Straight from cold and flu season to allergy season, most workplaces are seeing an increase in requests for time off due to illness. While these sick days are understandable, they still have a negative effect on productivity and put additional stress on the remaining employees. Taking the following steps can help prevent the spread of illness in the office:
- Eat nutritious foods. Eating a balanced, healthy diet can boost immune health. Providing employees with nutritional guides, apps, or even food during the day can help to adjust unhealthy habits and improve immune system function.
- Use appropriate hand washing techniques. Many people don’t wash their hands correctly. Giving a cursory rinse won’t do much to rid them of germs. Employees should aim to wash their hands with soap and warm water for one minute or longer. Employees should make it a habit to wash their hands regularly, especially before eating, and proper dispensers and cleaning agents should be used.
- Sanitize desks and high-traffic areas. Any surfaces that employees interact with regularly are breeding grounds for germs. The flu virus can live for an extended period of time without a host, so it’s easy to spread it around the office. Further, pollen, pet dander, and other contaminants get tracked in from outside and can aggravate allergies and sensitivities among colleagues. Using a sanitizer on surfaces and objects employees touch regularly can help reduce the spread of inflammation, disease, and other stressors.
- Encourage sick employees to stay home. Many employees feel compelled to return to work before they are fully recovered. This is a two-fold problem. For one, the employee may relapse from pushing too hard too soon, causing an even longer delay in their return. Another issue is that they may still be contagious and infect other employees. Ensure that you provide your employees with an adequate amount of sick time, that processes are in place in each team for such occasions, and that working from home during recovery is as easy as possible but not compulsory.
- Review sick leave policies. Employees need to understand their paid time off for sick leave and their options should they use it all. Employers also need to remain cognizant of protected leave such as time off that falls under the ADA or FMLA. Employers should also consider allowing employees to work from home following an illness. The CDC recommends employees stay home for a full 24 hours after they are fever-free without the assistance of medicine. While they may feel well enough to work, they could still be contagious.
Taking steps to ensure employees stay healthy is a great way to prevent absences due to illnesses. To learn more about absence management, contact the experts at Actec.