What to do about the Flu
Winter is here and unfortunately that means flu season is also upon us. Influenza is highly contagious and if left unchecked can spread like wildfire through your workforce. Luckily, there are a few things you can do to minimise its impact on your employees and workplace.
Know the symptoms
As with any other work issue, it’s important to know what you’re up against. Educate yourself and your employees on cold and flu symptoms and know the early signs. These include:
- Sudden or excessive fatigue – if you start feeling more tired than usual it could be a sign that a cold or flu is coming on
- Body aches and chills – aches can appear anywhere in the body, but most commonly in the head, back and legs
- Fever – is never a good sign and is more likely to indicate the flu rather than a common cold
- Sore throat – is often an indication of a viral infection and the start of the flu
- Coughing or sneezing – are the most visible signs of illness and also the most common ways in which cold and flu viruses are spread
Prevent the spread of infection
Once you have identified an outbreak of cold or flu (or, ideally, before it) you need to do everything possible to try to prevent it from spreading. There are a few simple measures you can take:
- Adopt a stay at home policy
Encourage employees who feel any symptoms to stay at home rather than risk spreading their illness to other employees. If they feel well enough they may be able to work from home if that’s a viable option for the organisation. If they absolutely must come in to work, then keep them away from other employees and disinfect all surfaces.
- Disinfect high traffic surfaces
Invest in some bottles of disinfectant spray to keep around the workplace. Make sure you disinfect commonly touched surfaces such as desks, keyboards and doorknobs to try to prevent the spread of infection.
- Send sick employees home
Too many people try to soldier on through sickness which, aside from prolonging their illness, puts other people at risk. If you see any employees exhibiting troubling symptoms, send them home immediately.
- Encourage good cough and sneeze etiquette
Put up signs around the office encouraging employees to practice proper coughing and sneezing etiquette. Encourage them to cover their mouth and nose – preferably with a tissue – and wash their hands immediately after sneezing and before touching anything.
Stop it before it starts
Those suggestions are helpful ways to contain a viral outbreak in your office, but of course, the best defence is a good offence. Vaccinations are only effective against influenza not the common cold, but they still play a big part in protecting employees’ health during flu season. You can organise on-site vaccinations or allow staff to leave during work hours to get their own vaccination.
Flu season is tough on a lot of workplaces, but by using some of these strategies you can minimise the effect this season has on your workforce and productivity.