With cold and flu season upon us, the transfer of germs and illness in the workplace increases, so business owners need to take initiative in preventing the spread of illness.
Beginning in late November each year, the flu affects millions of us. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says this germy bug costs businesses nearly $10 billion in employee medical visits every year. Keep your employees healthy by maintaining a clean and productive work environment. The CDC has made it easier with a free employer tool kit, “Make It Your Business to Fight the Flu.”
Here are some tips to help protect employees and customers as much as possible:
- Acquire products that ward off germs. Hand sanitizers, tissues and disinfectants are all products that can aid employees in keeping the workspace clean. Make them readily available throughout your workspaces.
- Advise employees to stay home. While sick employees may deem it necessary to attend work, their presence will only expose healthy employees to contagions. If employees are sick, they should stay home for at least 24 hours after they no longer show symptoms. Consider creating a leave policy that allows employees to work from home should they (or their children) fall ill.
- Enforce good hygiene in the work place. Institute the cleaning of shared equipment such as phones and computers, and wipe down common areas with disinfectant regularly. Remind employees of the importance of washing their hands, as well as covering their mouth when sneezing and/or coughing. Encourage them to “sneeze in your sleeve,” rather than into their hand, to reduce the spread of germs.
- Promote flu shots. Search for on-site flu shots through your local hospital, retail pharmacy or other health care provider, or consider reimbursing some or all of the cost for employees to receive the shot on their own.
- Hold a health fair. Contact your local hospital to see if they provide health fairs for employers. If your business isn’t large enough, you can possibly team up with others in your building, office park or neighborhood. If you are in a retail location, you can invite the community, as well. You can also contract the coordination of an on-site health fair with a company specializing in the service.
- Be the example. It is important for the employer to follow the same advice being given to the employees. As the boss, it may seem impossible to take a sick day, but it is just as important for you to stay home and keep your germs out of the office.