Each fall when flu season rolls around, many people worry about their children contracting the infectious disease at school, where tiny hands, noses and mouths can go unwashed and unwiped. While children, elderly adults and people with certain health conditions are at a high risk, the truth of the matter is that seasonal flu is a threat in any social environment – the workplace included. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says that it costs U.S. businesses approximately $10.4 billion (yes, with a B) in direct costs for hospitalizations and outpatient visits for adults. Not only that, but the flu causes absenteeism which can mean a loss in productivity.
Preventing the flu is good for business, hands down, and the following tips can help stop the spread among your employees.
Don’t wait to vaccinate
There are many myths surrounding the flu, but most misconceptions stem from the vaccine, including when and how often to get it. The CDC says the single best way to prevent the flu is to get vaccinated each year, and recommends taking action as soon as the vaccine is available, ideally by October (which is just around the corner). With more people vaccinated, the virus has less ability to spread throughout the community. The CDC also offers two strategies for business owners/managers, as well as a checklist of important considerations:
- Schedule a flu vaccine clinic at your office or partner with nearby businesses to offer a joint clinic in a central location.
- Provide information about flu vaccine clinics in the community and communicate that it is encouraged for employees to take time out of their work day if needed.
Keep flu top of mind
Vaccines are vitally important, but additional preventative measures can supplement throughout the season’s duration, typically lasting from early fall through spring.
FighFlu.ca offers several tips on how to play an active role in combating influenza:
- Encourage good hand hygiene, educating and reminding employees about proper hand washing.
- Take extra precautions with your cleaning staff or service to ensure all surfaces that are frequently touched, including often overlooked surfaces like door handles and light switches, are properly sanitized.
- Remind employees to stay home if they are stick until they are fully recovered.