How Healthy is Your Workplace?

We may be heading into the season to be jolly, but the sniffles, colds, and flu can dampen employees’ holiday spirits and companies’ productivity. According to its January 2017 statistics, the Center for Disease Control estimates that the flu is responsible for a total loss of $7 billion in profits annually and 111 million lost work days. Being sick is bad enough, but a larger issue arises when employees come into work when they’re ill. 

Fifty eight percent of employees believe that going into work while sick makes them “hardworking and committed” to their job, according to Staples Advantage latest survey of office workers which was released in January 2017. From the same survey, 79 percent of respondents reported they go to work while sick and 73 percent say they have caught a cold or flu at work. Seventy four percent of respondents also believe that their employers should further encourage sick employees to stay home.

What can companies do to help maintain wellness in the workplace during the cold season?

  • Encourage workers to remain away from the office when they are ill. Employees who come to work sick risk spreading germs to others who may also become ill.

  • Review your cleaning procedures.

    • Does your cleaning include using disinfectants on commonly touched surfaces such as elevator buttons, handrails, light switches, door handles, etc.?
    • Are telephone receivers included in the cleaning scope of work?Are disinfecting wipes available for sensitive electronic equipment, including copiers and keyboards?
    • Be sure to clean common areas such as break rooms with disinfecting solution on tables, countertops, vending machines, appliance handles and chair backs.
    • Keep a trash can near the restroom door, so an employee can use a paper towel to open the restroom door and readily dispose the towel at the door when they leave.
    • Are facial tissues available?

  • Remind everyone about the importance of hand sanitation in reducing illness.

    • Encourage hand washing; 15-20 seconds of active hand washing is the best defense against the spread of germs.
    • Consider installing hand sanitizer stations at key entry points.
    • Consider the use of germicidal soaps in restrooms

  • Go the extra mile.

    • Consider hosting a flu vaccination clinic at the workplace.
    • Publicize nearby flu vaccination providers at local pharmacies or other retail locations.
    • Discuss your organization’s sick leave policy with employees. Germs belong at home, not at the office. Remind workers of their responsibility to protect others.

Make the holiday season healthy at work. Spread merriment, not germs.

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