Sniffling, coughing, hundred degree fevers…that’s right folks, flu season is upon us. But no need to worry: there are plenty of things your office can do to protect your employees (and yourselves) from catching the dreaded influenza. We’ve put together a list of 5 ways to prevent the flu from spreading at your office.
Give Flu Shots At Work
One of the easiest ways to prevent the flu–and its consequent spread throughout your workplace–is vaccination. In fact, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) cites vaccination as the number one prevention step. However, many employees simply don’t have the time to get vaccinated. Between work hours and out-of-office commitments, going to get a vaccine can be a major inconvenience.
So why not make it a little easier for your employees? Many organizations now host on-site vaccination clinics, allowing employees to get vaccinated without sacrificing their free time. You can contact your local pharmacy or community vaccinators to come to your workplace and administer the vaccines on site.
Make it Easy for Employees to Get Off-Site Shots
If having on-site vaccinations isn’t an option for you, do your best to make it easy for employees to get their flu shots elsewhere in the community.
- Make sure that flu shots are covered by your employees’ health plans. While there are options for free vaccinations at certain clinics, it’s never a bad idea to ensure your employees are fully covered when possible. Zenefits can help with this!
- Let employees know when and where they can get vaccines in the community. Get a list of all local vaccination sites and send it out to your employees, or print out a map and post it in the office kitchen or breakroom.
- Be flexible. You know your employees are busy. You’re busy too, so consider allowing your employees to leave work briefly to get a flu shot. If it prevents the flu from spreading around your office (and productivity subsequently crashing), you’ll be glad you did.
Embrace Basic Hygiene (But Not Sick Coworkers)
It might sound simple, but maintaining basic hygiene practices is one of the most important steps to stop the spread of flu. Post or send around a guide of these Occupational Safety and Health Administration suggestions for preventing sickness:
- Wash your hands often. And don’t skip the soap!
- Try not to touch your nose, mouth, or eyes.
- Cover your coughs and sneezes. Cover your face with your upper sleeve or a tissue–and be sure to throw the tissue out immediately.
- Use hand sanitizer or wash your hands every time you cough, sneeze, or blow your nose.
- Avoid shaking hands or close contact with others during flu season.
- Avoid using other employees’ equipment like phones, computers, headsets, etc.
Keep the Flu Out–Literally
If you don’t want the flu to spread, don’t let it into the office in the first place. Encourage your employees to use their sick days or work from home if they have the flu. Losing one employee for a day or two can save you from losing multiple employees for weeks.
If an employee absolutely has to come into work while sick, make sure they don’t sit in densely populated areas. You don’t need to go as far as establishing a quarantine, but keeping sick employees away from their desks can avoid passing the flu on to their coworkers.
Stock the Office
When flu season hits, make sure your office has all the supplies needed to protect your employees. For example:
- Put hand sanitizer by the doors and in high-contact areas: Providing hand sanitizer at convenient locations throughout the office will encourage employees to keep their hands clean at all times.
- Keep items in the kitchen that prevent sickness: Orange juice, apples, Emergen-C, and tea can help employees help themselves.
Roughly 5-20% of US residents get the flu each year–but this doesn’t have to include your employees. Taking the appropriate measures to prevent the flu in your office will keep your workforce healthy and productive.
This article was originally published on October 15th, 2015.