Minimize the Spread of Illness This Winter

Posted December 19, 2016

With cold and flu season nearly upon us, companies need to think about prevention and risk control steps to limit the effect of communicable illnesses in the office.

Businesses ideally should create practices to react to and prevent the possible effects of an outbreak if they have not already done this.

An extensive plan will determine company obligations, absence guidelines, reporting and return-to-work procedures. The plan may even incorporate steps to maintain continuity in the event of an extensive spread of illness. Fortunately, many simple strategies can help combat the impacts of significant illness hitting your workforce.

Have a plan

Before each cold and flu season hits, it's a good idea to call the local health department or conduct some research to learn about the latest health news and projections. After gathering this information, management should create or review an emergency communication plan for conveying information with supervisors, workers, clients and customers during a flu outbreak.

Management should also determine flexible attendance and sick leave policies for supervisors and workers. The plan should also include a system to contact the local health department regarding large rises in absenteeism due to flu-like symptoms.

A contingency plan should also determine practices if offices become short-staffed or closed. For instance, it may be a good idea to allow sick employees to work from home.

Management may also want to consider providing free flu shots to workers. This minor investment could prevent untold lost productivity.

Maintaining a clean workplace

A great way to keep employees healthy is to maintain a clean working environment through the establishment of good hygiene habits.

It all starts with getting employees in the habit of washing their hands often, since manual contact is a common way to spread germs. Put up signs to remind your workers to wash their hands and provide hand sanitizers when sink access isn’t convenient.

Workers and maintenance staff should also be vigilant about wiping down surfaces and objects, such as computers, phones, tools, electronic devices and doorknobs. Soap and sanitizing spray should also be made available to facilitate this good habit.

Because germs are easily spread through close contact, employers should also consider limiting or postponing any employee gatherings in the event of a flu outbreak. This includes group training sessions, team meetings and social functions.

Employees should also be trained on how to avoid the bad personal habits that are known to spread germs. Let your workers know that touching their eyes, nose or mouth with their hands has been shown to effectively place germs within the body. Employees should also know to cover their mouth and nose when they sneeze, preferably with the inside of the elbow joint.

At Ambassador Personnel, we are able to help your company if your workforce runs into absences due to workplace illness. Contact Ambassador Personnel today to work with a full-service staffing agency!