Fall is characterized by changing leaves, pumpkin patches, and unfortunately, the common cold. Every cold and flu season, between 5% and 20% of Americans get the flu, resulting in 70 million missed workdays, according to WebMD. As a result, roughly $10.4 billion is spent on doctor visits, and in extreme cases, hospitalization.
What can you do to keep employees healthy this cold and flu season?
Employers have the influence and resources to help keep the workplace healthy. While your efforts probably won’t be a hundred percent effective, steps you take today may prevent some of your employees from getting sick this season.
Provide anti-bacterial wipes for employees to wipe down their desks, keyboards, and phones. Regularly wipe down door handles, water fountains, microwaves, counter tops, etc. Place hand sanitizer pumps in common areas to limit the spread of germs.
Promote healthy work-life balance so employees get enough rest. “Your body needs sleep to fight infections diseases,” explains Eric J. Olson, M.D. Individuals who don’t get enough quality sleep are more susceptible to becoming sick after being exposed to viruses such as the common cold.
Encourage healthy eating by providing healthy breakroom snacks instead of vending machine options. Stock up on Emergen-C as well. Employees can reach for these vitamin C drink mixes as soon as they feel symptoms.
Speak about the importance of daily exercise. Regular activity strengthens the body’s immune system which can help fight off colds and other infections, according to a study published in The New York Times.
Encourage employees to go home if they aren’t feeling well. Viruses spread quickly in small spaces like offices. WebMD says common cold and flu symptoms include fever, headache, extreme tiredness, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle aches, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
While you most likely won’t prevent your entire office from getting sick this cold and flu season, there are steps you can take to keep the office as healthy as possible.