Flu season is upon us and according to a recent survey this illness costs businesses $76.7 million dollars per year through employee absenteeism, employee presenteeism (when an employee attends work while sick) and other indirect costs. A typical employee has flu symptoms for 5-6 days causing them to miss anywhere from between half a day to 5 days of work.
The flu is most commonly spread from person-to-person within about six feet so it is very common to see the flu virus spread through a workplace quickly affecting many employees. Following are some steps that employers can take to prevent the spread of the flu in the workplace:
- Offer a flu vaccination clinic at the worksite or educate employees on where they can obtain the flu vaccination and if/how much of the vaccination is covered by their employer-sponsored health plan.
- Stock vending machines and cafeterias with immunity boosting foods such as oranges, veggie slices, whole-grain-fortified cereals, nuts and water.
- Clean shared items such as phones, keyboards, handles and door knobs with alcohol wipes or other sanitizing wipes.
- Encourage employees to stay home if they are sick.
- Emphasize hand hygiene and cough etiquette in the workplace An employee should:
- Wash hands after blowing his or her nose, coughing, sneezing or coming into contact with contaminated objects or surfaces by applying soap and water and rubbing hands together for at least 20 seconds. Use a paper towel to turn off the water faucet and open any doors. Dispose of the paper towel in a wastebasket.
- Cough and sneeze into a tissue or upper sleeve.
BCN Services has Human Resources and Safety experts who can offer tips about keeping the workplace free of illness and injury. Contact us for more information or if your business needs help managing HR needs.
Alicia Jester, Manager Benefits and Payroll