Fever, coughs and sneezes, OH MY! Flu season is here and with a new vengeance! Everywhere we turn in the news media today we are bombarded with warnings about H1N1 and the flu. Vaccination shortages, updates on the number of cases and warnings to stay home are almost a daily occurrence. We have heard about the impact on schools when large numbers of students are absent, but what about the impact to business, and what can we do?
First, think education. What are you doing to teach and remind your employees about the simple things that can be done to avoid the spread of germs? Frequent hand washing, use of hand sanitizers, and sneezing into your arm vs. your hands can go along way to reduce the spread of germs. Does your staff know that if they are running a fever they should stay home to avoid infecting others? This link is to a government Web site that contains additional suggestions for businesses on how to prepare your office: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/
Second, think about a good “housecleaning.” A March 2004 BBC News article reported that work stations contain 400 times as many germs as a restroom with the phone being the primary culprit containing 25,127 germs per square inch! By contrast, the average toilet seat contains 49 germs per square inch. Wow! If you think about it, most offices have cleaning companies that regularly disinfect the restrooms, but who disinfects the work stations? If you are like my office, it is the responsibility of the staff to clean their own areas. Make cleaning supplies readily available and instruct your employees about the importance of a clean work station, especially if you have staff sharing phones and keyboards, like at the front desk.
Third, think about cross-training key business tasks. Yes, I said cross-training! It is a great way to involve staff in key business objectives for short-term coverage; however, it is not always the best solution, especially if the illness may last several days. In the event you have a key person out due to illness, like your front desk staff, it might make sense to have other staff cover. Now, if that goes on for multiple days, what work is not getting done by others? In my office it is the sales staff that would help cover the front desk, that means lost sales and revenue. Not a good thought for any business!
Fourth, think contingency (temporary) staff. Establish a relationship with a staffing service that knows your company and culture and can identify a replacement candidate at a moments notice. Celebrity Staff specializes in administrative, management, and legal staff. It is often the administrative staff absences that can create the most havoc in an office, especially as businesses have become more lean during this last year. Contact an account manager to schedule an in-person visit and put your office contingency plan in place NOW, BEFORE you need it. You won’t have time to meet in person when the need is urgent ant the account manager won’t be able to respond as efficiently if they don’t know your company ahead of time.
With proper education and planning, your office will have no trouble working through the Cold and Flu season. Do you have additional tips to share on how to keep your office healthy and productive? Send your comments and let us know how you are preparing your office to slug the bug this season.
Patty North, CPC, Celebrity Staff Regional Manager
Patty has worked with Celebrity Staff for the last 15 years, 12 of those years in a management role directly supervising 75+ employees and indirectly supervising 400 employees throughout Nebraska and the Kansas City, MO area. As a certified personnel consultant with a bachelor’s degree in family and consumer sciences, Patty has served as an Advisory Board member of ICAN (Institute for Career Advancement Needs), is a past-president of the NE Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (NAFCS), and has been a guest speaker at the University of Nebraska – Omaha on topics ranging from resume writing to interviewing, as well as a presenter at Women’s Leadership Conference in addition to several other achievements. In her free time Patty enjoys spending time with her husband Dave and her step-daughter Bailey.