The flu season is upon us. Illness in the workplace can cause major problems—missed deadlines, lost productivity, and therefore lost profit. When at work, we are in close proximity with our co-workers which encourages the spread of germs. Employers play an important role in preventing the spread of illness and ensuring employees stay healthy and productive. Here are a few tips to avoid an illness epidemic at your workplace:
- Handwashing. It seems elementary, but proper handwashing is the easiest way to prevent the spread of germs. The best practice is to scrub hands under water for 20 seconds. Post signage and reminders for employees to regularly wash their hands.
- Sanitizing. Hand sanitizer is a great alternative when hand washing isn’t available. Encourage employees to regularly utilize hand sanitizer, especially when leaving a work space. Provide sanitizers all throughout the workplace for easy accessibility and usage.
- Supplies. Make sure the workplace is stocked with sanitizers, paper towels, tissues, soap, and wipes. Our desks are some of the dirtiest places in the workplace. Make sure employees are equipped with the necessary cleaning supplies to wipe down their desk, keyboard, phone, and work surface. Discourage sharing of office supplies and pens during flu season.
- Sick Day Policy. Make sure employees are aware of the company sick day policy. If a sick employee comes to work, the spread of germs can be rampant. Encourage employees to stay home if they are sick. Employees may be hesitant to stay home because they need to get work done. Providing the option for ill employees to work from home can help to prevent the hesitation to stay home.
- Plan Ahead. Anticipate that sick days will happen. In order to plan ahead, cross-train employees to be able to cover for each other if someone is at home sick. Encourage employees who feel themselves getting sick to avoid close contact with others in break rooms or meetings.
- Flu Shot. Offer on-site flu vaccinations or provide information on community flu shot locations to encourage employees to prevent the flu at the beginning of the season.
There are many free materials available to educate employees on the dangers of workplace illness. Preventing an outbreak is much easier than reacting to one. The CDC offers great materials to print and distribute throughout the workplace. Download here: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/resource-center/freeresources/print/print-businesses.htm.