Work and Wellbeing · 30 January 2020

5 ways to manage the spread of sickness in your office

The first Monday in February is the day when employees are most likely to call in sick. Otherwise known as National Sickie Day, it hampers productivity and piles on the workload for remaining staff members.

Bouts of sickness are rampant at this time of year, including coughs, colds and bugs. Therefore, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to employers that so many employees are calling in sick. Add the winter weather and sickness with commuting and public transport, and you’ve got the perfect storm for high levels of staff absences.

The good news is that employers can start making changes in the office that will cut down on the spread of contagion. All that’s needed is a small budget for cleaning products, and a quick chat with HR, who can easily communicate what the new hygiene practises are.

Here’s what you can do to make a start:

1. Make them stay at home

Many employees feel the pressure to come into work even when they are sick. While they might think this shows their dedication, in reality, they will only spread on the germs, infecting the office and lowering staff productivity overall. If they are able to work at all, let them work from home while they recover. The recovery period should also be quicker without the stress of commuting.

2. Ensure there’s plenty of tissues

Make sure your office has plenty of tissue boxes and bins available. It is also worth making signs on your notice board, or simply informing your staff verbally or via email that sneezing or coughing into hands spread germs faster. Also remind them to dispose of used tissues immediately, not leaving them on desks to contaminate others.

3. Buy antibacterial handwash

Having an abundance of antibacterial handwash in office bathrooms should encourage employees to wash their hands thoroughly and limit their chance of infecting others, or spreading their own germs. Having ‘wash your hands’ signs in bathrooms is also a good idea. A communal hand washing area could also encourage everyone to wash their hands properly, especially if others are watching!

4. Provide hand sanitiser gel

Just like you provide toilet paper and handwash, provide staff with hand sanitiser gel too. Make clear that it’s for communal use, placing them on desks, in the kitchen or anywhere where they are easy to spot. There are countless times during a working day where employees share a telephone, a computer keyboard or open and close a door, meaning they are picking up and transmitting germs constantly. Remind them that hand sanitiser gel should be applied after doing all these things, as it could stop sickness in its tracks.

5. Make them use disinfectant wipes

Ensure you have disinfectant wipes stocked in your office kitchen for employees to use to clean their eating and working spaces. All too often, staff leave crumbs and other remanents of food across their workspaces, encouraging the spread of germs. Make them desk proud and germ-free by encouraging this practice.

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