Whether you work in a large corporation or a small business, the flu is here and is making an impact. Employees spend 40+ hours per week in the workplace, so it makes sense that there is increased opportunity to spread it around.
Great attention is paid in homes to sanitize surfaces, wash hands and keep a safe distance from those infected. In the workplace, however, we tend to let our guard down a little, which leaves everyone vulnerable. Not only is it miserable for those who catch the virus, trying to keep performance high, as well as morale, can be very difficult.
As an employee, here are some ways to keep the flu at bay:
- Pay close attention to your health. Eat a balanced diet, increase your consumption of fluids and get plenty of rest.
- Keep hand sanitizers with you and use them often while at work.
- Sanitize the surfaces in your office that you come in contact with, like your phone, computer, iPad, etc.
- Many people, when flipping through stacks of paper, lick their thumb to make the job easier. Don't!
- If you are feeling ill, stay home. This is not the time for heroics.
As an employer, doing everything you can to keep your employees healthy is a great service to provide. People remain in jobs and with companies where they feel valued. Here are a few things you can do:
- Provide free flu shots onsite. That may lessen the impact to many employees.
- Allow employees to stay home during flu season without guilt, better yet, encourage them to stay home if they are ill. Employees go to work sick every day out of fear of being viewed negatively.
- Post tips on avoiding the flu in visible areas around your office. It is also a good idea to send the list in an 'all employee' email blast.
- Provide hand sanitizer and sanitizing spray for office surfaces.
- Make yourself aware of who has the flu and check-in on those employees.
Many meetings begin and end with a handshake. In our culture, as well as others, refusing an extended hand can be considered rude. During flu season, it is absolutely appropriate to explain that you don't want to spread flu germs and graciously decline to shake hands. Some office are choosing to alter this etiquette by touching one another's sleeves to signify the gesture. Either way, it's best to not shake.
Flu season will pass in a couple of months and things will be back to normal. In the meantime, take care of yourself, your co-workers and your employees.