After two years of restricted crowds, social distancing and other COVID-related guidelines, people have returned to gathering in person. They’re not the only ones returning, however – so are the germs. The scaled back restrictions layered on top of a ramped up frequency of gatherings leads to more colds and sickness, especially coming off the holidays. Not to mention the fact that flu season is in full swing.
Unless people are working from home, these illnesses will show up, and likely spread, at the office, too. Find out how your team can avoid taking sick time and reduce the spread of the office bug.
Reduce with Health Safety
Even when employees aren’t feeling sick, they can still carry illness-causing germs into the conference room. Leaning on these office flu prevention tips will reduce the spread of illness.
Wash Your Hands
Washing your hands is common sense, right? While we hope everyone does this regularly throughout the day, the sad truth is that most adults don’t wash their hands enough to effectively kill bacteria. The key is to rub your hands together with a soapy lather for at least 20 seconds. Keep an alcohol-based sanitizer readily available around the jobsite, especially if water and a sink isn’t nearby. Consider investing in sanitizer stations – either self-standing or mounted to the wall – throughout the workplace, too.
Wear a Mask
Wearing a face mask – especially indoors and with large crowds – undoubtedly reduces the spread of germs. Masks may help block particles leaving one employee’s nose/mouth from reaching and infecting another employee. In other words, they stop transmission of viruses and bacteria. Workplaces where close contact is necessary should consider using masks to prevent this transmission and keep employees healthy so they can remain at work.
Allowing employees to work from home is an obvious tactic to maintain distance during flu season. This may not be an option for everyone on the payroll, but it’s still a strong way to decrease transmission among the workforce. If that’s not an option, encourage employees to avoid close contact with colleagues and minimize touching shared objects. This means spread out workspaces and don’t share supplies or snacks.
Above all else, encourage employees to stay home when they are sick. This can prevent an outbreak within the organization, but it’s also the best way for employees to get better, faster.
Without proper prevention methods, the flu travels from person to person throughout homes and offices. People who are infected with the flu virus can spread it to anyone within 6 feet. Most of the spread occurs with coughing, sneezing or talking as people inhale droplets from those infected. These droplets can survive in the air for several hours, then potentially land on surfaces and live up to another 24 hours! That’s why hand washing, mask wearing, and maintaining distance play an important role in flu prevention at work
While it’s easy for the flu to travel, it’s also easy to confuse the flu with a cold. Both are respiratory illnesses and share many of the same symptoms, but they come from different viruses. Colds symptoms tend to be more mild than the flu, and more often lead to a stuffy or runny nose. The flu, however, can bring on a fever, chills, aches, fatigue and a sore throat.
Encourage employees to consult their doctor, and even get tested for flu when they experience these symptoms. Employees with the flu are most contagious in their first 3 days of sickness, and they should also stay home from work at least 4-5 days from the first symptoms.
Flu & Vitamin Shots
Vaccination is the most effective way to prevent illness, including the flu. According to the CDC, vaccination prevented an estimated 7.52 million illnesses, 3.69 million medical visits, 105,000 hospitalizations, and 6,300 deaths due to influenza during the 2019-2020 season.
An annual flu vaccine is recommended for everyone 6 months and older, and there’s still time to do it this season. It’s also available as a nasal spray for people ages 2-49. Benefits of flu shots and nasal spray include:
- Increased herd immunity
- Reduced sick days
- Less severe illness for anyone who does get sick
After the COVID-19 pandemic challenged the logistics within many workplaces and continues to create health concerns around the globe, there’s never been a better time to invest in the health and wellness of your employees.
Long before COVID-19, businesses of all sizes and industries have trusted Discovery Health Services to provide on-site employee wellness programs and vaccine clinics to immunize their employees against everything from the flu to Hepatitis and Tuberculosis.
DHS workplace flu clinics make it easy to get many employees vaccinated right in your facility. We come to you, and even handle full-scale coordination for clients with multiple offices and locations to ensure your event is a success. Plus, DHS offers alternative B-12 and B-Complex injections for employees who prefer a more natural option.
Discovery Health Services
Illness is inevitable, but containing the spread is possible when you take proactive steps to protect the entire workforce. There’s never been a smarter time to consider offering flu shots to employees. Talk to DHS about scheduling your workplace flu clinics so you can reduce the spread of the office bug.
While you’re at it, be sure to ask about our new DHS Wellness 360 Platform! This single truth for all things wellness is an affordable app that combines our services into a user-friendly interface, while also tracking the effectiveness of employee engagement. Find out how it’s the driver of a high-performance workplace.