viruses by 62 percent. The program also can reduce absenteeism by as much as 46 percent.
Building Occupant Productivity – Presenteeism
Many organizations track the financial impact of absenteeism, the sum of hours absent from work for a health-related reason. But few businesses properly track the impact of “presenteeism” on businesses’ bottom lines, another area impacted by cleanliness levels and their health implications. Presenteeism occurs when a worker feels compelled to come to work but is not fully functioning due to an illness. As a result, individual productivity can be reduced by at least one-third (Hemp, 2004). Unlike absenteeism, presenteeism appears to be a much costlier problem.
The Harvard Business Review documented this issue as one that companies face as they struggle to rein in health care costs. “We’re talking about people hanging in there when they get sick and trying to figure out ways to carry on despite their symptoms,” says Debra Lerner, a professor at Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston, who notes that presenteeism may be more common in tough economic times, when people are afraid of losing their jobs (Hemp, 2004).
Effects of Presenteeism
Presenteeism can have many negative effects on the workforce, including:
• Spending additional time on tasks
• Decreased quality of work
• Lack of initiative
• Lowered ability to perform at peak levels
• Decreased quantity of work completed
• Inability to be social with coworkers
• Lack of motivation
• Transmission of viruses/illness to coworkers/building occupants/patrons