Just a few days ago the CDC issued a warning that flu season – which usually begins in earnest in October and peaks in February – seems to be arriving early in 2019 and that this year's strains may be particularly virulent.
That's right, the coughing, sniffling fever filled season is coming, and for many companies that means a drop in productivity as employees begin to succumb, one by one.
There are however, a number of things employers can do to not only prevent revenue sapping scenario that but also help employees keep themselves healthier. Here's a look at some of the most effective.
Offer Flu Shots
According to the CDC vaccination is the number one step that anyone can take to prevent flu and to prevent its spread in the workplace. However, many people skip that important step as they simply don't have time. Between their work commitments and their busy lives out of the office trying to fit a vaccine in is hard.
Employers can help solve that problem by bringing flu shots to their employees. Many organizations will host on-site vaccination clinics. Contact your company's health care provider to find out what options may be available to you.
Make It Easier for Your Employees to Get Off Site Vaccines
If onsite flu vaccinations are not an option for your company then ensure that you make it as easy as possible for your employees to get one offsite:
- Make sure that flu shots are covered by your employees’ health plans. While there are options for free vaccinations at certain clinics, it’s never a bad idea to ensure your employees are fully covered when possible.
- Let employees know when and where they can get vaccines in the community. Get a list of all local vaccination sites and send it out to your employees, or print out a map and post it in the office kitchen or breakroom.
- Be flexible. You know your employees are busy. You’re busy too, so consider allowing your employees to leave work briefly to get a flu shot. If it prevents the flu from spreading around your office (and productivity subsequently crashing), you’ll be glad you did.
Encourage Basic Hygiene
It might sound simple, but maintaining basic hygiene practices is one of the most important steps to stop the spread of flu. Post or send around a guide of these Occupational Safety and Health Administration suggestions for preventing flu:
- Wash your hands often, with soap.
- Try not to touch your nose, mouth, or eyes.
- Cover your coughs and sneezes. Cover your face with your upper sleeve or a tissue–and be sure to throw the tissue out immediately.
- Avoid shaking hands or close contact with others during flu season.
- Avoid using other employees’ equipment like phones, computers, headsets, etc.
Keep the Flu Out–Literally
If you don’t want the flu to spread, don’t let it into the office in the first place. Encourage employees to use their sick days or work from home if they have the flu. Losing one employee for a day or two can save you from losing multiple employees for weeks.
Stock the Office
When flu season hits, make sure your office has all the supplies needed to protect your employees. For example, put hand sanitizer by the doors and in high-contact areas and keep a stock of flu fighting foods – things like orange juice, apples, and green tea and encourage employees to help themselves.