These 4 tips will reduce the spread of flu in the workplace

The flu causes absenteeism to spike every year. Up to 15% of Belgian employees are felled by this infectious disease for 3 to 6 days a year. Use these four effective measures to keep the virus from spreading around the workplace.

It is obvious that those who have been hit by the flu should stay at home. But it is not enough to keep the annual flu – which can reach epidemic proportions – outside the company walls. Because if you catch the flu, you can infect others a day before the first symptoms appear. Moreover, employees can sometimes be flu carriers without actually having any complaints, for example because their own immune system can cope with the virus. These ‘carriers’ can also infect colleagues.

Keeping the flu out of the workplace completely is almost impossible. As an employer, it is therefore better for you to take measures to prevent the spread of the virus. These four tips can help you on your way.

1. Underline the importance of discreet sneezing and coughing

Employees can spread the flu virus when they sneeze or cough. Employees can avoid passing the virus on to each other by covering their mouths and using paper tissues. Therefore, give these tips to your employees:

  • Do not sneeze or cough towards other people.
  • Always cough into a paper tissue and throw it away immediately after use.
  • Don’t have a tissue? Cough into your elbow or against your forearm – not into your hands.

2. Remind employees of the importance of careful hand hygiene

Good hand hygiene helps to reduce germs. Provide sufficient soap and disposable paper towels, set a good example, and raise awareness among employees about washing their hands correctly.

Download the free poster ‘10 steps to good hand hygiene’ here.

Also share these tips with your employees:

  • Wash your hands after each visit to the toilet and before and after every meal.
  • Take off jewellery when you wash your hands.
  • Get your hands wet over your wrists.
  • Handles and taps can spread germs. Touch them as little as possible with your bare hands.

3. Ensure adequate ventilation

Adequate ventilation in the workplace is also crucial. If the ventilation is poor, viruses will linger longer and spread more easily. Sufficient ventilation and a modern, well-maintained ventilation system makes it harder for the flu virus to spread.

4. Protect employees with a flu vaccine

A vaccine reduces the risk of flu by an average of 80%. Firstly, vaccinated employees are less likely to run the risk of contracting the virus themselves, at work or outside of it. If you do get the flu, you will recover faster and have less chance of complications, such as pneumonia or bronchitis.

Contrary to what many claim, the vaccine does not cause the flu. The vaccine contains a non-active virus that prepares the body for a flu attack. People may get a fever in very rare cases.

The cost of vaccination is negligible if you look at the whole picture: vaccines have twice as much return on investment.