Each year, the CDC estimates that U.S. employees miss an average of 17 million workdays and companies lose an estimated $7 billion in sick days and lost productivity on account of the flu. How can you ensure your workplace is ramped up for flu season?
- Encourage employees to get a flu shot. Whether you host an on-site flu clinic or promote going to the doctor’s office, encourage employees to proactively get vaccinated each year. You may even consider offering an incentive to employees who get vaccinated.
When is it too late to get a flu shot? While the CDC recommends flu shots to be administered by the end of October, flu season typically peaks by January or February and goes all the way through May. Even if it’s late in the year, it’s still worth the benefits of getting the vaccination.
- Promote good personal hygiene. Most experts believe flu viruses spread mainly when contagious people cough, sneeze or talk. To minimize the spread of flu, encourage employees to:
- Wash their hands frequently
- Cough or sneeze into something (arm, shirt, tissue) other than thin air
- Avoid shaking hands
- Dispose of used tissues
- Touch surfaces like elevator buttons, water fountains, and bathroom doors with something other than their hands
Per the CDC, people with flu are most contagious in the first 3-4 days after their illness begins, although some people may infect others with the flu before ever having any symptoms. Play it safe and follow good hygiene practices year-round.
- Maintain a healthy supply of tissues, soap and hand sanitizer at work. (See tip #2.)
- Send (or keep) employees home if they’re sick. If you have an employee that calls in sick, particularly with flu-like symptoms (fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, headache, body aches, chills), encourage that person to stay home.
- Review (or implement) your paid sick leave policy. Employees may not want to stay home if it means a reduction in pay. Providing a paid sick leave policy (or general PTO plan) will encourage your sick employees to keep their germs at home, knowing they won’t be penalized for doing so.
- Consider offering work-from-home options. Find ways to provide access to remote-working employees so they can work when recovering from the flu without spreading fear (or germs) to your staff. Encourage managers to postpone meetings or conduct them via conference calls if sick employees need to participate.
For more information on how to keep your workplace healthy this flu season, please contact our HR experts at HR@stratus.hr.