Flu & the Workplace: 3 Ways Employers Can Support the Health of Their Employees
As we approach the start of this year’s flu season, one thing on employers’ minds is how to keep their staff healthy and productive. It’s no wonder when studies have shown that a severe flu season can translate to an incredible number of employees being out sick. According to the US Department of Labor, a case of the flu puts workers out of commission for an average of 2.8 days. This adds up quickly.
During the 2012-2013 flu season, one of the most severe in the past decade, an estimated 230 million workdays were lost according to a study conducted by Walgreens. The 2017-2018 flu season we just experienced may well even eclipse this number, once all of the data is in. This adds up to a serious loss of productivity for employers to the tune of $30 billion, not to mention the billions of dollars of lost wages for employees that don’t have sufficient sick leave.
There are a number of things that employers can do to help mitigate the impacts of the flu on their business and their employees:
Offer Flu Shots
According to the CDC, the flu vaccine prevented an estimated 5.3 million illnesses during the 2016-2017 flu season, but there were still nearly 57% of adults that did not get their influenza vaccination. It has been shown that every $1 spent by employers on vaccinations contributes to a $3.27 decrease in medical costs and $2.75 in savings on absenteeism costs.
2. Encourage Sick Employees to Stay Home
According to a Walgreens study, nearly 80% of employees surveyed who had the flu still went to work at some point. This is in spite of the fact that most of these employees knew they may be contagious. Whether its lack of time off, concern over workloads, or other pressure to be in the office, these employees were making decisions that placed their colleagues at risk for getting the flu. Most people are contagious for up to 24 hours after being fever-free, but people with weakened immune systems may be contagious for a couple of weeks because their body has a harder time completely eliminating the virus from their bodies.
3. Invest in Better Office Disinfection
According to the Mayo Clinic, the flu virus may remain viable on surfaces, particularly hard, non-porous surfaces for up to 48 hours. When someone comes into contact with these contaminated surfaces, they pick up the virus on their hands, which if they rub their eyes, nose, or mouth places them at risk for infection with the virus. Therefore, improved disinfection can help reduce this risk for employees.
However, manual cleaning methods have their own challenges from their inability to comply with the lengthy recommended surface contact times for chemicals, missing areas or not regularly cleaning objects like keyboards and office phones, and the cost of labor required to execute a full manual cleaning regimen.
New technologies like the S.A.G.E. (Surface & Air Germ Elimination) UV disinfection products from Violet Defense can kill up to 99% of the influenza virus anywhere the light touches. It does so without the introduction of chemicals, and it can be used in both mobile and installed options. The installed options, in particular, require no ongoing labor costs to operate as the units can be programmed to run autonomously. Violet Defense can provide the solution for your office that will help reduce the risk of the flu spreading.
For more information, contact the team at Violet Defense to begin protecting your employees and customers from the flu today.