Air travel and doorknobs are probably the first places that come to mind when you think of the most effective routes of disease transmission. While these are notable places, the most common place to pick up the common cold or flu is the workplace. With flu season in full force, chances are you’re going to see some of your employees getting sick this time of year. Workplaces force employees to be in close proximity to each other for extended periods of time every day. When one of them is sick, everyone is at risk. However, there are some ways you can address illness in the workplace:
Review Your Sick Policy
Employers should review their company’s sick policy to see if it can be improved to minimize illness in the workplace. Many people value hard work and believe that even when ill, they should be working. Workers who insist on coming to work when they are sick must be stopped. When an ill person comes to work, he or she puts all other workers, their families, and even customers at risk. With tools like Skype and Google Drive, it is much easier to allow employees to work from home when sick if he or she insists on working.
Offer Sick Days
A new poll recently revealed that 51 percent of food service workers “always” go to work when sick. Another study by Staples reported that 90 percent of the American workforce admits to coming into work when they are not feeling well, and even when they know they are contagious. Contagious people means that more germs are spread around and increases the number of people who get sick.
Why do these workers go to work when they are sick? One surprising reason is that many of them do not earn sick days. This means that they must choose between their health and their pay. The US Department of Labor states that only about 53 percent of US employers offer paid sick time. Though there is a cost to the employer to offer paid sick time, it is a worthwhile investment because it can offset potential business losses.
It is important that your employees are properly educated on how easily diseases are spread. Employees should also know the difference between a cold and a flu virus when making decisions about when to go to work or stay home. Consider improving your workplace education on illness. For example, you could contact your local pharmacy and ask about setting up a vaccine clinic at work. Pharmacists can vaccinate workers for everything, from flu to pneumonia, right in the workplace. Even something as simple as spritzing work areas with Lysol can foster a healthier environment.
Encourage Sick Workers to Stay Home
While some people lie about being sick, and you may be hesitant to encourage workers to stay home, it is important to create a work environment where it is acceptable to stay home when you are sick. If you have hired good, hard workers, you will find that many will return to work quickly and will work even harder to get their tasks done. If you find that a certain employee seems to need sick time more often and might be taking advantage of your company policy, deal with that employee directly.
You can demonstrate your new policy by following the guidelines yourself, as well as paying for a reasonable amount of sick days for your employees. As a result, you will have fewer germs in the office which means fewer sick days needed overall. This is a big win for everyone.
The team at Optimum Employer Solutions is here to help you with developing your Sick Day policy, properly train staff about the spread of illness in the workplace, and offer a range of benefits to employees, including health care benefits. Contact our team today to learn more.