Germs at Work: How to Prevent the Spread of Illness at the Office

There’s no way to avoid it — flu season is in full swing in New England. As a business owner, flu season presents some unique challenges for your workplace. Illnesses can quickly spread for people sharing close quarters, which not only directly impacts your employees’ health, but can also hurt overall productivity for your business.

Here at Quincy Mutual Group, we want to help, which is why we’ve outlined a few tips and preventative practices to help you keep everyone in your workplace healthy and happy.

Wash your hands

It sounds simple, but properly washing your hands is one of the best ways to prevent the spread of a cold or the flu. It takes at least 30 seconds to thoroughly clean your hands. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends this 5-step process:

1) Wet your hands with warm water and apply anti-bacterial soap.

2) Lather your hands together with the soap.

3) Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds and remember to clean around and under your nails.

4) Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.

5) Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dryer.

As an extra precaution, open door handles with a clean paper towel after washing your hands. Offering hand sanitizer throughout the office during cold and flu season is also a good idea.

Disinfect workspace and surfaces

Your hands may be clean, but your workspace can be a breeding ground for germs. Any items that you frequently use, like your keyboard, mouse, or phone, should be regularly cleaned and disinfected, especially during cold and flu season.  

To ensure employees are able to regularly disinfect their workspaces, it’s up to business owners and managers to provide cleaning supplies like disinfectant wipes, sprays, and paper towels. Make sure these items are easily accessible, and that employees are aware of where to find them.

Get plenty of sleep

Catching extra zzz’s at night is one of the best ways to ward off illness, and can help you recover more quickly if you are sick. According to the National Sleep Foundation, sleep deprivation can negatively impact your immune system, making you more vulnerable to infectious diseases.

Keep Your Distance

If you are feeling sick, do your best to minimize contact with other people. Do not share food or drinks and avoid handshakes when possible. If you must share items like a phone or computer, make sure to frequently disinfect them to reduce the risk of spreading germs. And remember, if you need to sneeze or cough, do so in a tissue or the crook of your elbow — not your open hands!

Offer on-site flu vaccinations

An annual flu vaccination is one of the best ways to reduce the risk of illnesses spreading in your workplace. You can make it easy for your employees to receive vaccinations by hosting an on-site flu vaccination clinic at your office. A licensed nursing practitioner will come to your office during business hours to administer the vaccinations. Contact your company’s health insurance company for more information about scheduling these on-site clinics.

Allow employees to work from home

Many employees will come into the office to avoid using their time-off, especially if they don’t feel “that sick.” However, even a minor cough can spread infectious germs around your office. Consider allowing employees to work from home when they feel under the weather. You can also consider offering sick days separate from an employee’s vacation days in your company’s benefits package. Illness spreads when infected people come in close contact with others, so limiting any face time between sick and healthy employees is a great way to help prevent the spread of germs.

We know that no one likes getting sick, so we hope these tips help you minimize the spread of germs and illnesses in your workplace. If you have more questions about protecting your business, we work with over 500 independent insurance agents who are ready to help! Visit our website to connect with a local agent near you:

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