Could Your Workplace Policies Be Spreading the Flu?

A flu outbreak in your workplace will make your staff miserable and could drastically reduce production. Avoiding the flu at work takes cooperation between employers and staff, especially when it comes to creating — and enforcing — workplace policies that encourage flu prevention.

If you’re thinking, “there’s no way one of our policies is helping to spread the flu,” we suggest you check our list below. You may be surprised, but how you hold company meetings and where people eat their lunch, could be making your workforce sick.

Policy 1: Sick Leave Policies
Consider offering sick leave, even if you don’t have a normal paid time off structure. Small businesses that can’t afford sick pay can still offer make-up time so sick employees don’t feel like a day in bed with the flu will automatically mean a smaller paycheck.

 Policy 2: Efficiency at the Cost of Health
As companies struggle to create efficient, cost-effective workforces, some innovative labour ideas may put employees at greater risk. Desk-sharing policies, common work areas and strategic equipment rooms create cubicle-sized petri dishes of cross-contamination. If your workforce shares space in any of these ways, cut back on the spread of flu by providing antibacterial wipes and hand sanitizer to help your employees keep germs at bay. Assign personnel to wipe down shared furniture and equipment like copy machines and breakroom tables several times a day. Require shift employees who share cubicle spaces to wipe down desks, computer mice, keyboards and phones at the beginning and end of their shifts.

Policy 3: Face-to-Face Isn’t Always Better
Gathering the team in one room is an effective way to communicate and many leaders’ preferred method for brainstorming and collaboration. But during flu season, together isn’t always better. Huddling around a single conference table, grabbing a bite to eat together, and shaking hands with others are activities that risk the spread of flu. Consider limiting physical meetings and opting for Web meetings or teleconferences during the height of flu season, especially if the bug is hitting your workforce hard. Even if you have a no-work-from-home policy, consider relaxing requirements for special circumstances; if an essential staff member needs to be out sick but is willing to call in to provide information during a meeting, be appreciative of such dedication and allow the call.

Policy 4: Munch & Work Policies
Many companies allow employees to eat at their desks, especially during high-volume seasons. Crumbs and leftover food create a breeding ground for germs, and the hand-to-face movement required for eating also encourages the spread of flu. If you can’t nix the eat-at-your-desk allowance because it will derail productivity or employee morale, make sure you educate employees about the importance of a clean work area and frequent hand-washing.

Make sure to help your workers know when it’s best to stay at home and get better and create an environment and workplace policies that allow them to. Being open to your teams and coworkers about how important it is to you to eliminate the flu at work can make all the difference.

2 thoughts on “Could Your Workplace Policies Be Spreading the Flu?

  1. Barb says:

    Isolating employees and reducing personal contact may reduce the spread of germs, but it is not going to improve employees well being. Neither is slathering yourself with anitbacterial lotions, which in the long term, put everyone at greater risk of infection.

    The best defense against illness is to fortify your immune system by getting plenty of rest, fresh air, exercise and eating a well balanced diet. These strategies not only improve physical health but emotional and mental well being as well. Ensuring employees have the time they need to spend on these things will go a long way to a healthier, happier workplace. Supporting employees in their efforts towards a healthier lifestyle is where the emphasis should be.


    • staplesadvantagecanada says:

      We definitely agree with you Barb! The points made in the article need to be paired with all the other items you mentioned: rest, eating well, fresh air and exercise. It all helps to create a healthy mind and body, both at work and at home. Thanks for your input!


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