With flu season coinciding with the year-end rush, what can you do to ensure your entire team doesn’t fall victim to a virus that can cause you to be short-staffed for days or even weeks?
- Encourage employees to get flu shots. To minimize absenteeism, employers frequently offer onsite seasonal flu vaccination at no or low cost to their employees. This option can work well if you have an on-site occupational health clinic. If you don’t have a clinic, pharmacies and community vaccinators can be contracted to provide seasonal flu vaccination services on-site.
- Promote wellness protocols. Many workplaces provide hand sanitizers and tissues to minimize the spread of cold and flu viruses. Some companies also make disinfectant wipes readily available so employees can swab work surfaces, their phones and keyboards. If you have a janitorial service, ask if they can sanitize surfaces such as door handles (for doors, kitchen cabinets, and refrigerators) when they clean. Last but not the least, during flu season, it may be necessary to avoid handshaking and to limit other physical interaction with colleagues (hold off on closed-door meetings or crowded staff pow-wows, if necessary). Though perhaps initially awkward, nobody will take offence of you forego shaking hands, as this kind of close contact can spread germs quickly.
- Line up contingency workers. Are any of your employees starting to come down with the flu? Partnering with a recruiter who can quickly send qualified temps can be key to mitigating productivity loss while allowing employees to get much-needed rest (and saving the rest of your team from catching the bug as well). A temporary worker can keep tasks handled and prevent ‘presenteeism’ – when employees come into work while they are sick, mostly because they are worried about deadlines and other responsibilities.
While the image of a sick employee valiantly coming into work can paint the very picture of job dedication, more and more employers are realizing it is actually counter-productive. With Q4 in full swing, having a plan in place that safeguards employee wellbeing and productivity is just what the doctor ordered.
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