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British Business’ Billion-Pound Boost

A new report by CEBR and Initial Washroom Hygiene, has revealed the impact of poor hygiene on employees. See how the UK economy could save billions if companies would only have a good clean-up.

Good hygiene is promoted everywhere you look – hospitals, offi ces, schools and public washrooms just to name a few – but after a report conducted by the Centre for Economic and Business Research (CEBR) on behalf of hygiene specialist Initial Washroom Hygiene, the fi nancial value which good hygiene standards have for businesses across the UK is becoming evident. The research also provides an insight into the impact of poor offi ce hygiene on employers and employees in developed economies across the globe. So now, there’s a reason to keep clean.

Just A Statistic? Every year, seasonal infl uenza wreaks havoc across the UK. Offi ce buildings, where people are in close proximity and where humidity levels are relatively high, the optimum conditions exist for viruses and bacteria to spread. Now, research indicates that the British economy could save £13.7billion if offi ce hygiene standards were improved – the monetary equivalent to the construction of 25 major new hospitals or the combined annual wages of 460,000 UK offi ce staff.

In total, poor offi ce hygiene is expected to have reduced UK GDP by 0.8% or £13.7billion in 2013, due to workers taking time off sick


and by affecting their time whilst at work. Sick leave, as a result of poor hygiene, cost the UK economy £4.2billion last year, but even more shockingly, £9.5billion was lost due to the time wasted as a result of poor hygiene, such as queuing for a clean toilet, washing dirty dishes or going further to fi nd a washroom with suitable facilities – all factors that can waste valuable time.

Daniel Solomon, Economist at the CEBR, commented: “This report indicates that for every worker employed, British businesses are throwing £700 down the drain. It’s a general rule that the better you care for something, the better it will perform – the British workforce is no exception. For the majority of businesses, staff represent a signifi cant investment; in failing to create a healthy workplace environment, employers are failing their employees and businesses.”

In addition to the economic costs of staff absenteeism and time wasting, the report also reveals that businesses are compensating for poor workplace hygiene in multiple ways. While 39% of offi ce workers in the UK believe improving offi ce hygiene would increase their level of job satisfaction, the average UK offi ce worker would be willing to sacrifi ce £130 per annum to ensure their offi ces are maintained to a

higher hygiene standard. If these potential savings are reinvested in making the offi ce a more hygienic environment and helping to change hygiene behaviours in the workplace, employers could see an increase in productivity and effi ciency.

Dr. Peter Barratt, Technical Manager at Initial Washroom Hygiene UK, commented: “Any business has the opportunity to improve fi nancial performance through providing better hygiene facilities, but employers also need to understand their role. Our research has unearthed some shocking hygiene habits in the UK. Almost 1 in 10 (9.8%) of offi ce workers use their mobile in the washroom and nearly 1 in 20 (4.6%) state they will read a work document. These behaviours increase the chance of germs and bacteria spreading throughout the workforce.

“What we need is a two-pronged approach to education and behavioural change – from employees and their employers. If employers invest the money workers would be willing to sacrifi ce in higher quality hygiene facilities, they would have happier, healthier and more productive workforces. By waking up to the real business benefi t of providing hygienic environments, organisations will see a demonstrable impact on their business’ bottom lines.”

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