Even though Chipotle may have taken a more mindful approach to fast food and changed the industry for the better, there’s also the unfortunate truth that the name “Chipotle” is now associated with their disastrous multistate health incident. The sales of Chipotle were cut by almost a third last December and the analysts at JP Morgan believe that the company will have lost three years of their earnings through 2014 and 2017. This comes as the CDC announced that there was no known source of the problem, with Chipotle themselves believing that it came from a contaminated beef supply that cross contaminated their other foodstuffs because of poor handling.
The truth is that any business could be struck by a health problem at any time, especially if they don’t take the right steps to reduce the risk. How well your company handles keeping everything clean and hygienic, whether you run a restaurant, a retail store, an office, or any other kind of establishment where people come together and share restrooms, can make or break a business. According to hygiene expert Brian Greenberg of Wholesale Janitorial supply, “There is more than just the immediate impact and fallout; it can also damage your reputation in the long-term and cause your business to suffer for a long time; possibly forever.”
These days everyone is online and so any small mistake or mishap can quickly become global knowledge in a matter of minutes. If you throw in how litigious everyone seems to be now, you need to ensure that everyone who visits or works at your business leaves as healthy as they arrive. It’s become critical to your business at this point.
Now that you understand this, here are 3 simple steps you can take to keep your workplace cleaner and safer. You’ll have a workplace that is clean and safe for employees. You’ll also be leaving your customers happy and healthy, which is great for your business and your wallet.
Develop Procedures and Stick to Them
Your business needs to be vigilant about cleanliness on every level. As the owner of the business, an executive or a manager you need to make sure that your employees are aware of the hygiene procedures and also ensure that they understand how important it is for them to stick to these procedures. These procedures include how to properly wash hands of course. The Centers for Disease Control say that properly educating employees on how to wash their hands can reduce some health problems by up to 21%. Unfortunately there are still too many people who don’t fully understand how they should be washing their hands. The recommended procedure from the CDC is to wet your hands, lather them with soap, and then scrub them for 20 seconds. Ensure that the backs of your hands are scrubbed, along with between your fingers and under your nails. You should also supply antibacterial products for cleaning surfaces, and make such cleaning a part of the end of a shift.
Even though many businesses do place signs reminding employees to wash their hands, far too many businesses don’t have deeper conversations about how to do this properly and they don’t work hard enough to make cleanliness and hygiene a part of the workplace culture. Many businesses also don’t take time to think about the hotspots that need cleaning the most; this includes keyboards, door knobs, printers, refrigerators, cash registers, microwaves and credit card machines. While these things do present a challenge to any business there are some businesses and industries that come with their own challenges. For example there are many restaurants that will give their employees initial training on how to behave in a kitchen but will not continue to monitor them to ensure they maintain this behaviour. If you work in a business like this you need to issue mandates about gloves, hairnets, and forbidding people from washing their hands on their shirts to prevent contamination.
Modernize The Restroom
With all the new technologies that exist now you shouldn’t have the same old toilets, faucets, and paper towel dispensers. They are unsafe and they make your business feel out of date.
Thanks to so many touch-free technologies, such as hands-free sinks, soap, towels and air dryers people can wash their hands without ever having to touch anything and risk contamination. Remember that the less surfaces a person comes into contact with in a bathroom setting the better. These touch-free technological advancements mean that restrooms are kept cleaner and they also make your business look more modern, give your customers a better experience, and will generate positive reviews for your business. You also can’t underestimate the kind of power a bathroom that looks sanitary has. To give you an example there was a Shell gas station that advertised itself as being cleaner than an apartment. Someone took a video of inside the bathroom and uploaded it to YouTube, where it was picked up by the media. Shell had decided to make the cleanliness of their bathrooms a priority and earned a reputation for being a great place to work and having excellent attention to detail.
Rethink How You Manage Employees
Many employers push the outdated notion that employees should tough it out and come to work when they are not feeling well. If your business is being manned by these employees then it will bring down productivity and increase the chances that other employees and even customers will have a similar issue. The problem of stress has also been shown to be connected to almost every health problem including stomach upsets and feelings of sadness. Employers need to work on creating a culture where employees are more relaxed so that they are less stressed and can stay healthy while possibly even learning new things like Microsoft skills. Remember that the less stressed out your employees are the more likely they are to stick to the hygiene procedures instead of just running out of the bathroom and back to work after finishing their business. Remember that many people can be affected by just one careless person.
A business culture that promotes employees toughing it out when not feeling well is nothing short of reckless and could even contribute to a potentially major health crisis. It is the job of a leader to be able to anticipate a crisis and act on this foresight in order to gain a competitive advantage and mitigate any potential damage. Both business and life are a game of inches; not just in respect to the growth of a business, but also all the other facets of the operation that could determine whether or not a business retains customers, is seen positively, or has people spread the good word.
We live in an age of social media now, meaning that the last thing a business could possibly want is for someone to have a bad experience and paint a damning picture of the business all over social media. These images and the commentary that go along with them can spread like virtual wildfire, which can have a dramatic effect on your business.