Asking staff to regularly use alcohol-based hand disinfectants throughout the working day could cut sick days significantly, research suggests.
Staff absences due to coughs, colds and diarrhoea were lower amongst employees who used alcohol-based hand gels, the study published in open access journal BMC Infectious Diseases showed.
A total of 129 people were divided into two groups for the German study, with the control group asked to continue their usual hand-washing routines, while the other group was told to use a hand disinfectant at least five times during the working day, particularly after blowing their nose or using the toilet.
Those who washed their hands with the disinfectant were not only less likely to be off sick, but also showed fewer symptoms of illness when they were at work, meaning productivity was also likely to be higher.
Lead author Nils-Olaf Hübner, of the Institute of Hygiene and Environmental Medicine in Greifswald, said: "Hand disinfection can easily be introduced and maintained as part of the daily hand hygiene, acting as an interesting and cost-efficient method of improving workforce health and effectiveness".