Why hand hygiene can go a long way for employee health

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Hand hygiene might sound like something a five-year-old learns on their first day of school but – according to one VP of HR – it’s actually an incredibly effective tool when it comes to workplace wellness.

“A comprehensive hand hygiene program can provide significant benefits to a company because it can quickly improve the health and wellness of employees and pays for itself,” says Joe Smerick, VP of HR at GOJO Industries.

The manufacturing giant recently teamed up with Medical Mutual of Ohio to analyse just how effective hand hygiene initiatives could be in the workplace.

The study – published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine – found that making hand hygiene products easily available in the workplace can not only reduce doctor’s visits but also increase morale and encourage positive habit change.

“We found that an office equipped with hand hygiene products throughout the workplace reduces doctor’s visits due to preventable diseases – like the cold, flu and respiratory illnesses – by over 24 per cent, and reduces unscheduled paid time-off by more than 13 per cent,” revealed Smerick.

“The study also discovered that having a corporate wellness program makes for an overall better office environment by boosting office morale,” he continued.

“Employees like to know that their employers care about their health and appreciate them providing health enhancement amenities – in fact, eight in ten employees participating in the study indicated that having access to hand hygiene products positively impacted their impression of their employer.”

Interestingly, the study also found that introducing hand hygiene products to the workplace actively encouraged employees to pursue healthier habits.

“After adding hand sanitizer to the office, 40 per cent more employees said they regularly cleaned their desks to prevent illness,” noted Smerick.

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