Feeling panicky about the flu season? You’re not alone. Reports that this is the worst flu season in a decade have a lot of folks nervously clutching their hand sanitizer and considering just how weird they’d look wearing a surgical mask on public transit.
For managers, the challenge is to keep the flu from getting a foothold in the office. Because we all know that once the flu appears at work, it’s a non-stop cycle of sick days and missed deadlines for the rest of the winter. Here’s how to keep your office as healthy as possible.
1. Offer Flu Shots
No, it’s not too late! If you haven’t already, see about getting one of the many corporate flu shot companies to pay a visit to your office. This is a case where an ounce of prevention is definitely worth a pound of cure.
2. Stock Plenty of Cleaning Supplies
Make sure your workers have their choice of germ-killing products and tools. Encourage employees to wipe down their phones, desks, computer mice, and keyboards on a regular basis.
3. Make Sure the Common Areas Are Cleaned Regularly, Too
Ask the cleaning service to pay special attention to those areas of the office where germs love to hide out. Have them wipe down elevator buttons, door handles, keypads, and public phones on a daily basis. And if you think they’re being lax about their duties, don’t be afraid to follow up after them. Sure, wiping door knobs isn’t in your job description, but there’s no better use of your time during flu season. You could be saving the company hundreds of lost working hours.
4. Have Your Ventilation System Checked
One of the many theories about why we tend to come down with more colds and flus in the winter is that being stuck indoors, and in close proximity with sick people, makes us more susceptible. Have your ventilation and heating systems checked to maximize air flow in the office. You might decrease the odds that your workers will contract the flu, and you’ll definitely up the odds of their avoiding serious illnesses like Legionnaire’s Disease, which is caused by bacteria that can hide in dirty vents.
5. Encourage Hand Washing
Think those hand-washing signs are only for the employees at your favorite fast food restaurant? Think again. Remind your workers that the single biggest thing they can do to stay healthy this year is to wash their hands frequently and thoroughly. Most of us don’t wash our hands well enough to rid them of disease-causing germs. The CDC advises humming “Happy Birthday” to yourself while rubbing your soapy hands together, before rinsing them thoroughly under running water, and drying them completely on a clean towel or under a dryer.
6. Remind Sick Employees to Stay Home
Finally, make sure your workers know that they’re not winning any brownie points with the company by limping in to work when they’re ill. It’s better to stay home for a day or two than risk infecting a whole department with the flu.
Images: Paul Swansen/Flickr, Zepfanman/Flickr, Dave Crosby/Flickr, Michael Casey/Flickr, hygienematters/Flickr, sodaniechea/Flickr