A study conducted by Walgreens in 2011 found the flu caused a loss of 100 million workdays during influenza season the previous year. Not only can an internal flu epidemic at your company cause diminished employee productivity, it can result in lost wages as workers take advantage of paid sick days to recover from their illnesses. Here are three things you can do to reduce the spread of the flu at your company this season.
Vaccinations have gotten a bad rep in the last decade, largely due to an erroneous connection to autism. In actuality, vaccinations do not cause autism and can be effective at preventing people from becoming infected with various diseases, including influenza. The Center for Disease Control reports the flu vaccine can reduce the risk of getting the disease by 50 to 60 percent. Additionally, having the majority of your employees vaccinated can provide herd immunity that will protect vulnerable people who can't be vaccinated due to medical issues or age.
There are a couple of things you can do to encourage employees to get vaccinated. You can provide an onsite clinic where workers can go to get flu shots. Many times employees don't get vaccinated because other obligations—such as family or second jobs—take up their free time. Having a doctor or nurse practitioner come to your company to give employees shots can make it easier for them to get it done.
Another thing you can do is provide an incentive for employees to get vaccinated. For instance, you can offer a small monetary reward, such as a gift certificate to a popular coffee shop or an actual cash bonus. You can also offer to reimburse workers for the cost of vaccinations if the employees' health insurance doesn't cover it. Considering how much money you'll save in reduced employee absenteeism, the price of vaccinating employees may be minuscule in comparison.
Encourage Enhanced Hygiene
Basic hygiene, such as frequent hand washing and using tissues when sneezing, can reduce people's risk of getting and passing the flu. In a shared space like an office, however, a higher level of hygiene may be required to keep people from sharing this communicable disease.
For example, if employees share desks, it's a good idea to have disinfectant wipes close by that workers can use to clean phone headsets, computer keyboards, and other communal equipment. As excessive as it may seem, encouraging employees to stick to using one pen/pencil or cleaning writing utensils between uses can also reduce the spread of germs, particularly if you have employees who like to chew on their writing instruments.
Other things you can do:
- Distribute hand sanitizer
- Make sure there's an adequate supply of tissues around
- Increase the frequency the office fridge is cleaned out
- Have dishes and silverware cleaned in a dishwasher rather than by hand; a hot water cycle or heated drying cycle will help kill germs
Spring for Nightly Office Cleaning
If your office doesn't already use the services of a cleaning company, contracting with a local company for flu season can help reduce the transmission of germs. These professionals can deep clean the space and get areas or items that may be missed by employees, such as chairs, drapes and curtains, and even cleaning air conditioner filters on a regular basis.
Additionally, cleaning companies typically use high-grade disinfectants designed to eliminate the toughest germs that may be resistant to normal products. This is mostly an issue for medical and dental offices where the number and diversity of germs is likely to be higher than other types of offices. However, when it comes to keeping the flu at bay, it doesn't hurt to pull out the big guns.
For more tips on preventing the spread of the flu in your office or to have a team of professionals help with cleaning, contact a local cleaning company like NYC Office Cleaners.