The common cold and seasonal flu can wreak havoc on employee productivity. For businesses, that translates into lost revenue because employees are out sick or don’t feel their best at work, and therefore are not up to the daily tasks their job might require.
Below are a few tips for keeping your office healthy during the flu season.
- Encourage employees to get a flu vaccine shot. This is the single best way to prevent the spread of flu. Note: be aware that certain people shouldn’t get flu shots including the very young or old and those with compromised immune systems.
- Make it easy for employees to do handwashing and hand sanitizing. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), hand washing is one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of many types of infection and illness in all settings—your workplace included. Bring in a couple inexpensive hand sanitizing stations for the office. Be sure your restrooms have a good supply of hand wash solution and paper towels.
- Encourage people to stay home if they have the flu. Despite the common concern many workers have of falling behind when not in the office, it is important to give employees a chance to get healthy. Let your team members know you’d rather have them miss a day or two than make the entire office sick. Consider finding ways that employees can do some of their work from home, if appropriate.
- Encourage employees to be flu-aware when using common areas. Today’s open offices provide more opportunities for sharing germs through open cubicle systems, break rooms, shared telephones, printers, and other facilities.
- Regularly check the flu tracking websites to know when flu season hits. Google Flu Tracker uses aggregated search data to estimate flu activity nationally, by state and for certain cities. The CDC’s flu page offers statistical tracking of weekly flu activity.
- Ask your janitorial service to help keep the workplace healthy with green cleaning practices. Many people assume “green” cleaning is about protecting the environment, but that’s just one benefit. A core concept of green cleaning is to clean for health rather than just for appearance. This may require periodic cleaning of surfaces and carpets that “look” clean but may still harbor dirt and pathogens. Green cleaning favors the use of microfiber cleaning cloths that pick up and hold dirt more effectively and the use of high-filtration vacuums that capture more dust and germs and prevent it from leaking back into the air.