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Your Office Flu Prevention Toolkit

Sick days and lost productivity cost businesses like yours $7 billion every year. And with as much as 20% of the American population getting the flu every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it’s in your best interest to develop an office flu prevention strategy to minimize this illness’s effect on your business.

To start that effort, we suggest you focus on education and preparation. You can create an office flu prevention toolkit that informs your employees about the flu at work and advises them how to avoid picking up germs.

Here are some of the tools you might want to include in your office’s flu prevention toolkit.

Tool 1: Health Newsletters, Brochures & Signs

Providing employees with printed brochures or newsletters will help them be prepared for the season. Include the following information to help educate your employees as well as decrease anxiety:

  • A list of flu symptoms to watch for
  • Recommendations for when to seek medical attention
  • Tips for preventing the spread of flu
  • The truth about flu myths to reduce panic in case of an outbreak

In addition to handing out this information, you can prominently post it in your office along with reminders for hand washing, which is another powerful tool in preventing the spread of the flu. You can buy such safety signs or create your own and laminate them for durability.

Tool 2: Flu Prevention Policies

It's impossible to protect all your employees from seasonal influenza, but you can implement policies relating to symptoms, treatment and prevention.

For example, sick employees shouldn’t be encouraged to come to work; an employee with flu symptoms could be contagious. Instead, encourage staff to stay home and seek medical attention, either by allowing the time off or letting employees work from home, if possible. It’s better to prevent the spread of flu at work and lose one employee's productive hours than it is to lose half of your company's hours.

Tool 3: Flu Vaccinations

According to the CDC, the best way to avoid a bout of seasonal flu is to be vaccinated. If possible, work with a local health clinic or your insurance provider to offer a flu vaccine clinic during work hours.

If you can't offer in-office vaccinations, at least let your team know the basics about the flu vaccine, including:

  • The benefits of a flu shot
  • Reminders about who should get vaccinated
  • Information about local free flu shot clinics

Tool 4: Flu Prevention Supplies

Outfit bathrooms, workstations and breakrooms with flu prevention supplies — such as tissues, disinfectants and over-the-counter medicines — and encourage employees to use them. You might consider providing each room, department or group of desks with hand sanitizer and antibacterial wipes. If your breakroom does not have a dishwasher, where plates and utensils can be sterilized, provide disposable plates and cups to prevent the accumulation of germs.

Post signs in all bathrooms and breakrooms to remind employees to wash their hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds.

In addition, you can make office clean-up a team effort: Each department can be assigned a day of the week, with staff members spending a few minutes at the beginning or end of each day wiping down copy machines, light switches and other commonly handled equipment.

Keep Prevention Measures Rational

It’s important you don't go overboard with your office flu prevention measures. For example, while encouraging employees to wear surgical masks in the office may reduce the spread of germs, it could also make many team members uncomfortable and foster an environment of paranoia.

Instead, consider education your most powerful ally in the fight against the spread of flu at work. Encourage your staff to be vaccinated, provide information about symptoms and create sick leave policies that allow individuals to stay home when ill.

Provide the right tools and you’ll maintain a stable workforce — even when influenza is knocking at your door.

 

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