Fall is in full swing here in Portland! The temperatures are cooling down and we are (finally) getting some rain. With the decrease of temperature comes an increased likelihood of people staying indoors. Unfortunately, this also means that it’s cold and flu season.
Usually cold and flu season lasts from late fall to mid spring. No one has any love for that miserable time when the kids get sick, then one parent gets sick, then the other parent gets sick, and finally the illness is spread out to the office. Instead of letting cold and flu run rampant in your office, take a look at this “how to” and prevent those nasty germs from gaining a foothold:
Cold and flu are spread both by face-to-face contact and from germs left behind after a sick person touches his or her keyboard, the handles of the sink, your hand, and many other places. Be sure your cleaning crew knows to disinfect things that people touch consistently. This could be the light switch, door handles, keyboards, desk chairs, microwaves, and more.
You can also provide disinfectant wipes for your employees to use at the end of the day, wiping down their keyboard, desk chair, desk top and mouse before leaving. Also, encourage employees to wipe down both their office phones and their cell phones.
Wash Your Hands – Everyone!
Even if you don’t work at a restaurant, washing your hands consistently when you encounter ill people is incredibly important. As human beings, we tend to touch each other physically in order to connect. If we touch someone who is sick and then touch our own face, we can become infected with their virus. But if we wash our hands first, the virus is less likely to spread. So, ask employees to be vigilant about washing their hands.
Use Sick Days
There are two things that happen when people come into work sick:
- They spread disease to other employees, taking them out of commission.
- They don’t work as effectively or efficiently and often make mistakes. This isn’t their fault, they’re just sick!
Don’t let overeager employees come in and work while sick. Ask them to visit the doctor and get well.
If a really key employee is sick, you might want to provide the option to allow her to work from home. That way, she doesn’t spread the illness to other employees, but you can still get her help on key projects. Just remember – she’s still sick! So, you may want to ask that, even if working at home, your employee only work a half day or only help on specific essential actions.
Where Can I Get a Flu Shot?
According to the Centers for Disease Control, flu shots are the single most effective way to prevent the flu. Luckily, there are many, many locations all around Portland that offer flu shots. Find out where employees can go to get flu shots that are covered by their insurance and post that information in the staff notice board or inform insured employees via email. You may not be able to require all employees get flu shots, but giving them the option and helping them find the most convenient location will help provide more immunity to flu among your workforce.
Sip on Hot Tea
Dr. Murray Grossan from Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles says that breathing in the steam from hot tea helps stimulate the hair follicles of the nose. This process allows germs to move out of the nose more effectively. So, provide hot tea options in your breakroom. You can also provide the option to add honey to the tea, as it’s a natural antibacterial. Just make sure everyone washes out their mugs with dishwashing fluid before putting them on the drying rack.
Stress is a huge cause of disease. You can ask employees to help keep stress down in the office by taking their mandated break times and providing a quiet space in the office for them to stretch, sit and read, play games, or do other stress-free activities. Allowing employees some time to decompress can help keep them healthy and working effectively.
So, your rapid “how to” summary for preventing cold and flu in the office:
- Ask cleaning staff and employees to disinfect common areas and things they touch.
- Encourage employees to wash their hands frequently.
- Ask sick employees to stay home and get better.
- Encourage employees to de-stress.
- Provide hot tea, honey, and disinfectant wipes.
- Provide a list of locations that will perform flu shots under the employee insurance plan.
We hope you and your employees stay healthy and happy this cold and flu season!
If you are looking for a great employee health plan to offer your employees this cold and flu season, contact us today. We provide health plans to businesses small and large!