Combatting Cold & Flu Season

Surveys have found that employees who come to work when sick can be incredibly costly. In an average year, it is estimated that the flu can cost businesses as much as $10 billion in lost productivity. The U.S Department of Labor estimates that the average employee will miss 2.8 days of work due to the flu- and those employees who come to the office while ill, increase lost work days from 10% to 30%.

Sick employees not only increase the chance of the rest of the office catching their illness but also have a negative impact on productivity. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that absenteeism costs employers $225.8 billion annually and according to the Harvard Business Review, ill employees coming to work cost employers 60% of the total cost of worker illness.

Given the increased costs, decreased productivity, and high likelihood of spreading sickness(es) throughout the office, it’s time to consider how to protect your employees during cold and flu season.

To prevent the spreading of flu and cold germs in your office, below are 5 ways to tackle germs:

1. Offer On-site Flu Shots- Vaccines are very important and providing on-site flu shots for employees is your first line of defense for combatting illness. By bringing the solution in-house, employees will be more likely to get vaccinated.  Also consider providing vouchers for dependents.

2. Provide Sanitation & Hygiene Products- Having sanitation and hygienic cleaning products at the office is key and easy.  If you store office supplies make sure to include disinfectant wipes, keyboard cleaners, tissues and hand sanitizer. These products can kill germs living on office surfaces, eliminate the spread of illness and/or germs.

3. Encourage Employees To Stay Home If They Are Sick- Employees come into work despite feeling unwell because they feel they have too much to do or feel another cannot cover for them for the day. Additionally, some employees come to work because they do not want to use sick or vacation time. These feelings can create a work culture where missing work due to sickness is unacceptable. Be sure to make clear to employees that when they don’t feel well they should stay home and take care of themselves.

4. Regular Office Cleanings- While hygienic products in the office is a good step, having people actually clean their workspace is equally as important. If you have a communal kitchen in the office, remind employees to wash communal dishes in hot, soapy water. Another way to encourage cleanliness is to host an office-wide cleaning hour where everyone cleans their desks and personal items. If you have a professional office cleaning team make sure they clean ALL communal areas such as kitchens, break-rooms, or supply rooms.

5. Printed Reminders- Sometimes employees need an extra nudge. Create small printed signs that remind employees to clean dishes in warm water, wipe down their desk and keyboards, or even to sneeze into their elbow versus their hands. Small reminders can go a long way in keeping an office healthy.

While cold and flu season are in full-swing you can implement these small changes in the office to limit the spread of germs.  Healthy is Happy!

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