Preparing Your Business for the Next Cold or Flu Season or Even Another Pandemic

viruses cold, flu, covid

It happens every year and yet we never seem quite ready for it – cold and flu season. While many people get the flu vaccine, it doesn’t necessarily work on every strain out there (though it does help). The common cold is just that – common. Almost everyone gets one or two a year and yet we’re left searching for a box of tissues when we really need them.

A study published in the medical journal Vaccine found that U.S. employees miss up to 111 million workdays annually because of the flu, resulting in an estimated $16.3 billion in lost earnings each year.

Whether it’s the common cold, influenza or even a pandemic, it pays to be prepared and personal hygiene is key. With that in mind, here are a few tips to keep your business ready for the next cold or flu season or even the next pandemic.

Prioritize Handwashing

The importance of handwashing has never been more obvious than right now. After a year and more of a pandemic, everyone should know that washing your hands is the simplest way to reduce the spread of disease. But, that doesn’t always mean we remember. Here are a few tips to promote handwashing in your workplace:

  • Post signs in restrooms to remind people to wash their hands.
  • Add handwashing stations in locations where restrooms are not easily located.
  • Post “Workers must wash hands before returning to work” signs. They not only remind your staff to practice proper hygiene, but they work as reminders to visitors as well.
  • Make sure sinks are well-stocked with soap, and make hand sanitizer available throughout your facility

Cover that Cough

Everyone knows that they should cover their cough, but that doesn’t mean they do it 100% of the time. Signs that gently remind people to cover their coughs and offer tips on how to do it properly can help increase the likelihood that everyone will cover their coughs and reduce the amount of airborne bacteria or viruses.

Sanitizing Made Easy

Viruses and bacteria can live on surfaces. That means it’s important to sanitize both high-touch-point surfaces as well as our hands on a regular basis. Adding sanitation stations is a simple way to help employees keep their hands clean when they can’t be near a faucet. Signs that remind workers to sanitize common areas or equipment after use can also help keep things clean. It’s a combination of having the right sanitizing products on hand as well as making it easy for your employees to remember to utilize them that gets it done.

Educate and Inform

Sometimes you have to go beyond just a simple reminder. Signs and posters that help workers understand the right way to wash their hands, cover their cough, or other guidelines can be a great way to get everyone thinking about hygiene and safety during the cold and flu season.

Be Prepared for Illness in the Workplace

Inevitably, someone will come to work feeling fine but start to feel ill while on the job. That’s okay, but you want to have a plan in place. If need be, create a sick room or quarantine room where they can stay until they are able to go home or to seek medical attention. Be sure the room is clearly marked so it does not get used for other things.

Social Distancing and Masks

Most people simply are not going to wear a mask for cold or flu season. But when something larger comes along, like a pandemic, face masks are essential for minimizing the spread of the disease. Unfortunately, people don’t always remember to wear their masks or maintain social distancing. Signs that remind people to wear masks, declare your business’s mask policy and encourage social distancing can help. Floor markers spread six feet apart make it easy for people in lines to know just where to stand while maintaining their distance.

Following these precautions can help protect your workers – and your business – from colds, influenza or even a pandemic.