Proper Hydration Ensures Safety, Boosts Productivity
Playing the percentages
Today we’re going to talk about the importance of hydration. No, not importance. That’s not a strong enough word. Let’s talk about the NECESSITY of hydration, and kick things off with some interesting facts and figures:
75% of your muscle mass is water.
85% of your blood is water.
80% of your skin’s mass is water.
90% of your lung mass is water.
75% of your brain is water.
24% of bone mass is water.
We are fluid creatures — to say the least! And every moment of every day we need to constantly replenish the precious H2O that makes us tick. This is especially vital when physical activity, like that which takes place on your company’s production floor, is in full swing as workers perspire and burn through their bodies’ water reserves.
Some more percentages
• To maintain peak levels of productivity, the human body needs full hydration. A mere 1% drop in hydration can lead to a 12% drop in productivity. A 3-4% drop in hydration can result in a productivity decline of 25% to 50%. That’s huge. And it directly affects your business’ bottom-line profitability.
• By the time an employee experiences the sensation of being “thirsty,” they may already be 2-3% dehydrated. As little as 3% dehydration can slow human reaction times to the same extent as a .08 Blood Alcohol Content (BAC). A driver is five times more likely to cause a car accident at .08 BAC. So, by the same math, a dehydrated worker is far more likely to have a work-related accident than his/her hydrated coworkers.
• A worker can lose 5-10% of the body’s water content during vigorous, physical labor.
• 75% of Americans suffer chronic dehydration every day. We simply do not drink enough water, and this seriously affects brain functions like short-term memory, focus, and visual motor tracking.
• A general recommendation is for people to drink between 8-10 glasses of water a day to remain hydrated. Naturally, the actual amount required can depend on a person’s body size, weight, overall health, the type of work they do, etc.
• Even though employers are required by law to provide employees with drinking water, a large percentage of employees don’t know about the importance of staying well-hydrated. An involved company with good leadership and good intentions can help that pattern.
How to increase employee productivity with hydration
First, make hydration your #1 employee priority. Workers with healthy, satisfied thirsts are more motivated, focused, productive, and safe. They’re also happier — proven fact. These are all good things, which is why every company should make hydration the cornerstone of its workplace wellness strategy.
It begins with education.
Surprisingly, most Americans don’t know just how critical hydration is in their lives and work. Tell them. Use this blog and all those facts at the beginning to get the ball rolling. Have a company-wide meeting to educate and motivate people on the subject.
• Consider giving everyone a high-quality water bottle with the company logo on it as a wellness token that’ll be used and appreciated.
• Develop a written policy and set hydration goals.
• Reward people’s required water intake with healthy rewards.
• Offer complimentary water so employees always have access to unlimited, cold water supplies.
• Encourage employees to consume water while on break – and enforce break times to ensure that they take the time to get the fluids they need.
• Train managers and supervisors to recognize the signs of dehydration and address employee needs when they arise.
• Be aware of environmental factors that can make dehydration more likely, like high temperature areas, extreme dust, strenuous work activity, etc.
• Integrate other healthy hydrating beverages into your company’s offerings, including fruit juices, Gatorade, and sparkling waters.
• Share the importance of limiting coffee to 4 cups a day since caffeine is a leading cause of dehydration.
The ideal hydration offerings...
Of course, good ol' water is the primary source of hydration to make readily accessible to your staff. The question is, what is the delivery method that promotes the most usage?
Is it a water fountain?
Water fountains are affordable and turn on with the rest of your operation’s plumbing. However, many people shy away from using public water fountains. The handles, spigots, and basins on water fountains can pose unsanitary health risks for your employees.
This can lead to more sick days, since these moist areas are breeding grounds for bacteria like E-coli, legionella, and coliform. Some surveys indicate that 76% of Americans will NOT drink from a public fountain. How can you expect your employees to practice proper hydration if most of them avoid fountains?
Are big jug dispensers the answer?
These are a popular solution, but they have drawbacks, too — like hidden costs, storage hassles, maintenance, and employees’ aversions to public dispensers. Often, jug-dispensed water offers no difference than tap water, yet comes at an additional cost.
What about bottled water?
Partnering with a beverage distributor like Bernick’s provides the highest-quality drinking water in personal-use bottles. Brands like Aquafina and others ensure that each bottle contains 100% purified, filtered water. Bottled water eliminates the potential for public-use bacterial contamination. And the best part is that when an employee cracks the lid on a bottle of water, they are likely to drink the entire bottle to avoid waste – since a bottle of water has a high perceived value.
Bernick’s can also work with businesses to bundle water with other sources of effective hydration, including fruit juices, flavored sparkling water, and sports drinks like Gatorade that are fortified with electrolytes to help replace what workers lose during periods of physical labor. All drinks can be made accessible through coolers, low- or zero-cost vending machines, company refrigerators in the break room, or even Bernick’s micro markets.
Providing branded bottled water and other beverages sends a message to employees that the business owners, managers, and supervisors truly care about their health and safety. It should never be viewed as an expense, but rather as an investment that pays dividends down the road in increased productivity, heightened focus, improved problem-solving abilities, reduced sick time, and happier, more collaborative employees.
As the summer heat rises this year and proper hydration becomes even more essential, take action to keep your staff healthy, and get as much productivity as possible from everyone.
You’ll be glad you did, and we can all drink to that.