Leadership in any organization can help employees be more aware and precautious about spreading germs. Especially during flu season, maintaining a healthy workforce and an environment that is clean for those using it is critical. The flu can spread quickly and when more folks exposed to it there are more sick days used and absenteeism which is bad for any business.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “People with flu can spread it to others up to about 6 feet away. Most experts think that flu viruses are spread mainly by droplets made when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.” If something that has the virus on it is touched, like a doorknob, light switch, or other surface, is touched it is also possible to catch the flu. Furthermore… “Most healthy adults may be able to infect other people beginning 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 5 to 7 days after becoming sick. Children may pass the virus for longer than 7 days. Symptoms start 1 to 4 days after the virus enters the body. That means that you may be able to pass on the flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick. Some people can be infected with the flu virus but have no symptoms. During this time, those persons may still spread the virus to others.”
Sounds pretty scary, right? Facilities and those managing them have to stay active when it comes to flu mitigation practices. Schools, hospitals, restaurants, offices, theaters and all public buildings are at risk.
If an employee becomes ill, they should stay home, period.
Coming to work when sick (even in early stages or before a sickness is fully diagnosed) only exposes others in the facility making a higher potential for the spread of germs. If your business isn’t insisting that sick employees stay home, it could be a mistake causing more absenteeism and lost business. Make sure employees are not pressured into working when sick to avoid lost wages or guilt. It’s not fair to anyone and can expose healthy employees.
What else can a facility do to combat the flu?
Employees should always be encouraged to live a healthy lifestyle so that their bodies can fight sickness. Many businesses have been enhancing health related initiatives internally among employees. Eat healthy, exercise and stay active, be aware of ergonomics, and encourage others to do the same. There can be insurance related benefits too, but overall healthy lifestyles lead to healthy people. Hand washing signs in bathrooms, for example, can help but much of the responsibility falls on each individual. Healthy employees miss less work, are happier, and get more done (both on and off the clock!).