As the weather gets colder and the days get shorter, flu season looms. You see flu shot signs as you drive by local pharmacies and employers start to put a plan together to prevent flu from decreasing productivity in the office and crippling the workforce.
As they should. The CDC estimates that the flu costs American businesses $7 billion in sick days annually. That's a lot of time and money spent on recovering from something preventable.
To help you combat the inevitable flu season and improve employee health, here are our three suggestions:
1. Stock up on healthy items in-office.
Whether it’s healthy snacks, disinfecting wipes or hand sanitizer, make sure employees have the tools to keep themselves healthy at work. Desks, keyboards and phones can be germ magnets so keeping employees healthy from the inside out and eliminating surface germs are especially important in minimize the flu impact on your staff.
One tool that will come in handy is a gift card to CVS Pharmacy®. There, employees can purchase what they need to prevent the flu or to manage symptoms, and they'll know they did it with your help.
2. Be flexible for those who need it.
There’s nothing worse than a sick employee in the office. They spread germs and often aren’t operating at full productivity. Give employees the flexibility to work from home if they are sick, as well as providing flexibility on sick days. Remember, the flu can last for over a week so keeping sick employees out of the office often goes beyond the sick day allowance. Be flexible with your employees' working hours so they can get the rest and space they need (away from other employees) to come back at full strength and full motivation.
3. Remind them that a flu shot is an option.
The CDC estimates that a flu shot reduces flu risk by an estimated 40-60%. Make sure your employees know they can get vaccinated to prevent coming down with the flu, and that many health insurance plans fully cover the cost of a flu shot. This would be a great time to educate about employee health benefits.
However you choose to get your office and your workforce ready for flu season, planning ahead is a definite key to success to employee health. Tangible rewards, like gift cards, have become an effective engagement tool for rewarding participants who adopt and stick with healthy behaviors. CVS/Pharmacy gift cards can be an easy to administer part of any flu prevention plan.