As National Flu Awareness month comes to a close, it’s not too late for flu shots and promoting flu prevention in your workplace. Experts agree when the flu season invades the workplace, it can have a ripple effect on employees, co-workers and their families and, depending on your workplace, customers and vendors as well.
The flu season peaks in January and February so taking steps now can make a huge difference in staff productivity and well-being in the months ahead. Following are some basic rules of thumb:
No. 1 – Get your flu shot today
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advocates flu shots for everyone over the age of 6 months. Studies have shown that the best course of prevention is to get a flu shot every year. And while getting a shot earlier in the season may be preferred, it is still not too late to protect you and your family against this year’s flu bug. Check with your medical insurance provider to learn how and where to get vaccinated. If you don’t have medical coverage, contact your local health department or other community resources for the best, most cost-effective options in your area.
No. 2 – Wash your hands throughout the workday
We hear it all of the time and it’s true: Washing your hands frequently, using soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds each time, makes a difference. This is especially the case when you continually touch workplace items such as keyboards, door handles, phones, point-of-sale registers, and other work-related surfaces. Try to avoid touching your mouth, eyes, and nose whenever possible and if your position requires you to travel, be sure to pack hand-sanitizers.
No. 3 – Use tissues to cover a sneeze or a cough
It’s important to not only take care of yourself, but also to care about co-workers. If you feel the need to sneeze or cough, grab a tissue to cover your mouth and nose. You’ll feel better knowing that you’re looking out for your co-workers and your they will appreciate your efforts. And, as always, don’t forget to wash your hands after sneezing or coughing whenever possible.
No. 4 – Keep work surfaces clean
When was the last time you cleaned your keyboard or the handset on your phone? Take a few minutes to clean surfaces around you and everyone will benefit. Cleanliness does matter.
No. 5 – Make good health habits a priority and stay home if sick
This may sound like more than one tip, but it’s really good advice to practice year-round. Techniques such as getting enough sleep, keeping active, managing stress and maintaining a healthy diet are proven steps to improve your overall well-being. If you experience flu symptoms, try to stay home when possible. If you’re a manager or supervisor, encourage team members to stay home if that’s an option. And managers or supervisors should follow the same advice if they become ill.
Susan Price, Strategic Service Manager