The winter season in Greece has began and its marking its way with symptoms of cold and flu. Here’s how to keep your workplace healthy — or fight back when something ends up going around.
Along with the rain and the cold, the change in time and the sorter day, your employees are probably inadvertently tracking plenty of germs into the office. That’s nasty for them and nasty for you — sick employees are (contagious) unproductive employees.
You can’t make it warmer in November so what, if anything, can be done to keep your workplace as healthy as possible?Here is a sensible approach to three key areas.
The first step is stopping people from getting sick in the first place. Of course you can’t keep them away from their neighbor’s germy kid or that cough-filled metro, but at least you can help them arm themselves for cold and flu season. «Some businesses schedule on site flu shots which makes it easy and convenient for employees. If you don’t have the resources to do that, you can email out a list of nearby locations that have flu shot services available,» suggests Untemplater, and don’t forget to leave some free Vitamin C lying around so employees have it to hand at the first sign of sickness.
Another, and must admit more Greek approach is of course Echinacea/Εχινάκια tea bags or pills or drops that you can leave next to the fruits basket and email a leaflet explaining the use and benefits of it. Echinacea encourages the immune system and reduces many of the symptoms of colds, flu and some other illnesses. It works best at the early stages, so its a preventive measure in a way!
Okay, the cold isn’t some medieval plague, but the principle of keeping the sick separate from the healthy still obviously applies, and, as we all know, modern office workers sometimes soldier on when it would be far better for the whole office if they headed home. As the manager, make sure you encourage them to stay away when sick.
«Get a clear sick leave policy in place and stick to it,» suggests Untemplater. «You want people to be able to take time off to recover without feeling guilty, stressed, or worrying if they’re going to get paid or not.» But just setting out a sensible policy on sick leave isn’t enough. You also need to reinforce it on the ground: «keep a close eye on your teams especially during the height of cold and flu season. If you notice certain individuals displaying symptoms, take the initiative and send them home to rest. Some people are stubborn or hesitant to speak up about going home and will try to work through sickness when they’re actually at their most contagious.»
Keeping infected employees out of the office is a great start to battling seasonal sickness, but it needs to be paired with sensible sanitation measures, according to Untemplater. Anywhere lots of people touch is likely to be teeming with germs. Go on the offense. Wipe off that grimy cellphone, and disinfect microwaves doorknobs, light switches, etc.
Another germ breeding ground you might not have considered is sponges.Throw them away. «Paper towels are a good alternative, microwaving damp sponges to kill germs, or replacing sponges often can help prevent cold and flu in the office,» notes Untemplater.
Stay out of the office kitchen. Most people don’t realize that office kitchens are often a breeding ground for the flu, Moffitt says. “Try not to share eating utensils, dishes and linens if possible. During flu season it’s best to use disposable products. If those aren’t available employees should wash everything thoroughly before they use it.”