Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Preventing the flu in the office, six simple tips

As outdoor temperatures drop and winter starts rolling in, we’re reminded that flu season is just around the corner. An outbreak of the flu in any workplace drains attendance and productivity, not to mention putting employees at serious risk of developing dangerous flu complications.

Flu season in the U.S. generally lasts from November through March, and sometimes runs into early spring. Influenza or the flu is very contagious and is caused by viruses that infect the nose, throat and lungs. The best way to prevent the flu is by getting a flu vaccination each year, according the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

On average 5% to 20% of the U.S. population falls ill with influenza each year, landing more than 200,000 people in the hospital with flu complications. Sadly, about 36,000 people die from flu complications. Those at high risk for serious complications include the elderly, young children and people with certain health conditions.

Offices and personal workspaces can be breeding grounds for the viruses that cause the flu. Don’t let the flu bring your company’s productivity to a stand still one cough at a time.

Keep employees safe and healthy by working to prevent the flu from spreading in your office with the following six tips:

  1. Vaccinate. Talk to every employee about getting the flu shot. Find a local flu clinic or look into hosting a flu clinic at the office. Vaccination is the best way to prevent the flu.

  2. Educate. Inform employees about flu symptoms and benefits of the flu shot. Distribute information and hang posters on the dangers of the flu and the importance of getting the vaccination.

  3. Review. Review your sick leave and absence policies to ensure you don’t punish employees for being sick. Employees who think they will get in trouble for missing work are more likely to come in to the office no matter how ill they may be.

  4. Encourage. Encourage employees to take preventative measures like washing their hands often, keeping a clean work area and using tissues when sneezing or coughing.

  5. Avoid. If the flu has found its way into the office, employees can minimize exposure by limiting face-to-face time, telecommuting and holding off on business greetings like shaking hands.

  6. Stay. Employees who have the flu should stay home. If an employee has flu symptoms, but feels well enough to work, consider telecommuting until their symptoms are gone.

It takes a collective effort to keep the flu from affecting your workplace. With teamwork and education, employees will have the tools to help prevent themselves and their coworkers from falling ill.


Recess said...

Often pharmacies like Safeway and Walgreens also offer flu shots and are located right in employees' neighborhoods!

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