If you’ve ever gotten the flu, you know how horrible it makes you feel.
The upset stomach.
The constant excretion.
The runny nose.
The sore throat.
The pounding headaches.
The raging fever.
The list goes on.
When the flu is spreading rampantly, or any virus or infection is for that matter, it’s important to take note of these crucial tips to properly prevent your employees from absenteeism and the spread of sickness through their social circles.
1) Teach people how to sneeze and cough. No actually… Do it.
According to ABC NEWS (via WORLD NEWS), sneezing out into the open can launch bacteria up to 11 ft. away. When someone sneezes into his/her hands, the bacteria can still travel up to 3.5 ft. away, simultaneously coating his/her hands with bacteria. When someone sneezes into the inner side of his/her elbow, the bacteria can still travel a whopping 8.5 ft. away from him/her. When someone sneezes into a tissues, however, little to no bacteria spread beyond the inner side of the tissue. So, the obvious answer here is that you should teach your employees to sneeze and cough into a tissue.
What’s this mean for your workplace?
You need to invest in bulk packages of tissues. Spread them around the office like confetti. Place a tissue box on every single desk, in every single bathroom stall, along each section of each conference room table, next to all water coolers, next to the coffee maker, on the break room tables, near the refrigerator and all appliances, and anywhere else you can think of to make sure no one is more than one step away from clean tissues.
For one, because many people do not wash their hands after sneezing into them, it’s important to have a short, five-minute, office-wide meeting that shows people how to sneeze and cough. For two, this is actually necessary because people need to know that they should sneeze into their elbow if a tissue is not around to fully cover it. This might seem silly, but it is vital to office health. Coughs can travel at speeds of 50 mph or greater, and sneezes can travel up to 100 mph. When coughs and sneezes are not covered over by tissues, they can project into the air and linger there for hours or even days through the entire workspace the cough or sneeze happened!
2) Station antibacterial hand sanitizer at multiple, convenient locations throughout the workplace.
There’s a difference between antibacterial products and products that contain alcohol and bleach bases. Antibacterial products should only be used during times when people are sick, as they can provide a cozier breeding ground for super powered germs to grow, which gain the power to resist a cleansing chemical called triclosan in most antibacterials.
3) Hang instructional signs in bathrooms.
Hang a sign that instructs people on how to sneeze and cough after you demonstrate to the office on the proper way to do so. It’s a common phrase that people say, “I would forget my head if it weren’t attached to my shoulders.” It’s the same for general common knowledge, including your quick demonstration you gave in tip number one to your employees.
You should also hang a sign that instructs people on how to properly wash their hands. This includes rinsing and scrubbing all surfaces of one’s hands for twenty seconds or more. Spending twenty seconds of your time to wash your hands might seem minute, but when you are standing at the sink, it feels like a really long time that is not necessary. It is necessary, though. Hang tight! Encourage your employees to do the same, even if it makes them look like a germaphobe in the office bathrooms.