Wellness Tips to Fight Colds and the Flu in the Workplace
March 6, 2020
When you have a cold or the flu, your personal to-do list takes a back seat until your health returns. The same thing happens on a much larger scale when cold and flu season hits the workplace. In fact, Flu.gov estimates the flu virus alone can cause businesses to lose nearly $7 billion annually in sick days and lost productivity.
With a cold and flu season that usually runs from the fall through the spring (peaking in January and February), an estimated 5 to 20 percent of adults can potentially catch the flu each year. And although the cold virus is more common in the winter months, you can catch a cold at any time of the year. Consider these four tips to help kick the cold & flu this season by being prepared for it in the workplace.
According to Flu.gov, the best way to prevent seasonal flu is to get vaccinated every year. The flu virus continuously mutates, meaning the vaccines must adapt as well. Recommend that your employees get vaccinated — and early on during the season — to help prevent the flu’s impact on your workplace. You can educate workers about how vaccinations work and even offer onsite vaccinations during health education events. If your company can’t offer onsite events, you can still prepare health education information with online sources and encourage employees to get vaccinated at local clinics.
Cold and flu viruses can be transferred through the air and can also live on surfaces. Although many people assume that workplace bathrooms are infection hot spots, studies show there are actually more germs on office surfaces such as desktops, copy machines and elevator buttons simply because they are not cleaned as often. To reduce the spread of the cold and flu, the CDC recommends promoting regular hand-washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Where there is no access to running water, consider placing hand sanitizers. Also, consider keeping a regular supply of disinfecting wipes or spray on hand sanitizer and use them to clean office surfaces daily.
Adopting a healthy lifestyle and taking preventive measures throughout the year can go a long way in minimizing cold and flu infections during the winter months. Harvard Medical School recommends adopting a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables and low in refined grains and sugar along with regular exercise as a way to boost your immune system. Consider providing healthy, seasonal fruits and snacks in the office break room throughout the year as an incentive to eat better, and in turn, help keep your collective immune systems ready to fight off infection when cold and flu season hits.
Take Time Off
Even if you checked off everything on your cold and flu checklist, chances are, your business will still be affected by employees that fall ill. When an employee is sick, you can curb the spread of infection and encourage the employee to stay at home until he or she feels 100 percent. In fact, the CDC recommends employees stay at home for at least 24 hours after their fever goes down. One employee calling in sick for a few days is a much better scenario than an office full of under-the-weather employees.
For the latest updates on health protection check with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
About the Author
Maya Black is a small business owner with over 10 years of experience writing and editing business and finance topics. She’s been featured in various top publications including USA Today and Yahoo Finance.
All content provided herein is for educational purposes only. It is provided “as is” and neither the author nor Office Depot, Inc. warrant the accuracy of the information provided, nor do they assume any responsibility for errors, omissions or contrary interpretation of the subject matter herein.
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