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Healthy workplace, healthy business

Healthy workplace, healthy business

Chris Parkes, Operations Director at Julius Rutherfoord & Co. shares advice on how facilities managers can help improve workplace well-being and motivation.

The recent Stoddart Review investigated why a well-designed workplace is key to productivity in the UK and found that progressive workplaces encourage care for the environment, promote green solutions, and the health and well-being of staff. An effective workplace can improve business productivity by as much as 3.5% that could add up to 70 billion to the UK economy.

Keeping a workplace clean and hygienic, using sustainable methods, plays a vital role in boosting the health, morale and enthusiasm of a workplace. Facilities managers, who work tirelessly to ensure their working environment is fit for purpose, need to be secure in the knowledge that when they outsource cleaning and FM, their service providers will support them with exceptional service.

Cleaning teams should be well-trained in health and safety, hygiene and infection prevention, use the right equipment and techniques, and have effective communication skills. My organisation rewards staff who go above and beyond the line of duty in their care of client facilities through our in-house award and recognition scheme. This is a step that all businesses can take to help motivate their employees.

Meticulous cleaning standards

Thorough and regular cleaning schedules should target germ hot spots, such as lift buttons, door handles and other frequently used objects. Ensuring hand hygiene systems in the washroom and office are well-equipped and accessible, and promoting hand washing with posters and information campaigns, is another way of boosting well-being. Introducing clear desk initiatives, which can bring additional benefits including increasing staff organisation and safety, also helps.

Instead of using harsh (and often harmful) chemical solutions to sanitise surfaces such as office desks and kitchen countertops enzyme-based biological cleaning products are a much safer, sustainable, and therefore healthier option.

Pure water systems, microfibre cloths and diamond encrusted twister pads are just some of the options that can be used to reduce or even eliminate the need for chemical cleaning agents. Where cleaning products are required there is a range of chemical free cleaning products which are tried and tested to provide the same level of results as chemical solutions.

Encourage healthy workplace thinking

As well as ensuring fundamental working conditions are in place, including light, space, temperature and ventilation, consider extra measures to boost employee well-being. Actions like providing fresh fruit, water dispensers for hydration, adding cycle racks to encourage staff to cycle to work and offering flexible working can create a healthy working culture and improve business performance. Provide dining facilities and encourage staff to take a break at lunchtime. This will have the added benefit of boosting concentration levels and productivity.

Most of us use laptops, tablet computers and smart phones, and because of the frequent contact with our hands and proximity to our faces, germs are easily transferred to them. Bacteria can build up on these devices to alarmingly high levels, in the worst cases up to 18 times higher than you might find on a toilet seat. With the support of Kimberly-Clark Professional, my organisation assists companies in improving their own workplace health and well-being. One of the steps we have taken is to introduce healthy workplace kits, including tissues, sanitising hand gel and keyboard wipes to encourage staff to keep their tech clean and reduce contamination. Specially formulated cleaning wipes clean hi-tech devices without damaging the electronics or screens.

Ensure every new employee receives a healthy workplace induction to ensure they understand the company ethos and the wider benefits of hygiene and well-being. These activities should be communicated via the staff newsletter and company intranet. Organisations should consider appointing a Health and Well-being Champion, or champions, to ensure that initiatives like this are communicated throughout the business and to encourage healthy workplace thinking.

Fair pay

Ensure direct employees are paid the Living Wage or London Living Wage as a minimum and actively encourage contractors to adopt the Living Wage. A survey of Living Wage workplaces in London showed employers who implemented the London Living Wage saved money by reducing staff turnover rates (by as much as 25%) and lowering levels of staff sickness. Increased productivity, resulting from a fairer wage can more than cancel out the increase in wages.

Measure the impact

Whilst there are many unmeasurable benefits of a workplace well-being programme, there is a strong quantifiable impact. Factors like recruitment costs and average sick days can easily be measured. The Stoddart report highlights how small rises in productivity are far from trivial, so increasing motivation and well-being is something that should be top of the business agenda.

Reader Reply Number 2010009
Julius Rutherford

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