It’s here. It’s the time of the year when flu season hits and people are more susceptible to getting sick. In fact, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports that, “Flu activity typically peaks between December and February.”
According to research found on WebMD’s website, “5 percent to 20 percent of the U.S. population will get the flu on average, each year. Furthermore, 200,000 Americans are hospitalized each year because of problems with the illness.”
This can definitely be problematic for your business, and it’s important that you follow a few tips for preventing germs in the workplace.
Encourage Employees to Get Vaccinated
As the old saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. One of the best ways to prevent the flu from plaguing your workplace is to encourage your employees to receive their flu vaccinations before the onset of flu season. You may even want to cover the cost of this yourself because you’re likely to save money in the long run considering you’re less likely to encounter excessive absenteeism due to sick employees.
Create Hand Washing Policies
You can do yourself a big favor by making it mandatory for employees to wash their hands whenever they’re in the restroom. Ideally, they’ll wash with hot water and plenty of lather for about 20 seconds. This simple act can be huge for minimizing the spreading of germs.
You should also advise them to wash their hands prior to eating and after sneezing, coughing and so on. Make this part of your company’s policy in your handbook if you need to.
Provide Hand Sanitizer
Although not quite as effective as hand washing, using hand sanitizer throughout the day can kill off the majority of germs. When sinks aren’t readily available, it’s your next best option. Ideally, you’ll provide each employee with a bottle of hand sanitizer and disperse bottles at different sections throughout your workplace. That way your employees can sanitize their hands often.
Enforce Sick Days
Here’s the scenario. One of your employees comes down with the flu and is highly contagious. However, you need the manpower, or they decide to stick it out and keep working as usual. They inevitably end up spreading their germs to your other employees, and all of a sudden half of your workforce is sick with the flu.
Although it’s often easier said than done for small businesses, it’s really important that you enforce sick days and ensure that employees with a legitimate illness stay home until they recover. It’s better to be a little low on manpower for a day or two rather than having most of your staff sick.
If this is an issue, you may want to consider partnering with a staffing firm who can provide you with temporary help when needed.
The flu/illness and preventing germs in the workplace should be taken seriously. Without proper prevention, they can bring your business’s operations to a screeching halt and potentially hurt your profitability. Proactive measures can greatly reduce or even eliminate illness throughout your workplace.