Rising pressures: How effective disinfection in the workplace can help drive commercial success

An office environment can be a source of germ transmission. For that reason, they need a robust cleaning and disinfection regimen that is both backed by comprehensive, science-backed protocols, while engaging employees to participate in the hygiene experience.

After the past three years, when we look at businesses across a variety of industries in Australia, they continue to face several challenges – ranging from inflation,[1] all the way through to staff shortages in states such as Victoria[2].

With many being required to do more with less, the importance of productivity and efficiency has never been higher.

Based on 2022 from Australia and overseas, it’s anticipated that influenza could very well peak earlier than the usual winter season[3].

Furthermore, the Australian treasury estimated that 31,000 people missed work each day in the month of June 2022 alone, due to ongoing health issues associated to contracting COVID-19 [4].

While not the sole factor, robust cleaning and disinfection protocols can play an important part when it comes to building the foundation of a holistically healthy business.

The rising pressures of absenteeism

With seasonal influenza activity expected to continue this year, following a resurgence particularly after the reopening of international borders in 2022,[5] how it pans out may very well have an impact on overall business productivity.

During the height of summer in January 2021, around 90,000-100,000 people in Australia were away from work due to illness in one week alone.

The following year, that number jumped to 450,000[6]. For businesses experiencing staff absenteeism, the most common reason reported in 2022 was for self-isolation or quarantine requirements (82 per cent), and staff having COVID-19 symptoms or illness (73 per cent)[7].

With businesses taking responsibility for maintaining high cleaning and disinfection practices in their workplace, it’s hoped these numbers will drop this year.

In a study conducted in the United States in 2016, assessing the link between a comprehensive workplace hand hygiene program, workplace absenteeism and employee perceptions and practices, concluded that providing hand hygiene solutions throughout a building improved both employee health outcomes, and job satisfaction[8].

Considering the impact, the presence of efficacious and trusted hygiene products can have on a workforce, making them readily available to employees in plain sight can be a wise move.

At Dettol Pro Solutions, as the number one manufacturer in disinfection in 2022[9], and Australia’s most trusted brand[10], we pride ourselves on reputation.

Undertaken in 2020, our most recent research indicates that 68 per cent of Australians are more likely to be confident in the level of hygiene of a business if they use Dettol, which increases to 81 per cent amongst those who are ‘hygiene driven’ when making decisions to visit a business[11].

This helps us to not only understand how important consumer trust is, but also the impact effective and efficient cleaning and disinfection solutions can offer businesses.

Curbing contamination

An office environment where many people are sharing a space, can be a source of germ transmission.

For that reason, they need a robust cleaning and disinfection regimen that is both backed by comprehensive, science-backed protocols, while engaging employees to participate in the hygiene experience.

What’s more, understanding where and when to direct cleaning and disinfection measures is critical.

A key method to minimise time, product, and the spread of germs on surfaces, is to look towards cleaning and disinfection techniques where hygiene surface and hand hygiene interventions are prioritised when and where they are most needed[12][13].

By focusing on what needs the most attention, businesses can be more efficient, simply by encouraging cleaning and disinfection to take place at key moments, rather than just ‘frequently’.

Research has shown that high-touch points such as door handles[14] and hand dryers can become contaminated by dirty hands, which can be transferred to the hands of the next people who touch them.[15]

When it comes to the use of protective measures such as hand sanitiser, if a dispenser needs refilling less frequently, it might mean that it needs to be placed somewhere more accessible and visible, or perhaps the messaging encouraging its use needs revisiting.

Driving commercial success

Creating a workplace where the health and wellbeing of all workers is protected is not just the right thing to do, it’s good for business. If establishing a healthy workplace isn’t prioritised, the costs associated with sick leave, and needing to replace those workers can lead to a potential productivity issue impacting the business overall[16].

At Dettol Pro Solutions, we understand that running a holistically successful business involves many factors but maintaining a rigorous hygiene and cleaning program should be high up the priority list.

Jonathan Weiss is Global Business Solutions Commercial Director EUANZ at Reckitt If you’d like to find out more and become a partner, visit www.reckittpro.com.au.

[1] ABS, 2023, Price indexes and inflation, https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/economy/price-indexes-and-inflation#:~:text=In%20December%20quarter%202022%20the,the%20public%20sector%20rose%200.7%25.

[2] Victorian Government, Workforce challenges are likely to persist, https://www.vic.gov.au/victorian-skills-plan-state-victorian-labour-market/workforce-challenges-are-likely-persist

[3] RacGP, Chance of early flu season in 2023 , https://www1.racgp.org.au/newsgp/clinical/chance-of-early-flu-season-in-2023

[4] Productivity Commission Australian Government. 5-year Productivity Inquiry: A more productive labour market, https://www.pc.gov.au/inquiries/completed/productivity#report

[5] NSW Health, 2023 seasonal influenza vaccination information for immunisation providers, https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/immunisation/Pages/flu.aspx

[6] ABS, Hours worked fall with more people sick or on leave, https://www.abs.gov.au/media-centre/media-releases/hours-worked-fall-more-people-sick-or-leave

[7] ABS, Staff absent in 22% of businesses due to COVID-19, https://www.abs.gov.au/media-centre/media-releases/staff-absent-22-businesses-due-covid-19

[8] Impact of a Comprehensive Workplace Hand Hygiene Program on Employer Health Care Insurance Claims and Costs, Absenteeism, and Employee Perceptions and Practices, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4883643/#R48

[9] According to Nielsen MAT value share to 26/12/20

[10] Winner Most Trusted Brand 2022. Voted by Australians and New Zealanders, Reader’s Digest, Overall Most Trusted Brand, Household Cleaning and First Aid

[11] Kantar, September 2020. A study prepared for Dettol at Reckitt to understand the Australian consumer mindset and role of Dettol during COVID-19, n=1007

[12] The Case for Targeted Hygiene, 2019, Accessed 7 July 2022 at: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/1757913919864070#:~:text=Targeted%20Hygiene%20is%20an%20 approach,in%20Figures%201%20and%202).

[13] Bloomfield SF, Rook GA, Scott EA, Shanahan F, Stanwell-Smith R, Turner P. 2016. Time to abandon the hygiene hypothesis: new perspectives on allergic disease, the human microbiome, infectious disease prevention and the role of targeted hygiene. Perspectives in Public Health. 2016;136(4):213-224. doi:10.1177/1757913916650225

[14] Rheinbaben FV, Schünemann, S Groß, T, Wolff, MH, 2000. Transmission of viruses via contact in a household setting: experiments using bacteriophage φX174 as a model virus, Journal of Hospital Infection, Volume 46, Issue 1, Pages 61-66, ISSN 0195-6701, https://doi.org/10.1053/jhin.2000.0794.

[15] Safe Work Australia, Hygiene – Retail, supermarkets and shopping centres, https://covid19.swa.gov.au/covid-19-information-workplaces/industry-information/retail-supermarkets-and-shopping-centres-2

[16] Safe Work Australia, Healthy workers & workplaces , https://www.safework.sa.gov.au/workers/health-and-wellbeing/healthy-workers-and-workplaces