Employee absences are expensive. A 2015 survey by Southern Cross revealed that missing work for less than five days cost over $1.3 billion in 2014. From 2013 to 2014, the number of absences also increased, which also indicated losses also went up.
New Zealand workers usually skip work for two reasons, and ranking number one is sickness or injury. These are unavoidable circumstances, but companies can do something to minimise their occurrences.
1. Take a Look at the Bathroom
Bathrooms are a treasure trove of bacteria, fungi, and viruses—no doubt about that. Sick people can touch the handles and leave their flu virus there. Let’s not forget the effect of exposure to body wastes such as urine and faecal matter.
Here’s another thing you don’t know: mould can accumulate on the doors, floors, and walls. Some of them are toxic, while a lot can trigger allergic reactions and respiratory infections.
Cleaning the bathroom regularly is one option. The other is to upgrade it to a more effective bathroom wall lining. Look for small laminate boards lined with thermosetting resins. They tend to be moisture resistant, so they prevent the growth of mould and mildew. As an incentive, you have bathroom walls that can last for many years.
2. Encourage Telecommuting
Letting employees work at home even a few times a week can help businesses save money. But there’s also an underrated benefit: it prevents sick employees from reporting to work.
The 2015 survey showed over 30% of New Zealanders still went to their office despite being sick. Germs, meanwhile, can spread fast, especially in closed environments.
A University of Arizona experiment revealed that viruses could contaminate over 50% of the surfaces and infect employees within four hours. Telecommuting creates a win-win situation for these sick individuals. There will be no added germs in the workplace while the employees can better manage their time between jobs and rest.
3. Extend Coverage to Their Loved Ones
Caring for another sick reason is another common reason for Kiwi absences. The downside they can’t stop working because finances can be tight. As a business, you can help them by allowing them to extend their health coverage to their loved ones. It can be co-pay to avoid increasing premiums on your end.
Either way, employees now have more flexible options on how to take care of their loved ones. Even better, they are less likely to worry about where to get money for healthcare. All these can lower their stress levels and help them become productive workers.
4. Skip the Antibacterial Soaps
Do you know that antibacterial soaps might be doing more harm than good to your employees? A 2010 study by the University of Michigan cited how frequent use of it exposed users to two chemicals: triclosan and BPA. Triclosan can increase the risk of hay fever and allergies. Individuals with high BPA levels tend to have a dysfunctional immune system.
Experts believe that too much cleanliness can prevent people from getting good germs from the environment. What should you use then? Regular soaps and water will do.
Setting up a wellness programme or honouring rest days are essential in keeping employees healthy. But you don’t need to limit yourself in these. The list above shows that you have more choices than you believe.