Avoidable illness and productivity losses: Is there a solution?

According to research by British private health insurance firm Vitality Health, the UK economy loses a staggering £77.5 billion annually due to staff sickness. This accounts for almost a month of lost productivity per staff member, per year – and that was even before COVID-19 and the subsequent “pingdemic”.

But what can business owners and managers do to make their workplaces healthier? Most spend a sizable amount on cleaning and maintenance, but beyond a well-bleached toilet, what can reasonably be done? After all, many sick days or productivity losses are a result of chronic conditions, like hay fever or dust allergies.

The solution may lie in the air we breathe.

The impact of indoor air quality

Viruses and bacteria are easier to spread indoors. As we’ve learned from the coronavirus pandemic, pathogens reach higher concentrations in poorly ventilated areas. This is also the case for other irritants like dust, pollen and pollution, or more dangerous still, mould. These particles are linked to conditions like hay fever, asthma, or in the case of mould, Legionnaire’s disease – which is extremely serious. 

Aside from the obvious symptoms of a viral or bacterial infection, poor indoor air quality can cause other uncomfortable symptoms. The British Lung Foundation lists a dry throat, cough, itchy and runny eyes, a runny nose and inflamed, swollen sinuses – none of which are conducive to a comfortable working environment.

The reality is, you may be exposed to more pollution indoors than out; according to research, you’re exposed to more PM2.5 cooking an omelette than standing at a London roadside. Equally, when it comes to respiratory health, cleaning products could be doing more harm than good. For instance, certain compounds in bleach such as chlorine can irritate and damage the respiratory tract.

The case for improvement beyond sick days

There’s no doubt that £77.5 billion is an enormous amount of money. However, the case for clean air at work isn’t just about sick days. Healthy staff are happy staff, who ultimately, work better. Besides, low morale has been shown to be far more damaging than time taken off. According to Gallup, disengaged employees cost American businesses up to $550 billion a year in lost productivity.

Demonstrating that you care about your staff’s health is important to making them feel valued. A report from the American Psychological Association found that feeling valued at work was linked to better physical and mental health, along with higher levels of engagement, satisfaction and motivation. Addressing indoor air quality is a strategy that’s effective on both levels – not just a material difference, but to show staff that you care. 

The solution for cleaner indoor air 

Rejuvenair recognises the value of clean air indoors. This isn’t only to prevent the spread of pathogens like COVID-19; it’s also to enhance building users’ overall health and well-being. This could account for significant gains in productivity, not just by keeping employees healthy but keeping them happy. 

Rejuvenair air filtration technology uses UVC germicidal filters coupled with highly effective HEPA-13 filters. These components inactivate 99.9% of viruses and bacteria in the atmosphere while filtering out larger pathogens that are detrimental to respiratory health. To learn more about the science, click here.