Winter can be tough — on people and on the organizations they serve.
It’s the height of flu season and, historically, cold weather is the favored stomping grounds of viruses in general.
There are ways to support the people in your workplace, to help them be healthier and happier, and to keep your agency’s operations on track by keeping illnesses to a minimum.
Below are tips for tackling the dreaded cold and flu in your office.
- Make sure employees know where to get flu shots and grant them time to do so and recover from any reaction. Review CDC information about promoting flu vaccines in the workplace.
- Know cold and flu symptoms and make that information available. Review new information for this season.
- Assume that some employees will be ill at some point, and plan workloads so that when someone needs time to recover, another person can handle those responsibilities or there’s another way to manage the work.
- Be aware of at-risk employees — those with chronic conditions and those who are immunocompromised.
- Make your physical office space as safe as possible, and review OSHA guidelines. Encourage handwashing and other preventative actions. Make materials such as tissues, no-touch trash cans, hand soap, hand sanitizer and masks available.
- Encourage healthy habits in general — sleep, exercise and healthy eating to help boost immunity. Share tips on avoiding illness with your teams.
When Flu Strikes
- Encourage employees to stay home when ill and encourage remote workers to log off if they’re feeling unwell.
- Review information about flu contagion timelines and communicate them to your teams.
- Remember the standard rule that employees stay home until they have been without fever for 24 hours, but also know that not everyone who has the flu will have a fever. People with suspected or confirmed flu should stay home for 4-5 days after the onset of symptoms.
- Provide flexible work options for employees who may be caring for sick children or other family members.
- Stay informed about outbreaks in your area, through the CDC’s Influenza Summary Update.
In any agency, some level of illness is unavoidable. It’s part of being human to catch a virus from time to time. But through applied vigilance, we can limit exposures, reduce illness and reduce the seasonal discomfort.
(And spring will be here before you know it! Then, we can talk about allergy season.)