People have been dropping like flies (flu-filled flies) at our office for the past few months. And when you’re a small business, it can be hard to have employees out sick, especially if it’s more than one at once. But when you’re in the middle of what is clearly a nationwide flu epidemic, what’s a small business owner to do?
Never fear! We’re going to help you prevent the plague from hitting your office with three great flu prevention tips below:
Lysol – The Disinfectant of Champions
There’s a co-worker in our office, who shall remain nameless, who sprays a cloud of Lysol around his cubicle at the mere hint of a sneeze or cough — and not just his own. We ridicule him about it endlessly, but it turns out his germaphobe ways might be the very reason he’s been able to stay healthy the past few months despite having at least three to four co-workers stricken with the flu.
A study conducted by University of Arizona germ expert Dr. Charles Gerba not only agrees with our Lysol-loving co-worker, but proves why disinfecting your cubicle on a regular basis is so important. Why is this? The study found that “The average desk contains about 400 times more germs than a toilet seat.” Yuck.
Makes you want to run out and buy some Lysol for the entire office, doesn’t it? Actually, supplying your employees with a disinfectant like Lysol or disinfectant wipes — and encouraging them to use them properly — is a great way to cut down on the spread of germs in your office.
*Note: Proper use of a disinfectant does not normally involve spraying half the can at once until your co-workers choke on the fumes. Yes, we’re talking to you, co-worker (who shall remain nameless.)
The Flu Shot – It’s Not Just for Old People Anymore
A great way to keep your employees healthy and out of the flu’s evil clutches is by recommending they get their flu shots. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that, “While there are many different flu viruses, a flu vaccine protects against the three viruses that research suggests will be most common.”
And if you were holding out hope that this flu pandemic was almost over, think again! “Flu season usually peaks in January or February, but it can occur as late as May,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.
If you can afford it, covering the cost of your employees’ flu shots — if they’re willing to get one – is a great way to prevent the flu from hitting your office. Can’t afford to cover the cost of the shot? Designate a “flu-shot day” instead where anyone who wants to get vaccinated can leave the office a little early to do so.
Hand Washing – You’re Doing It Wrong
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen people apply the two-second rule to hand washing. Do they really think barely running their hands under water with a tiny drop of soap is going to do them any good?
Yes, I’ve secretly been watching and judging – but I’ve done it all while singing “Happy Birthday” in my head while I (thoroughly) wash my own hands. And guess what? I haven’t been sick this year – or last year – either.
Why “Happy Birthday?” Check out what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had to say about the proper hand-washing steps to take:
- Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold) and apply soap.
- Rub your hands together to make a lather and scrub them well; be sure to scrub the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
- Continue rubbing your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
- Rinse your hands well under running water.
- Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.
You can remind your employees about the importance of washing their hands by printing out the above steps and hanging them in your office’s kitchen and restroom to ensure your team knows the proper way to help prevent the spread of germs. You can also keep your office stocked with hand sanitizer to further help your small business fight off the flu and other illnesses throughout the year.
Bonus Flu-Prevention Tip: We know it’s hard having employees out sick, but encouraging them to stay home when they’re feeling ill is crucial to ensuring the rest of your staff doesn’t become bed-ridden, germ-harboring influenza victims too.
You can help put a stop to the flu by encouraging your team to stay home for at least 24 hours after their fever is gone. Keep in mind that the fever needs to be gone on its own – and not due to a fever-reducing medication – or the contagious ones can still spread their illnesses to other co-workers, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns.