Cold weather and associated illnesses can have significant implications in the workplace. According to a 2015 study, workplace absenteeism costs Australian businesses $33 billion in lost productivity. With the onset of the winter season, ailments such as colds and flu are far more prominent in the workplace. We’ve outlined a few things you can do to counteract sickness absence over winter.
1. Provide an annual flu vax
Unlike a common cold which lasts a few days, symptoms of the flu can last for 1 to 2 weeks with recovery sometimes taking a lot longer. Unsurprisingly, the flu is the leading cause of sick days and lost productivity, costing Australian businesses an estimated 1.5 million lost workdays per year. Given the 2017 Australian flu season was the second worst on record, it pays to be on alert for what you can do to help protect your business from the flu ahead of the winter months in 2018. Providing annual influenza vaccination for employees will go a long way to prevent the flu and its complications, and reduce the spread of the infection in the workplace and the community.
While the vaccination does not guarantee that individuals will not get the flu, it can help reduce the severity and/or duration of the illness.
2. Encourage unwell team members to stay home
It is recommended that individuals with symptoms of the flu stay home from work until they have had no fever for 24 hours to help reduce the spread of infection. Ensure you have policies and procedures in place to allow employees who are unwell to take adequate leave for rest and recovery.
3. Remind employees of cough and sneeze etiquette
Remember to cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze. Consider providing alcohol-based hand sanitiser around the office to help protect against the spread of germs as well.
4. Keep it clean
Encourage a clean and tidy workplace to help reduce the survival and spread of cold and flu viruses. Used tissues should be placed directly into a bin and not left on desks. Supply cleaning products or have cleaning staff to ensure that frequently touched surfaces are wiped down using either detergent or an alcohol wipe on a regular basis.