Many employers may not realize the impact that the flu season can have on their company. If a major influenza outbreak hits your community, you may face highly elevated employee absenteeism rates. This could lead to business interruption and lost production. Being prepared for a possible severe outbreak in your community can help your business run smoothly through the flu season.
As an employer, there are steps you can take to help your employees avoid catching the flu.
- Stress the importance of washing hands thoroughly and often
- Consider providing hand sanitizer in common areas
- Encourage staff to avoid touching their nose, mouth or eyes
- Encourage staff to cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue
- Disinfect elevator buttons, door knobs and keyboards frequently
- Consider offering seasonal flu shots in your workplace
Keep employees educated on prevention techniques, and encourage them to apply those strategies to their own households as well.
Preparing for an Outbreak
Influenza is spread easily through person-to-person contact. The best way to prevent the spread of it in your workplace is for sick employees to say home until their symptoms are gone.
Sick leave policies should be accommodating, non-punitive and well-communicated. Sick employees are much more likely to stay home and allow employees to care for sick family members if they are encouraged and enabled to do so.
Create contingency plans for essential job duties, so your operations run smoothly even in the event of absences.
Consider implementing plans for such employees to work remotely from home if possible. By accommodating ill employees or employees with ill family members, you can keep business interruption to a minimum and also avoid the spread of influenza in the workplace.
Containing a Local Outbreak
There is a strong likelihood that your workplace will experience flu occurrences at some point during the fall or winter. Encourage all ill employees to stay home until their symptoms subside. Try to be flexible with ill employees or employees who must stay home to care for their family members. If employees feel pressured to work through their illness, it will likely spread around your workplace. This could lead to even more employee absence.
If your community is experiencing increased flu occurrences, you may consider canceling nonessential face-to-face meetings and travel to avoid close contact between employees. Take advantage of telecommuting, email and other remote conferencing options.
Download our Quick Reference Guide to Workplace First Aid Basics
and be prepared to shoo the flu in your workplace this season!