Man-with-headacheIf you happen to sneeze during the summer, you will usually get sympathetic condolences from other allergy sufferers. However, a sneeze in autumn is not the same…especially at work. Now that the start of flu season is here, the sympathy may be tempered with a visible dread of catching something.

Getting vaccinated  remains the most effective way to prevent the flu, but there are other actions responsible organizations should take. With just a few proactive measures, you can easily mitigate the chances of a flu outbreak among your staff and focus on driving productivity with a full roster.

Create a plan

It’s imperative to develop an emergency plan, even if it’s not geared specifically toward the flu. Similarly, you should formulate an alternative strategy in case there is an excessive amount of absent employees. Start cross-training your employees now and compile a list of contact numbers for dependable temp agencies.

Inexpensive precautions like tissues, no-touch trashcans, soap, hand sanitizer, disinfectants and disposable towels can mean the difference of thousands or even millions of dollars in employee equity. Make sure these items are abundant for every employee. Additionally, ask for janitorial services to be especially diligent in cleaning commonly touched surfaces in shared areas.

Talk to your employees

Dissuade your employees from relying on just vitamins to get them through the flu season and encourage them to get vaccinated. This year’s flu shot includes the H3N2 virus, influenza B and last year’s pandemic strain H1N1. Facilitate the process by checking to see whether or not the vaccine is covered under your insurance plan or, for added convenience, organize a flu shot clinic at the office.

Let your employees know that their health (and yours) comes before any deadline. It’s important to stress there are no repercussions for employees who are actually sick to call in and they should stay at home for at least 24 hours after their fever subsides without the aid of medicine. The CDC cautions though that having a fever is not always a symptom of the flu or H1N1.

Post reminders

Reinforce your message with posters encouraging proper cough etiquette and regular handwashing. If you have a company intranet, embed these widgets for useful tips about influenza.

Minimize any office-wide outbreaks

Despite your best efforts, an outbreak may occur. In that case, use video chat, emails, forums or instant messages rather than face-to-face meetings. Think about telecommuting options and try not to gather a large number of people in a confined area.

Skip the doctor’s note and recommend sick employees stay at home for at least seven days, even if the symptoms go away sooner. Your employees know themselves best, so ask them to check for fever or chills AND cough or sore throat every day before going into work.

Everyone knows the flu season can bring health hazards, but they don’t have to affect the whole company. Follow these guidelines and officially celebrate the beginning of fall.

Marketing Manager