Flu still going around the office? Don't let the beautiful Bay Area sunsets fool you; flu season is still here. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), flu infections rates peak between December and February; finally ebbing to a close in May. The flu can cost the United States an average of $71-$167 billion per year in healthcare costs and lost productivity. Those can be scary numbers! Thankfully, there are several things you can do to prevent a fearsome office flu outbreak.
Get a Flu Shot!
As always, the single most effective means of warding off the seasonal flu bug are vaccinations. Does your company offer on-site vaccinations? Yes? Take advantage of it! If not, try asking Human Resources to get an on-site vaccination clinic program started. If you don't have onsite vaccinations, what's the alternative? Use your personal insurance to see your physician or visit a drug store that offers vaccinations. Either way, be sure to encourage coworkers and your family to get vaccinated.
Encourage Responsible Hygiene
Promoting hygienic habits is a critical step in stopping the spread of flu germs at the workplace. Take some cues from OSHA's Quick Card to post or share guidelines for basic hygiene throughout your organization. Maybe inject a bit of humor when sharing so as to get everyone on board. At the most fundamental level, encourage the following:
Wash your hands with hot water and soap for 20 seconds, often.
Avoid touching your nose, mouth, or eyes.
Cover your nose and mouth when sneezing!
Use hand sanitizer or wash your hands every time you a cough, sneeze or blow your nose.
Use only your office equipment to avoid exposure.
Send Sick Employees Home!
Try as you may, a few of your sick coworkers will drag themselves to work. Let them know that it's OKAY to use their sick days to recover. Check the math: sending someone home is exponentially better than missing an entire department. If the work is mission critical, contain the spread by having them work remotely. Conversely, consider setting up temporary workstations to prevent exposure to coworkers.
Stock the office with sufficient supplies to strengthen the body's defenses, sanitize surfaces, and speed recovery. Consider the following: