September 12th, 2023, 8:56 AM

Every year, it's estimated that at least 9 million Americans catch the flu. Of these cases, at least 140,000 end in hospitalizations, while 12,000 end in death. Even mild cases of the flu can spread quickly in the workplace, endangering your employees and shutting down your business if enough people are too sick to work. So how do you prevent the flu in the workplace? 

Recognizing the Flu

In order to avoid the flu, you have to recognize it when it occurs. Influenza, more commonly known as the flu, is a highly contagious, respiratory-based viral infection. While there are many variations of the influenza virus, they share many common symptoms, including:

  • Fever
  • Sore throat
  • A persistent cough
  • Congestion
  • Chills, fatigue, or body aches
  • Headache
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

The flu is most common in colder months; however, it's possible to catch it year-round. Those with pre-existing conditions such as asthma or diabetes, children two and younger, pregnant women, and the elderly are all at greater risk of flu-based complications. It's also dangerous for anyone with a weakened immune system for reasons such as chemotherapy, HIV, or anti-rejection drugs for organ transplants. 

How Can It Spread?

The flu virus mainly spreads via contaminated droplets from infected people. When someone with the flu sneezes, coughs, or even talks, these droplets can enter the mouths, noses, or eyes of people around them. They can also land on nearby surfaces, such as desks or tables. If someone touches an infected surface and then touches their face without washing their hands, they may become infected. 

Many work environments are full of opportunities for the flu to spread. Enclosed spaces such as break rooms and elevators can put healthy employees in close proximity to infected ones. Desks, phones, and doorknobs are excellent places for contamination to spread from person to person. Even a professional handshake can become a method for spreading the flu if your employees don't wash their hands regularly. 

5 Tips for Flu Prevention at Work 

While the flu is highly contagious, it's not impossible to avoid, even in the workplace. Here are five tips for keeping your office safe and flu-free during the flu season: 

1. Promote the Flu Vaccine

The yearly flu vaccine is one of the best ways to protect against new strains of influenza, but between a busy schedule and the common fear of needles, many go without it. Promoting the benefits of flu vaccination in the workplace will encourage your employees to get vaccinated. 

Some of your employees may have reservations about getting vaccinated due to the spread of misinformation about vaccine safety. This information is easily disproved by current studies, so if possible, guide your employees toward up-to-date information. Remember, unless you have a medical reason you can't be vaccinated, there's no reason not to get a flu shot. 

2. Keep the Office Clean 

Because the flu can be transmitted via infected surfaces, it's important to keep your workplace as clean as possible. Wipe down counters, desks, and doorknobs, especially ones that are frequently used. 

3. Encourage Handwashing

While your employees should be doing this anyway, regular handwashing is vital in keeping the flu at bay. Encourage your employees to wash their hands frequently, especially if they've touched their face. It's also good to have hand sanitizer available for quickly cleaning your hands. 

4. Offer Flexible Sick Leave

One of the best methods of preventing the flu in your workplace is to keep confirmed cases away. Having flexible sick days means you won't be exposing healthy employees to infected ones. Encourage your employees to use those days when sick—working hard is admirable, but employee health should come first! 

5. Implement Work-from-Home Policies

If your employees are only experiencing mild symptoms and you're short-staffed, you can implement work-from-home policies as an alternative for additional sick days. With work-from-home policies, your employees can be productive without exposing others to the flu. 

Fight the Flu with Mobile Medical Corporation 

If you're concerned about an influenza outbreak at your workplace, don't worry—Mobile Medical Corporation has you covered. We offer a wide variety of workplace health services, including on-site clinics, in order to ensure your employees stay healthy on the job and are sent home when they should be. Contact us today and take the first step towards a safer workplace. 


Return to all Blog