In preparation for the 2020-21 influenza season, it’s important to be informed about the proper precautions and vaccinations that need to be taken in order to prevent the spread of illness. Influenza — a contagious respiratory infection caused by flu viruses — tends to peak between the months of December and February. The past few flu seasons have unfortunately come with high hospitalizations and mortality rates, so health experts are worried about how this flu season will play out alongside the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Employers and employees will have to face the challenges of operating business during both flu season and a global pandemic. That is why employers must ensure that their health, and that of their employees, is taken care of at all times with the right employee benefits.
Preparation Tips For Flu Season
Take Extra Steps When Cleaning
Going above and beyond with cleaning, especially in shared areas such as break rooms or restrooms, is going to be essential to staying healthy this flu season. Consider providing hand sanitizing stations for employees and always disinfect frequently touched items like door knobs and faucets. It’s also highly recommended to plan ahead for shortages of paper towels and soap as these are essential sanitation items for a workplace. By taking these precautionary measures and encouraging cleanliness, we can help fight the curve this flu season and ensure businesses stay open.
Keep Up With Social Distancing
These last 8 months have taught us all a great deal about staying healthy and the proper measures it takes to prevent the spread of a disease. Luckily, social distancing and mask wearing are also extremely effective at preventing the spread of the flu. That’s why businesses should not ease up on these policies as they will be beneficial during the flu season as well. It’s also vital for your company to keep an eye on local COVID-19 and flu cases to mitigate the early spread of the flu this season.
Stay Home If Sick
Advise all employees to stay home if feeling sick. The CDC recommends that individuals with a fever or respiratory symptoms stay home until 24 hours after their fever ends without the use of fever-reducing medication. Although your employees may want to push through and work, it is not safe for any individual who is sick to go to the office and interact with fellow workers. Make it clear that employees won’t be punished for a medical absence and give them the assurance to go home, rest, and come back when feeling better.
Encourage Hygiene And Respiratory Etiquette
This may be your first time hearing about respiratory etiquette but it’s something important to highlight this flu season. Respiratory etiquette is educating employees on how to properly cover their coughs and sneezes using tissues or the side of their arm. Teaching people how to safely cough and sneeze will limit the amount of germs in the air and ensure employees stay safe in the office. Additionally, employers can encourage hygiene by providing easy access to tissues, trash cans, and running water/soap in the workplace.
Identify And Communicate With High Risk Employees
You may have someone working for you that is at high risk during this year’s flu season. Identifying which employees are most vulnerable to the flu can help prevent potential threats to their health. People considered at risk during the flu season are:
- Adults over the age of 65.
- People who are immunocompromised such as those with HIV, hepatitis, and cancer.
- Pregnant women.
- People with chronic medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease, and lung disease.
Whether one of your employees is a pregnant woman or an adult with asthma, they are at a higher risk working in a public office, so having a discussion with them about the safest approach to their job can be of great benefit. Keep in mind that employee privacy should always be upheld, so any discussion regarding medical conditions should be done so in private. Flu vaccination is especially important for any employee who may be at high risk and finding a way for them to potentially work from home temporarily could be necessary as well.
Get Vaccinated If Possible
After all is set and done, getting vaccinated is the best prevention for the flu. Remind employees about the benefits of getting a flu shot and the ability to get a free flu shot with healthcare coverage — if applicable. To best prevent the spread in the workplace, offer on site flu shots at the office even if you do not offer healthcare. Ensuring that employees are protected and that your business runs smoothly is of the utmost importance in the upcoming flu season. Additionally, urgency is key for flu shots as it takes about two weeks to develop antibodies, so be sure to get one as soon as possible.
Prepare For Absences
With both COVID-19 and the flu, employee absences are going to be inevitable throughout the winter. Businesses must plan ahead and be prepared for unexpected absences. Take the time to go over attendance policies with employees and ensure that they fully understand not to come into work if they, or a family member, have any flu-like symptoms. Having a mass notification system for employees can help make shift management easier. Not only does this allow for employees to easily cover shifts, but it also streamlines communication within a business.
Protect The Health Of Your Workplace With Alltrust
In order for a business to function effectively and remain profitable, it is essential that employee health always stays a priority. The well-being of employees directly impacts productivity levels. As such, extra care should be placed when choosing an insurance plan in order to provide employees with the best possible benefits and ensure that unforeseen medical expenses are always covered. By working collectively with Alltrust Insurance, you can protect what’s most important to you and ensure your business effectively operates in the midst of a global pandemic and the seasonal flu.
This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. For further information, please consult a medical professional.