As the winter months approach, office sickness can spread quickly—especially if you’re not taking precautions to fight the flu. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the flu costs the United States about $10.4 billion annually in direct costs for outpatient visits and hospitalizations, which affects small businesses and employers too.
For employees unwilling or unable to get vaccinated, here are some methods for fighting office sickness besides the flu shot that can help boost workplace productivity and your bottom line.
Allow Employees to Work From Home
Let employees work from home when they’re feeling under the weather. Make it clear to your staff that working remotely is acceptable, as long as they meet workplace productivity standards. Encourage them to use paid sick days if they’re too ill to work from home. Keeping sick employees out of the office can drastically reduce the spread of the flu and other sicknesses.
Stock Up on Hand Sanitizer
Provide alcohol-based hand sanitizer for employees to use to ward off the flu virus. Place large bottles of hand sanitizer strategically throughout the office, especially in places where employees touch door handles or other shared items.
Promote Workplace Wellness
Believe it or not, encouraging workplace wellness is a key component of fighting the flu. Harvard Medical School says that adopting healthy lifestyle habits is the single best step employees can take toward keeping their immune systems strong. These habits include eating lots of fruits and vegetables, exercising regularly, limiting or avoiding alcohol, maintaining a healthy weight, getting adequate sleep and not smoking. Immune-boosting supplements, such as vitamin C, vitamin E and probiotics, may help too.
If you don’t already have one in place, consider implementing a workplace wellness program to promote employee health.
Don’t Crowd Office Workspaces
Place desks in strategic places to reduce the spread of the flu and other illnesses. Make sure employees’ workstations aren’t right next to each other, and use partitions whenever possible to help prevent the flu virus from spreading through airborne droplets via employees talking, sneezing and coughing.
Spread Information on Common Flu Symptoms
Using signs, fliers and newsletters, you can easily share flu signs and symptoms with your employees. Armed with this information, they can better determine when they should stay home to avoid spreading the illness to other employees.
Some common flu symptoms to share include:
- Aching muscles.
- Fever of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.
- Dry cough.
- Nasal congestion.
- Sore throat.
While an all-hands-on-deck approach might sound like the best business model, it only works if your employees are healthy and energized. One sick worker could bring down the entire ship, and that’s the last thing you need when juggling holiday vacations. Being proactive with preventative measures and offering scheduling flexibility can help keep your office functioning during the flu’s heyday.
With United Concordia Dental’s Employer Toolkit, running your small business gets a whole lot easier. With expert guidance on benefits to educational newsletters, this resource has everything you’ll need to keep your office in good health.