Is Your Workplace Prepared for Cold & Flu Season?
By: Erin Willmann, AAIM Employers’ Association
Do colds and the flu spread through your organization quicker than an all-office memo? The flu cost U.S. employers over $21 billion in lost productivity during the 2017–2018 flu season, according to an estimate from Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc. As an employer, you play a big role in keeping your staff healthy during flu season.
The practices you put in place for office cleaning and workplace hygiene will be crucial to keeping your staff healthy. While no office is ever truly “flu-proof,” a proactive approach to cleaning and hygiene will dramatically reduce the risk of an office-wide case of the flu.
Here are some strategies to keep you and your workforce healthy during this dreaded season:
Get the Flu Shot
The best way to protect yourself from catching the flu in the workplace is to get a flu vaccine every year. Experts estimate that getting the flu vaccine can lower your risk of being hospitalized from the flu by as much as 40%.
Prevent the spread of infection at work.
- Wash your hands – Our hands are constantly being contaminated through interactions with co-workers, eating, touching shared surfaces and equipment. Use soap and water to wash your hands frequently throughout the day. If your organization does not have hand sanitizer readily available, it can be helpful to carry a pocket-sized sanitizer with you.
- Clean shared surfaces with disinfectant – Wipe down shared surfaces like doorknobs, keyboards and phones with a disinfectant wipe or spray.
- Avoid shaking hands – Although this is a common greeting, it’s not the most sanitary (particularly during flu season). Since most healthy adults can infect others before their own symptoms develop, you could be passing the flu onto someone else without even realizing you have the flu yet.
Make sure sick employees stay home.
When we are in our work spaces – whether it be an office, cubicle, classroom or factory, we’re in very close proximity to our coworkers. That’s why prevention is so important. Many employees don’t feel comfortable using their sick days and will try to “tough it out,” but it’s your job as a leader to make sure employees know they should stay home when they’re contagious.
Make It Your Business to Fight the Flu
Workplaces can be a breeding ground for contagious diseases like the flu, especially with the of open floor plans, shared devices and workers who fear repercussions if they miss work. Employers have a real opportunity to influence the health & wellness of their employees through a proactive approach.
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