Building Occupant Productivity-Presenteeism

Building Occupant Productivity-Presenteeism

Many organizations track the financial impact of absenteeism, the sum of hours absent from work for a health-related reason.  But few businesses properly track the impact of “presenteeism” on businesses’ bottom lines, another area impacted by cleanliness levels and their health implications. Presenteeism occurs when a worker feels compelled to come to work but is not fully functioning due to an illness.  As a result, individual productivity can be reduced by at least one-third (Hemp, 2004). Unlike absenteeism, presenteeism appears to be a much costlier problem.

The Harvard Business Review documented this issue as one that companies face as they struggle to rein in health care costs.  “We’re talking about people hanging in there when they get sick and trying to figure out ways to carry on despite their symptoms,” says Debra Lerner, a professor at Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston, who notes that presenteeism may be more common in tough economic times, when people are afraid of losing their jobs (Hemp, 2004).

Effects of Presenteeism

Portrait of a sick young business woman blowing her nose while speaking on the phone

Presenteeism can have many negative effects on the workforce, including:

  • Spending additional time on tasks
  • Decreased quality of work
  • Lack of initiative
  • Lowered ability to perform at peak levels
  • Decreased quantity of work completed
  • Inability to be social with coworkers
  • Lack of motivation
  • Transmission of viruses/illness to coworkers/building occupants/patrons

 

Impact of Cleanliness on Presenteeism

In a study of 400 managers and employees conducted by HLW International LLP (Buildings, 1999), employees’ productivity levels were determined to be heavily influenced by the cleanliness of the office in which they worked.  More importantly, productivity of employees was not the only area impacted; employers who found it difficult to recruit prospective employees also were affected.

A businessman at work with a severe headache. White background

The study found that cleaning has a very real and measurable value, specifically reporting a 5 percent productivity gain ($125,000) in a 100-associate office with an average salary of $25,000.  The study provides a formula that can be used to calculate a minimum cleaning-related productivity savings for an organization:

formula-to-calculate-savings

A Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) (Minnesota Department of Health, 2008) report regarding the impact of cleanliness on student performance in educational facilities also supports the theory that the average productivity impact of proper cleaning can range from 2 percent to 8 percent.

The MDH report cites two separate office environment studies that found good housekeeping protocols that thoroughly removed dust from surfaces were found to have both health and comfort benefits.  In the first study, building occupants who experienced mild symptoms of distress or discomfort (dry eyes, itchy or watery eyes, dry throat, lethargy, headaches, chest tightness) began to perceive a loss in performance ranging from three percent to eight percent, depending on the number of symptoms.  In the second study, exposure to a reservoir of dust (an old carpet) affected subjects’ typing, arithmetic, logical, reasoning, memory, and creative thinking skills by two percent to six percent.

mid adult architect with hands over face, having headache. Copy space

According to a 10-month survey of more than 25,000 individuals conducted by Advance PCS Center for Work and Health (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2002), off-task workers cost businesses an average of $250 billion a year, or approximately $2,000 per worker.  The estimates were derived from their salaries and estimates of time spent at work engaged in reduced on-the-job performance because of illness.  Cost impact was estimated by multiplying lost productive time (absence hours plus hours lost from reduced performance) by the individual worker’s hourly labor cost.

Better management of employees’ health, including a proper cleaning for health program, leads to improved productivity, which will create a competitive advantage in a hyper-competitive global economy. Improved cleaning practices, a comprehensive workplace hygiene program, high-performing cleaning products, and the deployment of quality management principles will impact the health and wellness of workers, and as data has correlated, improve the business’s bottom line.


About ISSA

The leading trade association for the cleaning industry worldwide, ISSA has a membership that includes more than 6,100 distributors, manufacturers, building service contractors, in-house service providers, and others interested in the cleaning industry. ISSA helps its members and their employees make valuable contacts through the industry’s largest cleaning shows, produced in conjunction with Amsterdam RAI, under the brand name ISSA/INTERCLEAN®.

ISSA also helps increase professionalism and networking opportunities through its global Web site, ISSA.com, and by offering business tools, industry standards – including the popular CIMS/CIMS-GB program – and legislative and regulatory services. It is through these initiatives that ISSA increases awareness of the true value of clean and its impact on human health, the environment, and a better bottom line. The association is headquartered in Lincolnwood, IL, USA. For more information, visit www.issa.com.

Dan Wagner

Dan Wagner is ISSA's Director of Facility Service Programs and has been with ISSA since November of 1999. He is primarily responsible for leading the association's sustainability and facility service programs, including the Cleaning Industry Management Standard & CIMS-Green Building Certification Program and Transpare. Dan has published numerous articles and spoken at various conferences, workshops and seminars on CIMS, standardization, management principles, and the true value of clean.

Dan is also a noted "subject matter expert" on green cleaning and a sought after speaker on environmental preferability, sustainability and green operations and maintenance. He has served as an SME for the International Facility Management Association and IFMA Foundation and is a co-author of the Foundation's "Global Guide on Green Cleaning," as well as a primary contributor to the "Business of Green Cleaning" manual.

Dan is also the association's Director of Facility Service Legislative Affairs and in-house legal counsel, having received his Juris Doctor degree from DePaul University in 1998. He is also a licensed attorney in the State of Illinois; a member of the American Bar Association, the Illinois Bar Association, the American Society of Association Executives; and serves on the Board of Directors of the National Floor Safety Institute.

About ISSA

The leading trade association for the cleaning industry worldwide, ISSA has a membership that includes more than 6,100 distributors, manufacturers, building service contractors, in-house service providers, and others interested in the cleaning industry. ISSA helps its members and their employees make valuable contacts through the industry’s largest cleaning shows, produced in conjunction with Amsterdam RAI, under the brand name ISSA/INTERCLEAN®.

ISSA also helps increase professionalism and networking opportunities through its global Web site, ISSA.com, and by offering business tools, industry standards – including the popular CIMS/CIMS-GB program - and legislative and regulatory services. It is through these initiatives that ISSA increases awareness of the true value of clean and its impact on human health, the environment, and a better bottom line. The association is headquartered in Lincolnwood, IL, USA. For more information, visit www.issa.com.

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