5 Ways to Prevent and Manage Illness in the Workplace
When running a small business, it’s important to keep your business safe and clean to help prevent the spread of illnesses.
If you have a tiny team, sicknesses like the common cold and the flu can spread quickly and lead to undesired business outcomes. Below are the things you’ll want to keep in mind to minimize the risk of illnesses in your business.
Practice Healthy Habits Year-Round
Typically, the fall and winter months are hit hardest by colds and the flu because people are spending more time indoors where it’s easier for germs to spread. When temperatures get warmer, and people become more worried about allergies than the flu, it’s common for strict healthy practices to slide a bit. To keep your small business healthy, have an emphasis on basic healthy habits throughout the year. Keep your business stocked with hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes and sprays, and soap. Encourage employees to either wipe down their specific workstations weekly or have set aside some time each week to have everybody clean common areas together. While spring cleaning is a huge focus every year, try to make time each quarter for a thorough deep clean. Staying on top of cleaning throughout the year can reduce sickness experienced during those tougher months.
Review Your Sick Time Policy
It is a standard business practice to offer paid sick days to employees. Sick days will allow your employees to take the time needed to rest and get over any illness they are experiencing without bringing that into your business. When business owners don’t offer sick time, employees will typically push through because they want to get paid, and that can cause even more problems for your business. The U.S. Department of Labor doesn’t have strict guidelines on offering sick days, but typically sick days increase based on the number of years an employee has worked for a company.
Implement A Work From Home Policy
Not every small business is going to be able to offer a work from home policy, but for the businesses that can, it’s something to consider. Some employees may not feel well enough to come in, but could still get work done at home. Offering that flexibility is a win for your small business because your employees will be keeping anything contagious at home, but still can work to help you meet business goals. When creating a work from home policy, you’ll want to align on the best methods to communicate with your team and set some ground rules to keep everybody on the same page.
Keep Employees Informed
In the event of a natural disaster or pandemic, like COVID-19, employees will likely be scared and confused about what’s happening. In these situations, information can spread quickly and cause panic. Try to keep everyone calm by sharing information from trusted sources, like the CDC, in the event of an outbreak. Additionally, it’s wise to create a business continuity plan for your small business to ensure you have a plan in place in the event an outbreak or natural disaster is set to impact your business. Healthy measures throughout the year can make managing this slightly easier, along with consistently having cleaning supplies and hand sanitizer on hand.
Distribute An Employee Handbook
Even if you only have a handful of employees, a document like an employee handbook can help communicate these important workplace policies. Examples of health items to include in your employee handbook are:
- Sick time policies
- Work from home policy
- Information related to federal laws like FMLA
- Business continuity plan
An employee handbook should be a living document that gets updated and re-shared as needed as some policies may evolve.
At times it may seem challenging to prevent and minimize illness in your small business, but with some proper planning in place, you can keep your team healthy. The biggest thing to keep in mind is health should be a focus year-round, and if a larger outbreak does impact your business, you’ll be better equipped to handle it.
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