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February 2022

What is the REAL cost of hygiene in the office?

Written by Nathalie Leblond
Workplace Hygiene, Health and Safety

The aim of this blog is to address the concerns business owners may have around the additional cost of hygiene in the office post-pandemic.

Last week's blog post topic took a look at how the great resignation (or the "great renegotiation" as some are calling it ) is forcing employers to change their definition of what a good work environment looks like, and what role - if any - hygiene has in becoming an Employer of  Choice.

Workers are bargaining for better pay, better perks, more flexibility, and better treatment - and the bargaining power has shifted in their favour. While asking their employers for more flexibility around working hours and working from home, they are also paying closer attention to the working environment their employers are providing - and how safe they feel within this space.

Understanding consumers shift in perception around hygiene standards and practices has become so important that Initial commissioned a global study to gain insights into it. You can learn more about these insights by downloading our Global Hygiene Report.  

Download Global Hygiene Reset Report

Just one of the many insights from our Global Hygiene Report was that for people in the workplace, 61% of those working in shared spaces stated they are now likely to sanitise their hands regularly at work to manage hygiene risks due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Some markets feel this is a greater priority, though, with 85% of respondents in South Africa saying they would sanitise their hands regularly to manage potential risks in a workplace environment. 

Pressure on employers to prioritise hygiene

When looking at the workplace, 84% of respondents felt it was important that employers prioritise creating safe and hygienic environments. Over half said they would go as far as to raise concerns to their employer if they didn’t demonstrate a clean workspace. This clarifies that most employees rely on the employer to keep the workplace environment safe as they consider returning to work, and that integrated hygiene will be essential to a back to work strategy for businesses.

These increased expectations around good hygiene practices will continue to impact the way we live and work, and have relevance for employers wanting to attract employees back to the workplace. 

The REAL cost of hygiene in the office

So what does this mean for employers? Already having to contend with employees making demands around greater flexibility, better perks and better pay, the idea of having to invest in costly additional hygiene measures to keep employees safe and satisfied is probably not one they are relishing. 

Employees maintaining social distancing for hygiene measures

But that's where Initial comes in. Good hygiene measures don't have to be prohibitively expensive. 

When it comes to hygiene services for your company there are generally two options. You can opt for a professional hygiene service provider to keep your office environment hygienic, or you can adopt a do-it-yourself approach. 

The DIY approach often seems appealing at first: business owners and managers tend to think that hygiene isn't a specialist service and thus their daily cleaner can do it, others say that their business is too small to warrant a professional hygiene service provider. But the main objection we face is cost, as customers think that a professional service must be more expensive than buying products at the local Supermarket.

In our blog post "What can you buy for R2.90 a day" we debunk this myth, and argue that the cost of good workplace hygiene is less than the cost of a box of printer paper. And not only does professional hygiene cost less than you think, but it also has the added advantage of providing peace of mind that refills will be taken care of seamlessly. No more running out of hand sanitiser or soap because the person responsible for doing the purchasing was off sick! 

Then add to that the fact that the consumables (such as soap, sanitiser and disinfectant products) provided by a professional hygiene service company like Initial are of the highest quality. All our products are accredited by the relevant industry bodies and come with safety data sheets for your protection.

The cost of hygiene vs the cost of absenteeism

Poor hygiene can raise employee absenteeism

When business owners weigh up the cost of providing additional hygiene solutions for their employees, it would be wise not forget to forget about the Rands and cents cost of absenteeism. Without sounding insensitive, having colleagues off ill affects the bottom line and ultimately costs money. If you need a reminder of how expensive absenteeism can be, check out our blog: Your business is losing 100s of days a year.

You may also be interested in reading about the implications that pests can have on your hygiene efforts and how to prevent them on your premises.

According to Occupational Care South Africa (OCSA), absenteeism costs the South African economy around R12 - R16 billion per year, and the Human Capital Review estimated it to be an even higher R19,144 billion annually. This equates to around 15% of employees being absent on any given day - and these figures are taken from before the Covid-19 pandemic!

While it's hard to find South African figures, an analysis from the Integrated Benefits Institute (IBI) in December 2021 estimated that the cost to US employers for absent workers due to COVID-19 is thought to total more than $78.4 billion over the past 22 months. This is a more than $25 billion increase since the IBI's previous analysis in April 2021 on the cost of lost time from work.

Keeping employees healthy makes good business sense, especially when you can do it for as little as the cost of a box of printer paper. Can you really afford not to? 

Contact Initial today for a free hygiene survey of your premises, and find out the real cost of keeping your employees happy and healthy through good office hygiene. Don't forget to also download a copy of our Global Hygiene Reset Report to learn more about the impact that COVID-19 has had on hygiene attitudes and behaviours globally.

Download Global Hygiene Reset Report

Nathalie Leblond

Nathalie Leblond

I joined Rentokil Initial South Africa in 2004 as the PA to the MD, and after 6 months maternity leave I re-joined the Company in 2009 as the Marketing Co-ordinator for Rentokil. I'm now the Marketing Communication Manager for Rentokil Initial. I'm still terrified of cockroaches (Americana's only!) but the rest of the creepy crawlies we deal with don't really bug me (see what I did there?), so I guess I'm in the right industry! I am passionate about what we do here at Rentokil Initial and also write for our Hygiene Blog, which can be found at blog.initial.co.za, and our Ambius blog - https://www.ambius.co.za/blog. Life outside of Rentokil Initial mostly revolves around my daughter, who has just turned twelve, and my husband (who is a bit older). I love living in Cape Town and wouldn't trade living here for anywhere else in the world.

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