Is Your Small Business Prepared for The Flu?

With most of the country still battling winter temperatures, the flu epidemic is gaining strength.  As a small business owner you have more to worry about than just yourself, your family and friends – what about your team?  Every flu season 15-60 million Americans come down with the flu virus.  With an extremely high number of cases reported this season, now more than ever it is important to prepare and protect your business.

Understand How it’s Spread

The flu virus starts to spread when an infected person expels their germs from their nose or mouth by sneezing or coughing.  Initial contact with these airborne particles can make someone sick, but in a lot of cases touching something the infected person contaminated and then touching your mouth or nose or rubbing your eyes will transfer the virus into your body.

Clean House

Whether you run a restaurant, auto shop or medical office, any work setting can benefit from readily available tissue boxes and hand sanitizers.  Investing in some Clorox wipes where each employee can surface clean their workspace to prevent germ spread is a good idea as well.  Door handles, telephones, light switches and computer keyboards still rank among the highest germ ridden surfaces- so be sure to disinfect those areas regularly.

Ask Your Employees to Help

Take a moment to address the epidemic and remind people of flu-saving practices like washing hands frequently and avoid touching one’s face.  Give employees a checklist to run through each morning before they come in.  They should think twice if they are experiencing any of the following symptoms: fever, runny or stuffy nose, persistent cough, sore throat, body aches, chills, diarrhea or vomiting.

Also stress to your team the importance of a healthy diet and sleep; people who contract the flu over others usually can blame a weakened immune system.  Hydrating with 9-13 glasses of liquid a day and avoiding unnecessary stress are also keys to avoiding getting sick.

Prepare For the Worst

While compensating for an absent employee and dishing out sick leave is not ideal, consider the alternative; one unsure infected employee comes to work and contaminates your entire staff.  This type of behavior has been coined as “Presenteeism” when an employee shows up to work no matter what – even when sick.  Remind people of your sick day policy and for the sake of your business – encourage infected employees to stay home.

In addition to encouraging employees to use their sick days, put a plan into action now as to ways people can work from home if they have to take off. Even after a fever is broken, doctors recommend a person should still wait at least 24 hours before returning to work.  Emails and Skype can assist employees on the mend to work from home, resting up while also minimizing exposure to the rest of the team.  Identify someone within your business (i.e. HR rep, Admin. Assistant) to act as a point person so employees can easily get more information on sick leave, notifications, etc.

If all goes well your business will sail past flu season unharmed.  But just in case…put these steps into practice now before the bug bites someone (or worse, everyone) on your team.

How has your small business been affected by flu season?

About the Author: Kelly Gregorio

Kelly Gregorio writes about topics that affect small businesses while working at Merchant Resources International, a merchant cash advance provider. Kelly engages in a community conversation by investigating relevant topics and news for entrepreneurs.

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