Four simple ways to stop the spread of office germs

Sick and tired of paying staff to work when they’re sick and tired? Here’s how to make the office a healthy environment and slash absenteeism.

Four simple ways to stop the spread of office germs
According to the New Zealand Wellness in the Workplace report half of genuinely sick employees would come to work more often than not – something offices should be cautious of as summer bugs make their rounds.

So what can HR do to increase productivity and avoid the spread of germs?

Encourage telecommuting:  According to CareerBuilder, 20% of workers in the past year worked from home while they were ill. That small figure means that many companies are missing out on the productivity that sick workers could provide if they arranged to telecommute on sick days. This will encourage contagious workers who are stingy with their paid time off not to come into the office.

Provide sanitation stations: Just having hand sanitiser available for employees to use can slash the germs floating about the office. A University of Arizona study found that providing offices with disinfecting wipes and sanitiser before lunch and after meetings reduced risk of infection from 90% to 10% for cold, flu and stomach viruses. "Most people think its coughing and sneezing that spreads germs, but the number of objects you touch is incredible, especially in this push-button generation. We push more buttons than any other generation in history,” said UA professor Charles Gerba, co-principal investigator on the study.

Get support of senior management: It’s much easier to take HR messages seriously when upper management is being consistent with the vision. This is a key strategy for PMSI, which was listed among America’s top 100 healthiest employers for 2014. PMSI senior vice president of human resources, Betsy Irizarry, said it was easy to encourage employees to take the health of their office seriously because the company made it a wider priority with compulsory physical exercise activities and financial commitments to support health. “The organisation really has to be committed to showing employees that they’re committed to their health. You cannot expect people to follow the lead of not coming to work sick when you have management not supporting that environment,” she said.

Bring medical services in-house: Even if you can’t afford an on-site clinic, a yearly flu vaccination provided in the office is a simple way to reduce absenteeism when winter comes around.

Related articles:
Sick leave costing the economy $1.3 billion
Top sectors for taking fake sick days revealed
Are people predisposed to claiming too many fake sick days?

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