It can all start with one random, seemingly innocent sneeze from an employee who happened to pass by the production floor.
Most people would think nothing of it – until the next thing you know, you see more and more employees showing signs of the flu. They’re sniffing and sneezing and coughing everywhere. To make matters worse, some simply refuse to take the day off, leading to a possible outbreak in the office.
Influenza, most commonly known as flu, is a respiratory infection caused by a virus. It spreads when an infected person coughs or sneezes. You can even catch the flu by simply shaking hands with an infected person.
The virus it brings is infectious. It can travel so fast it could get a speeding ticket on a highway. It can easily spread across the room in just a few seconds and remain floating in the air for ten minutes.
And when the flu virus settles, it can survive for up to 48 hours on desks, steel handrails, doorknobs, and on elevator buttons.
That’s why it’s easy for unsuspecting people in the office to get infected.
Flu Statistics You Need to Know Now
Not only does flu affect people’s health, but it can also affect their productivity – and therefore impacting your bottom line.
The next time you think about allowing your staff to come to work sick, remember these facts:
- In 2017, the biggest flu outbreak had cost businesses an estimate of $114.6 million worth of lost labour productivity. (Finder)
- 9 out of 10 workers admit to having risked their own health and that of their colleagues by going to work with flu symptoms (Dr Alan Hampson, Australia’s leading expert on flu)
- 67% of office workers have admitted to coming into work while sick (Staples)
- Around 4 million Australian adults are not immunised against preventable diseases (Medical Journal of Australia via ABC)
- Unvaccinated adults increase risk for everyone (Medical Journal of Australia via ABC)
- Only 15% of employees surveyed clean their workspace at least once a week (Staples)
- Buttons on an elevator can have more than 40x more bacteria than public toilet seats. (Infection Control Today)
The reality is, the flu virus can spread in your office and infect anyone at any given time. Is your business prepared for it?
Below are some essential tips to ensure your employees and the business remain healthy.
5 Tips to Prevent the Spread of Flu in the Office
1. Establish a Safe and Healthy Work Environment
Your employees are your most valuable assets, and their health is vital to the success of the business. It’s important that managers don’t create a culture where employees feel the need to come to work even when they’re unwell. Also, encourage your employees to use their sick days or work from home (if they must) if they have the flu.
2. Embrace Basic Hygiene (but Not Sick Colleagues)
As simple as it sounds, it still pays to remind everyone of this as it’s one of the most crucial things we can do to prevent the spread of the flu virus. From frequent handwashing to using hand sanitizers to covering the mouth when sneezing – it’s these basic reminders that can make all the difference in ensuring your team members are in control of their health.
3. Equip the Office with Hygiene Supplies
Hygiene supplies can help prevent the spread of germs and virus in the office. So make sure you have an adequate supply of tissues, antibacterial soap, paper towels, disposable wipes, and disinfectant sprays.
4. Exercise Cleanliness in the Workspace
Computer keyboards, phones, and tables are home to millions of bacteria; that’s why it’s crucial that these surfaces are regularly cleaned and disinfected.
5. Enforce a Flu Vaccination Program
Experts recommend that everyone should be jabbed with flu vaccine once a year. It’s the best way to protect ourselves against the flu virus and its complications. This can solve a wide range of health problems while achieving cost savings associated with absenteeism and presenteeism.
Don’t let your soldiers fall
Influenza is highly contagious and millions get infected by it. With a serious disease such as the flu, businesses need to take action in order to ensure the health and safety of their employees.
Whilst it’s important to ensure that the business is healthy, it’s equally important to ensure that your greatest assets (your people) are in tip-top shape.
So build a healthy work environment. Remind your team of basic hygiene. Set aside a budget for hygienic supplies. Promote cleanliness in the workspace. And consider implementing a vaccination program.
Now that the holiday period is over and a new year has begun, it’s time to prepare and organise your flu prevention program now.
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