As we pass out of the holiday season it’s time to say goodbye to twinkle lights and garland and hello to something much less welcome: flu season. The winter months are notorious as a time when sickness can rapidly spread and cost your company big bucks in lost productivity. Worst of all, your company culture and employee morale are likely to take a hit when your office isn’t as healthy as usual.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. employers lose an average of $10.4 billion dollars as a direct result of the flu season. If you want to maintain a healthy company culture, you can’t ignore the dark and germ-filled winter months. So just how do you keep your employees from falling victim to flu season?
Here are some ways to keep your office healthy and maintain your company culture in the process:
Encourage sick employees to stay home
In today’s tough economy, more employees are dragging themselves out of bed and into the office to avoid taking off sick time. In fact, a recent Staples survey showed 80 percent of office workers come in even when they’re ill. Initially this might not sound like such a bad deal: less time wasted and more productivity! If they’re well enough to come in they must be well enough to work right? Well, maybe not.
If workers come in still contagious, they’ll be likely to spread the cold around to everyone else in the office. It’s estimated the flu is responsible for 70 million missed work days a year. Even if your staff manages to make it into the office, they certainly won’t be performing at optimum speed with a fever.
Plus you don’t want your company culture to be a place where workers feel like they can’t afford to take a sick day, even when they’re seriously ill. You want employees to know your company has a corporate culture which cares about the health of its employees. Instead, encourage employees to stay clear of the office when they’re sick. If you still desperately need a worker for something, figure out a more flexible work-from-home option so they can still contribute without contaminating.
Clean, clean, clean
Perhaps the reason so many workers get sick during the winter months is because so many of us are actually office slobs. According to the same Staples survey, only about half of workers clean their desks even once a week. Since germs can live on surfaces like keyboards for up to three days, cleanliness is a key component to a healthy office environment.
Make cleaning a priority in your corporate culture, especially during the winter months. You can even make this fun for your employees. Perhaps you might want to incentivize the cleaning process by giving out a little award or perk for the cleanest desk. It could be something as small as a little trophy to something as sought after as a great parking spot. Using some employee appreciation and recognition will go a long way towards making your company culture a cleaner (and healthier) place.
Get some fresh air
If you want your office to get (and stay) healthy, perhaps the best thing you can do is make getting out of the office a priority. Whether you have a gym in your building or you just take a stroll around the parking lot, exercise can help your office stave off illness. Plus it can work as a great way to improve your corporate culture with some team bonding.
Use breaks or lunchtime as an excuse to get workers moving and into action. Not only will this help your employees avoid infection, it can also improve the overall health of your corporate culture. If you have healthier workers you’ll be less likely to lose precious hours of productivity to sick days. Better yet, a brief turn in the fresh air will allow workers to take a step away from their problems and come back to tackle these issues refreshed and invigorated.
Putting health first during flu season might not seem like much, but it can actually save you a lot of time and money. More importantly, it can help your corporate culture by branding your company as a place where the health and well-being of its employees are truly valued.
What are some ways your can improve your company culture by focusing on keeping your workers healthy during flu season? Share in the comments.
IMAGE: Courtesy of Flickr by Brian Reid.