ExecutiveChronicles | Prevent the Spread of Colds and Flu in Your Office This Winter | Millions of people catch a common cold or flu – it happens every year. It’s no secret that everyone dreads cold and flu season in the workplace. But it’s not only getting sick that employers have to worry about.
As sick days pile up during cold and flu season, it costs the U.S. economy around $40 billion per year – productivity goes down, overheads go up.
Although catching a cold is a simple fact of life, flu season affects every business’ bottom line. Here’s what you can do to protect your employees’ health and prevent the spread of viruses this winter.
Maintain a Hygienic Workplace
Whether it’s flu season or not, your workplace should always be clean and hygienic – this includes all surfaces and the general air quality.
Call a Certified HVAC and Air Duct Cleaning company to deep clean your HVAC at regular intervals to ensure your AC is doing its job properly. Other major germ hotspots to focus on are break areas, copiers, desks, cubicles, and other high-traffic areas.
Viruses lurking on shared surfaces like door handles and copiers can infect 40-60% of an entire workforce in just 4 hours. Practicing good office hygiene and wiping everything down with disinfectant can dramatically reduce the risk of spreading viruses.
Promote Hygiene Etiquette
Everyone in the office should do their part to prevent the spread of colds and flu by practicing good office hygiene etiquette.
Good practices include washing your hands with an alcohol-based sanitizer frequently and avoiding touching your face. Coffee mugs and water bottles should also be rinsed in hot soapy water every day, and anyone who uses tissues should dispose of them immediately.
Educational pamphlets can be distributed among workers and used to promote respiratory hygiene etiquette – such as covering the mouth with a tissue when sneezing or having a coughing fit.
Cold and Flu Vaccination Programs
Alongside education about preventing transmission and the symptoms and signs of colds and flu, many workplaces also offer annual vaccines to safeguard their employees against viruses.
Although cold and flu vaccines can never protect everyone against every new strain, they do provide protection against the most common ones. Employers should consider hosting on-site flu vaccine clinics or implementing a free vaccination program to ensure everyone has access.
Enforce a Stay-at-Home Policy
One of the most important measures to take during cold and flu season is to implement a stay-at-home policy for employees who feel sick – people who stay at home instead of going into the office are far less likely to infect the people around them.
Employees who start to feel any cold or flu symptoms should go home to rest and recuperate as early as possible and only return to work when the chance of transmitting the virus to others has passed.
Employers can place signs in strategic and high-traffic places to remind employees of this policy and other workplace hygiene practices, like reminders for workers to wash their hands at entrances, bathrooms, and stairwells.
Distributing fact sheets about how easily colds and flu are transmitted and how employees can prevent it can also be helpful during cold and flu season.