Employee absences due to illness cost American business dearly. According to research from The Integrated Benefits Institute, in 2012 employee illness reduced total productivity by $227 billion. Some of that money is due to absenteeism; the rest is from employees who show up for work but are less productive because they are sick. And business loses an additional $117 in wage replacement and worker’s compensation.
The lion’s share of employee illness originates in the workplace, itself, where unclean conditions become a magic carpet for the spread of virus and bacteria. And, as if the substantial revenues lost through reduced productivity weren’t bad enough, those same unclean conditions mean lost sales revenues for industries like retail and food that interact directly with the public.
What’s particularly troubling is that much of the revenues lost through reduced sales and productivity could be recouped if business took some simple, precautionary measures to ensure a clean work environment.
By the Numbers
Illness which stems from unclean conditions is a serious drain on employee productivity. For example, influenza and the common cold reduce overall employee performance by three to eight percent. Dust in the workplace drops performance by an additional two to six percent. And unplanned absences reduce productivity by a staggering 54 percent, and customer sales by 39 percent.
But what happens when employers create a clean work environment? Cleaning up the workplace on average reduces surface virus contamination by 62 percent, and that translates into a 46-percent reduction in absenteeism and increased productivity. The resulting gain in revenues is substantial: for a company with 100 employees, a productivity gain of as little as two percent equates to a revenue gain of $125,000.
The Cost to the Food and Retail Industries
Common sense dictates, and research confirms, that customers prefer businesses that are clean. For example, in the food industry customers rank cleanliness as more important that value, speed, convenience or variety, and 60 percent of fast food customers are more likely to return to establishments they perceive as clean. Customers in the retail industry rank cleanliness higher than lighting, temperature, quietness/music or special events. Across industries that service customers directly, 94 percent of customers say they would avoid companies which have unclean restrooms.
Smart Businesses Are Cleaning Up Their Act
Forward thinking companies understand these numbers, and the profitability of maintaining clean work environments. They further understand that the preventative costs to achieve workplace cleanliness are minuscule compared to those related to employee absenteeism and lost customers.
These companies are investing in smart products that offer effective (and cost-effective) workplace cleaning solutions. One such product, Cleanhands (from Cleanint), for example, provides quick and immediate disinfection in the form of a one hand sanitizer spray in a pouch that clips to the wearer’s belt. Customers can purchase refills, each of which lasts for up to 200 uses. This simple step can mean a significant gain in worker productivity and customer satisfaction.
The cost to business of unclean workplaces which spread disease and fend off customers is simply unsustainable in the current economic environment of increased competition and budgetary constraints. Companies can reverse the trend of ever higher costs related to lack of cleanliness in the workplace by leveraging some common sense practices and cost effective products which ensure increased productivity and customer service.