This year’s flu season has been especially hard on American businesses. Using new data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it’s now estimated that the recent outbreak of the H3N2 virus will cost U.S. companies $15.4 billion in lost productivity and sales. Since the 2018 flu season will hit small businesses especially hard, owners need to take steps to stop the spread of influenza in their offices.
Incentivize flu vaccinations
The CDC’s number one flu prevention recommendation is to get inoculated with the latest flu vaccine. To make sure all of your workers get vaccinated, consider incentivizing the practice. Offering a gift card as a reward for flu vaccination is an easy and relatively inexpensive way to keep your workforce healthy and productive. Owners also might want to consider working with a local clinic or pharmacy to set up an onsite vaccination day.
Stock up on hand sanitizer and alcohol wipes
Another easy way to stop the spread of the influenza virus in your office is to make sure it’s stocked up on hand sanitizer and alcohol wipes. Together, the use of those two antiseptics can go a long way in killing viruses that can harm productivity and sales from spreading in the workplace via handshakes and unsanitized surfaces.
Remind everyone to thoroughly and frequently wash their hands
A conscientious small business owner should make an effort to remind their employees to always thoroughly wash their hands before eating, and after sneezing, coughing, blowing their noses and using the bathroom. Make mention of this policy during meetings and post reminders in common areas. It’s also a good idea to specify that a quality handwashing should involve soap and water and should take at least 20 seconds to complete.
Let sick workers stay home
Understandably, small business owners may be wary of allowing employees to take a few days off to fully recover from the flu. After all, with a small workforce, every employee absence will be keenly felt. However, the reality is having sick workers in the office is bad for business. Research has shown that employees who are physically present but mentally absent cost the U.S. industry billions of dollars every year. That fact, coupled with the high-risk factor that one ill team member will infect the rest of your staff means that your company has significant incentive to let sick workers stay home.