New Arsenal in the War on Germs

Figured flu season makes this infographic from Best Choice Reviews a viable post, even though much of the information is stuff you already know about germs at work.

Like just how germy your mouse, phone and keyboard are. Or just how much rhinovirus sits on surfaces in restrooms and lunchrooms. Or just how filthy co-workers’ 155316887-- Germshands really are (indeed, the graphic — based on 5,000 swabs of office surfaces and corresponding interviews with several thousand of the folks who touch them — shows 15 percent of workers avoid shaking hands to avoid germs … wonder how that plays out in sales meetings??).

Surprising as some of the new stats are (79 percent of vending buttons are dirty, 1 in 3 office workers have witnessed people leaving restrooms without washing their hands, 53 percent of workers don’t wash their hands after exchanging money), there’s not much more you can do with them beyond communicating the importance of hand-sanitization and making sure dispensers are strategically placed throughout your company.

What I found more troubling were Best Choice’s findings that 72 percent of Americans typically go to work when they’re sick and 55 percent of workers feel guilty when they call in sick.

I wonder how many HR departments out there are seriously and aggressivley communicating the importance of staying home when you don’t feel well, considering all the work that needs to get done today with fewer resources and less money. And surely, it doesn’t stop there. Training managers and supervisors to respond to “I’m sick and staying home today” calls — or “I’m sick but I’ll be there around noon” calls — so health is being promoted just as much as, or even more than, productivity has to be the next and necessary step.

Considering how prevalent and scary the currently spreading flu bug is, this may be something worth thinking harder about and taking up with your powers that be.