Keeping your workforce healthy during the flu season can be a challenge. Respiratory illnesses such as flu spread very easily between workers in an office, which can lead to operating problems in the business as employees take time off work to recover.
The best way to protect workers during flu season is to encourage them to get a flu vaccination. Some employers offer a free or subsidized flu vaccination service on-site to make it easier for workers to get vaccinated. As the flu virus evolves quickly, employees need to get a new vaccine every flu season in order to remain protected.
According to Dr. Dan Jernigan of the CDC, employers need to act quickly as flu season approaches. "It takes about two weeks after vaccination for the immune system to fully respond," says Dr. Jernigan. As a result, the best time to run an on-site vaccination clinic is in October, which is typically at the beginning of the flu season. However, even if your business has missed this ideal vaccination period, it could still be worth running a vaccination clinic later in flu season to prevent new cases from occurring.
The CDC recommends that everyone over 6 months old gets a flu vaccination every year. Employers can help reduce the rate of flu in the workplace by promoting this message to employees. Some people are worried that the flu vaccination could give them the illness, but this is not actually possible. Some people might experience side effects, such as a sore arm or a slight fever, shortly after receiving the vaccine, but these symptoms are usually very mild and do not require any time off work.
In addition to promoting vaccination, employers can also adopt healthy practices in the workplace to reduce the rate of infection and protect employee health. The most important step to take is to encourage employees who are infected with flu to stay away from work. There is little point in having sick employees in the office, as their productivity is likely to be severely compromised, and they may infect other workers.
Cleanliness is extremely important during flu season. Keep all communal surfaces clean, particularly surfaces in the kitchen, canteen and bathroom, using a disinfectant spray. Employers can help to protect employee health by providing hand sanitizer so that people can clean their skin after shaking hands or touching frequently used items, such as door handles. Place these either side of doorways and in prominent locations.
Keeping the workforce safe and healthy during flu season should be a high priority for any business. Reducing the rate of flu infections in the workplace can ensure that employees are able to maintain their productivity throughout the winter months, therefore reducing costs for the business.
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