25 Oct Its flu season
As per the CDC, flustarts showing up in October and November, peaks between December and February, and can stay as late as May.
As an employer, chances are that you want your department to stay healthy. So we’ve provided some tips for you.
- Educate staff. Granted, people should know the basics, but reminding employees about how to avoid the flu keeps it fresh in their mind. The CDC website offers best practices, as well as flyers and posters you can hang or distribute in the workplace. Just don’t overdo it, or people might decide you’re a hypochondriac.
- Focus on germ-filled areas. Research shows the dirtiest places in the office include the breakroom sink’s faucet handles, microwave door handles, keyboards and refrigerator door handles. You may want to have these areas cleaned more often than usual during the winter or leave hand sanitizers around these areas. Try to use antibiotic cleaning wipes as much as possible, and make sure that the soap is antibacterial.
- Review PTO/sick time policies. In addition to going over these policies, it’s important to remind workers to stay home when they have even an inkling of flu-like symptoms. Toughing it out could have disastrous consequences for the rest of the office. You may also want to consider expanding telecommuting options. After all, work-at-home options will limit the chances of a semi-sick employee spreading something to others through the entire office. Make it clear that your employees won’t be impressing anyone by giving everyone the flu, least of all yourself.
- Have a contingency plan in place. It’s critical to be prepared to keep business operations running smoothly in the event key employees are out sick or the office is severely short-staffed. Or if someone does get the flu into the office, sending everyone home for a week.
- Make it easy for staff to get vaccinated. You can host an on-site flu-shot clinic or participate in a voucher program that allows staffers to get vaccinated at a local pharmacy. Or you can give bonuses, maybe a bit of paid time off, most employees would take advantage of that.
One practice to avoid this flu season: making flu shots mandatory. Doing so could run afoul of a number of federal regulations (Title VII, ADA) and get you in trouble with agencies like the EEOC.