January brings plenty of post-holiday energy and a renewed sense of commitment to most workplaces, but it also brings dreary weather, wet feet, warm, recirculating indoor air, and a paradise for communicable diseases. The winter isn’t just flu season—It’s cold season, and it’s also a time of low natural light, high stress, and lowered immunity. Flu shots can hold some of the damage at bay, but as a manager or business owner, you’ll need to take a few extra steps to keep your teams healthy.
1. The first tip is a no-brainer: Send your employees home when they’re sick. And don’t send mixed messages. In other words, don’t show sympathy for an employee’s illness but also disappointment when she decides to skip the launch meeting and leave early. Make health a priority with both your words and your actions. Don’t just let sick employees leave: order them to go home.
2. Discourage a culture of heroism. Not only should you send sick employees home, but you should encourage them to do the same for each other. Don’t cultivate praise and admiration for those who struggle into the office with 104 degree fevers. This is foolish, dangerous, and thoughtless, not a sign of dedication.
3. Keep shared surfaces clean. Every doorknob, elevator button, mouse, and “start” key on the copy machine should get a dose of alcohol based hand-sanitizer at least once or twice a day. Keep a bottle positioned close to these surfaces and keep one at the front desk and one in every bathroom.
4. Coach employees to cough and sneeze into the crook of the arm, not the hand. Use your own behavior to set a good example.
5. Encourage employees to leave the building at least once a day. For lunch, a midday trip to the gym, or a quick walk around the block, everybody should have a dose of fresh air and sunlight at least once during every eight hour period. With hats and appropriate outerwear, of course.
6. Cold and flu aren’t the only health threat this season—You’ll also need to prevent injuries related to wet floors and icy sidewalks and parking lots. Keep a close eye on exterior and interior maintenance, especially after a snowfall.
Pay attention to the health and well-being of your employees and you’ll dramatically cut down on lost work hours. For more information on how to do this, reach out to the NC staffing and management experts at PSU.