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Assume this question was posed to you today. How can you prevent getting flu at work? What would be your immediate answer? The following revelation may be shocking but it’s true. In the US, flu accounts for more than 150,000 hospitalizations. What’s more shocking is that flu can actually cause death. Protect yourself from flu with the steps below.
Cold and Flu Season Tips for the Office
If you’re sick and have to be in the office, you know that it can be one of the most annoying and uncomfortable feelings you’ll ever experience. The situation is worse for the employers and supervisors too especially when they realize that normal operations in the office have stalled because one staff got sick and transmitted the flu to almost all of the other employees.
Of course, employers are different and have varying means. This is to mean that your employer may not afford to offer you a paid time off when you get sick or even health insurance cover. This is where it becomes extremely necessary for each staff to mind their own health and be mindful of their colleagues too. Here are some tips to ensure that employees remain healthy or work from home when they contract the flu.
Don’t Ask for the Doctor’s Note
If your company doesn’t provide paid sick leave, then you can be sure that none of your sick employees will want to stay at home regardless of the severity of the sickness. Try to be accommodative and humane enough to empathize with your sick employees. By giving them paid sick leave, they’ll be more comfortable staying at home for a few days as the symptoms subside and they become less contagious.
When you give these leaves, don’t insist on getting the doctor’s note. It’s true that as an employer you anticipate for brighter days when each employee is in perfect health and the business operations are running smoothly. But as experts say, requiring that your employees produce a doctor’s note especially on short notice can be unfair.
Sick Employees can Work from Home
Unlike in the past, technology has advanced and there are numerous working opportunities that both employers and employees can adopt for each other’s benefit especially when one gets sick. As an employer, you can make life easier for everyone else by allowing a sick employee to work from home.
But still some workplaces are yet to embrace remote working but if yours has already, allowing your employees to work from home can be the best solution to protect other employees from getting sick.
Collaborate with Health Practitioners to have Your Staffs Vaccinated at Work
Where possible, you can, get your staff vaccinated against the flu at work. Some of the companies in the US are already doing this and if studies are anything to go by, they’re making huge savings and benefiting from employees enhanced output. Some of the tangible benefits include; staffs hardly call in sick or even ask for one-off leaves to attend hospital appointments.
Employees are more vibrant and happier at the workplace which means the company is benefiting from their consistent productivity. According to studies, many employees will be lax to attend to hospital appointments especially if they’re scheduled in the middle of the day. With this plan, you can have more of your employees vaccinated annually. There are various health providers you can partner with for these services regardless of the size of your business.
Encourage Precautionary Treatment
When you get sick, it’s always good to seek help from your doctor. However, as an employer, you can encourage your employees to seek precautionary treatment throughout the year as a way of maintaining healthy people around the workplace. Some of these precautionary measures include; getting flu shot each year and getting vaccinated before traveling for a work-related trip.
The best thing about these precautionary measures is that your employees will avoid expensive medical treatments in the future. What’s more, your business will also gain from consistent productivity which is often compromised when your employees are away on sick leave or working when sick.
Have a Sufficient Supply of Health Essentials
Maintain a sufficient supply of health essentials such as wet wipes, hand sanitizer, immune boosting drinks and foods as well as antiseptic tools. By so doing you aren’t just encouraging your employees to maintain healthy practices, but you’re also saving the company from frequent absenteeism from sick employees.
Remember to ask your employees to take some days off when they’re sick. This way, you cut down the risk of the sick employees spreading flu amongst themselves, making everyone sick, and having an unproductive company.
Office Etiquette During Cold and Flu Season
How have you designed your workplace? If your employees work close to each other, you can be sure that they’re more at risk of contracting diseases. Perhaps you’re wondering why. According to the center for disease control, people who’ve contracted the flu will spread it to others up to approximately six feet apart, mostly through droplets which occur when they talk, sneeze, or cough.
You can contract the flu by touching an object or surfaces where the virus is present then touching your nose or even mouth. What’s the distance between you and your colleague in the office? How many surfaces or even objects do you touch in a day? Do you understand that these could be highly contaminated with the flu causing virus?
If you answered any of these questions in the affirmative, you need to understand the following steps which can help you minimize the risk of either contracting or even spreading the flu.
