As flu season approaches, a survey by Staples Advantage, the business-to-business division of Staples, Inc., confirms that even with heightened preventive measures at businesses, office workers continue to stick to old habits that make it harder to fight flu in the workplace.
This year’s flu and germ survey, which polled more than 150 U.S. office workers, revealed some of the workforce’s cleaning and health habits at the office.
For example, nearly 70 percent of employees admit to coming into the office while sick, a habit that increases the spread of the common virus.
And 60 percent of workers whose employers have sick-day policies felt compelled to go to work because “too much going on” or they felt the need to “tough it out.”
Perception vs. Reality
Survey findings show perceptions of dirty or germ-laden workplace items don’t coincide with employees’ behavior:
- Nearly one-third of respondents believe their keyboard and phone are the dirtiest items in their office, yet less than 10 percent clean these items often.
- About 15 percent think the breakroom dish sponge is the dirtiest item in the office. Half of respondents also noted that colleagues leave dirty dishes in the kitchen.
- Less than 10 percent say they clean desk surfaces very often with disinfectants or sanitizing products, a concerning habit since 9 out of 10 respondents also said many employees at their company eat meals at their desks.
- Nearly 100 percent of survey respondents noted that they are concerned with catching a virus at work, but less than 40 percent have taken additional preventive measures to keep germs at bay.
What an Employer Can Do
Staples Advantage recommends these easy steps to help offices and employees maintain a healthier environment:
- Focus on the simple solution: Proper hand washing is the most important technique that people ignore. Ensure proper hand washing by providing self-foaming soap, touch-free fixtures, and motion-sensor dispensers in bathrooms.
- Be prepared: Some products to have on hand include latex gloves, masks, sanitizing wipes, and disinfecting cleaning chemicals. Also, clean common touch surfaces, such as restroom doors and copier and printer controls, more frequently.
- Utilize technology as much as possible: Whenever possible, promote telecommuting as an option for employees when they’re feeling ill.
“Thankfully, today much is known about how germs and viruses cause illness,” notes Lisa Hamblet, vice president for the facility solutions and service business of Staples Advantage (www.staplesadvantage.com). “Armed with knowledge and a thorough cleaning regimen, businesses can take positive steps to change habits and combat the flu, keep sickness at bay, and promote a healthy and productive office. A proactive approach to prevention is the best defense.”