Have you ever worked at a company when flu season rolls around and the entire office gets sick? This can create huge problems for small business owners. In larger companies the effects of employee absences may be diluted. However, one sick person in a small office can cause business to be lost. As a small business owner you should have a game plan for this dreaded time of the year. This will ensure that illnesses such as the flu do not negatively impact your daily operations or bottom line.
Still not convinced? A new survey of administrative personnel conducted by Staples, shows that 70% of employees admit to coming in to work while sick. The survey also found that only 15% of workers clean or wipe off their workspace daily. One way to curb this challenge is to readily provide cleaning supplies to employees. A quick phone, doorknob, keyboard, desk, and mouse wipe down with a sanitizing cloth should do the trick. Other tips from the Center for Disease Control are as follows:
- Avoid people who are coughing.
- Avoid people who are sick. If you are sick, stay home until you are feeling better.
- Cough or sneeze into a tissue and then throw the tissue away. If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve, not your hands.
- Frequently wash your hands with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze.
- Get vaccinated against the seasonal flu for individual protection and to limit the spread of flu from person to person.
- To prevent the spread of germs, do not touch your eyes, nose, or mouth. Touching your face is an easy way for germs to spread.
- When you’re not by a sink, use alcohol-based hand sanitizers.
Our advice is to actively encourage employees to stay home upon the first sign of flu symptoms. The employee should stay out of the office for at least 24 hours after their fever has passed. This will prevent the workplace from becoming a “point of spread.” Some employees may be resistant to missing work in fear of falling behind or missing deadlines, burdening their healthy coworkers, or an unwillingness to use up accrued sick days. In order to keep the office healthy, be sure to send sick employees home. Acknowledge their level of commitment to their job, but note that you are looking out for everyone’s best interests. Make sure other staff have been cross trained in order to cover for absent colleagues. And if all else fails, allow sick workers to work from home if they request to do so.