In any given year, a portion of the American workforce will end up getting influenza — more commonly called “the flu.” Estimates suggest all those sick employees cost U.S. employers billions of dollars in lost labor and sick days.
You can’t always prevent someone from getting sick, but you can take steps to improve workplace health and reduce the chance of a virus spreading through your business.
Flu Prevention in the Workplace
The Centers for Disease Control have created cleaning best practices to reduce the transmission of the flu virus at work.
1. Improve Your Sick Leave Policy
By improving your sick leave policy, employees may feel more freedom to take time off when they are sick, reducing their likelihood of bringing germs into the workplace. This policy should include an advisory requiring employees to stay home for at least 24 hours after running a fever. Telework and flexible leave policies also make it easier for employees to work from home if they suspect they are ill or have ill family members at home.
2. Encourage the Flu Vaccine
One of the most valuable assets in the yearly flu prevention toolkit is the flu vaccine. Getting an annual flu vaccine can reduce the risk of getting hospitalized from the flu virus by as much as 40%.
Employers can reduce the spread of influenza by encouraging all employees to get their annual flu shot. The CDC recommends that children above 6 months old and all adults get a flu shot every fall to reduce the chance of contracting the flu or experiencing dangerous side effects. Some employers offer a flu shot clinic to make it more convenient for their employees to obtain a vaccine. If your business isn’t big enough to host an on-site clinic, provide employees with detailed information about places they can get vaccinated for free or at a reasonable cost.
3. Emphasize Personal Hygiene and Healthy Living
Personal hygiene plays a significant role in preventing the spread of viruses. Encourage employees to wash their hands, avoid touching their faces, cover their mouths when they cough or sneeze and maintain a reasonable social distance from co-workers when possible. But preventing illness isn’t only about guarding against germs. It also involves encouraging employees to make healthy choices that better enable their bodies to fight infection. Encourage healthy eating by offering nutritious food options in vending machines or workplace eateries. Give employees daily opportunities to take breaks to walk or get fresh air. And allow them the time off they need to attend doctor’s appointments.
4. Maintain Workplace Cleanliness
Though you can catch the flu from coughing and sneezing, the flu virus often spreads through the workplace on shared surfaces. Commonly used items and surfaces — such as the copy machine, doorknobs and breakrooms — can quickly become the primary location for co-workers to share germs. Besides encouraging personal hygiene, it’s crucial to model proper sanitation and frequent cleaning of shared surfaces and equipment.
Cleaning Best Practices
You won’t always be able to prevent an employee from getting sick, but you can follow a few guidelines for lowering their risk and keeping things clean.
1. Follow CDC Guidelines for Cleaning
The CDC has published cleaning guidelines for businesses to follow to reduce the risk of influenza transmission among staff. While the organization updated many of these guidelines in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, they still apply to businesses, especially at the height of cold and flu season.
CDC guidelines include suggestions regarding which cleaning products are most effective at killing viruses and preventing illness. They also offer detailed instructions about how to use cleaners safely. Pay close attention to CDC-recommended products and stock up on them in your office for employee convenience. There’s no need to get all the powerful deep cleaners professional custodian services would use, but you can supply employees with wipes and sprays they can use to spot-clean during the workday.
2. Pay Attention to High-Touch Surfaces
A high-touch surface is an area or item in your office that gets a lot of use. These items can vary depending on what kind of business you run, but high-touch surfaces usually include doorknobs and handles, conference tables, breakroom furniture, coffeepots, water coolers, stair rails, shared keyboards and elevator buttons. In some cases, employees may be able to pitch in and help wipe these surfaces after use. It’s also essential to realize that these high-touch areas aren’t the only surfaces that can transmit the virus. Look around your office. Based on the kind of business you run, you should take inventory and identify several high-risk areas that need special attention.
3. Clean Frequently
Occasionally wiping down a doorknob or springing for a cleaning service once a month isn’t going to do much to reduce viral transmission. Daily cleaning is essential to maintaining overall employee health. In some cases, employees can pitch in wiping down the coffee maker or a doorknob, but they can’t spend their entire day cleaning, or productivity will suffer immensely. Ideally, professional cleaning for businesses should be a daily occurrence. By budgeting for professional cleaning services, employers demonstrate that their employees — and their health — are a valuable investment.
Professional Cleaning Services
One crucial way to reduce the spread of flu in the workplace is to hire a reputable professional cleaning company to keep your workplace clean and safe. By using the right cleaning techniques and products, a professional cleaning company can significantly reduce the risk of flu. Cleaning frequency is also an essential way to reduce the spread of viruses on workplace surfaces.
Investing in commercial cleaning services is more than an employee perk. It’s a common-sense move that can save you a lot of money in lost productivity and sick leave. Corporate Clean Services provides high-quality commercial cleaning services at affordable rates for businesses in and around Grand Rapids, Mich. Our goal isn’t only to meet your expectations — we want to exceed them every time! We’ve trained our experienced team members with top-of-the-line cleaning methods and products designed to give you the deep clean you and your employees deserve. Contact us today for a free estimate.