Have all Commonly Touched Surfaces Cleaned and Disinfected Thoroughly
Some of the commonly touched surfaces in your office include door handles and sink faucets. Viruses on these surfaces will spread fast enough to make everyone sick. Studies suggest that using disinfectant wipes to clean surfaces can minimize surface contamination. You don’t have to do it on your own.
There are many professional cleaning companies which can help you maintain a clean and sanitized environment. The advantages of using professional cleaners are immense. By dealing with professionals, you’ll understand that they’re experienced from working with various companies.
What’s more, they’ll study your workplace and identify the pain points. Eventually, they’ll have in place the right measures aimed at combating the spread of contaminants and you’ll notice a huge improvement in the number of employees from your establishment getting sick.
Studies conducted in Arizona showed that having the wash, wipe, and sanitize policy in place in your workplace minimizes the potential of contracting a common cold or the flu by a massive 80%. What’s more encouraging is the fact that it can cut down the magnitude of contaminated viruses by 62%.
Go For Vaccination
The center for disease control says that you should get an annual flu vaccine which you can receive through a nasal spray or a flu shot. This according to the organization is one of the best ways of cutting down your risk of contracting the flu and spreading it over to other people in the office.
Wash Your Hands Regularly
The idea of washing hands has recently gained momentum with various organizations advocating for it. You may want to adopt this for your workplace as well. While this may seem like a matter of common sense, reminding your employees to wash their hands after using the washrooms and before eating never broke anyone’s bones.
Be sure to educate them about the importance of drying their hands using clean towels. Of course, you can’t wash your hands all the time and sometimes you’ll have limited to no access to the hand washing water. This is where a hand sanitizer comes in. a small bottle of hand sanitizer goes helps you keep germs at bay.
If Your Colleagues are Getting Sick, Take Action Early in Advance
Do you know what the bitter reality is? It’s the fact that many healthy adults can infect their colleagues as early as a day before they start experiencing the symptoms. There’s worse news. The already infected adults will remain highly contagious up to 7 days after getting sick.
It’s sad that you can start infecting others even before you discover that you’re sick. Develop a routine of washing your hands thoroughly, maintaining clean surroundings at your workplace, disinfecting surfaces at your workplace, and using hand sanitizer always.
Do Everything You Can to Prevent Germs from Spreading
If you have already experiencing flu-related symptoms, be disciplined enough to; cover your mouth and nose with a tissue every time you sneeze and dispose of it. Still, you want to use only an antiviral tissue because flu and common cold viruses can survive on regular tissue for 24 hours.
Another method you can adapt to stop germs from spreading is by sneezing or coughing into your elbow. According to experts, you can spread approximately 3,000 communicable droplets in the air with a single sneeze at over 100 mph. And this is why you should cover your mouth when sneezing.
Wash the Cup You Use in the Office with Hot Water and Soap
When your colleagues start contracting flu, you should take all the necessary measures to stay on the safe side. If you use shared cups in the office, you may want to put your cup aside or wash it yourself to ensure that it’s thoroughly clean. A casual rinse will not do you any good. It takes little effort to wash your cups and glasses thoroughly but it saves you from severe flu symptoms.
Restrict Co-worker Interactions
Shaking hands is a common practice among employees. But have you ever asked yourself how hygienic it is? Of course, some people will be offended if they stretch their hand towards you and you don’t shake their hands in return. The good thing is, you are not only doing it for your own good but for theirs too.
The sooner they realize that, the better they’ll translate the entire act. They may even want to follow suit. Again, if you can, avoid casual conversations with your colleagues during the flu season. If you notice a colleague showing signs of the flu, you can ask them to go home in a polite manner. If they’re mindful of others then they’ll oblige without feeling offended.
Avoid the Office Kitchen
If you didn’t know, the kitchen n your office can be highly infested with the flu causing virus. It’s common practice to share utensils in the office and if this is the case in your office, it’s time you stopped it especially during flu season. You can opt to use disposable utensils until the season is over.
But sometimes these may not be available in your office. If they aren’t, it doesn’t mean that you should compromise your health. You can have a policy in the workplace where every employee washes the utensils they use thoroughly. Better still, you can allocate each employee personal utensils to avoid unnecessary contamination.
Part of being healthy and not contracting the flu even when everyone around you is contracting it is leading a healthy lifestyle. Get sufficient sleep, drink lots of healthy fluids, eat a well-balanced meal, and remember to take in your daily portion of fruits. This way, you’ll have a strong unbeatable immune system which can’t be affected by a flu virus.