The end of year is upon us, and with all the good, festive, and positive things that the close of the year brings, it is also a season for colds, flus, and viruses to spread. Absences due to illness can be big problem for many businesses at this time of year and a difficult one to avoid. However, some simple preparations can greatly reduce illness at your place of business so that employees can continue to work productively and in good health. While onsite medical care and comprehensive health plans are ideal offerings, small businesses just starting out cannot always offer such an array of expensive options. Keeping yourself and your employees in good health can be challenging, but there are some ways to cut down on health-related absenteeism during the busy holiday season.
When feasible, allowing people to work from home can make a big impact on the spread of illness in the office. When people feel compelled to show up for work when they aren’t feeling up to it, everyone in the office is at risk. Enabling remote work allows people to keep working without taking a “sick day” and potentially spreading germs to others. Remote work helps maintain a higher level of productivity by allowing people who are only a little under the weather—or those who are not sick but need to care for sick children at home—to still get much of their work done. Cloud-based tech tools for businesses offer 24/7 online access, enabling a seamless transition to remote work when needed. Online software programs that integrate with one another provide mobile access and real-time updates so that everyone can stay connected.
We’ve all spent the last two years inundated with reminders about routine hygiene habits that reduce the spread of colds and viruses. Many of these habits have become second nature, and a little prompting to continue them can help keep the spread of illness at bay. Keeping tissues, disposable towels, and hand sanitizer around the office encourages people to take the extra steps toward reducing germs.
Taking short breaks has been shown to reduce stress and contribute to better physical and emotional well-being. If the weather permits, employees may want to go outside or take a short walk or bike ride. Moving around throughout the day reduces the amount of time that people have to spend confined together. If you or your staff bring snacks to the office—as many do during the holidays—it can be helpful to add in some healthy offerings as well as water so that people stay as fit and hydrated as possible.
A professional cleaning service can be useful this time of year to maintain a high level of cleanliness around the office. Sanitizing the heavily-used equipment (like phones and keyboards) and high-touch surfaces (like doorknobs, light switches, and cabinet handles) reduces the spread of germs on items with which people come into frequent contact. Keeping break rooms, restrooms, and other commonly-shared spaces clean and sanitized is even more important during the winter and holiday months than ever.
Helping employees stay healthy is a high priority for many business owners. High absentee rates reduce productivity and diminish morale. When illnesses do occur and require people to take time off, it helps to have a few strategies in place for reducing the disruption to productivity and workflow. Cross-training employees for various roles, for example, helps managers redelegate important tasks temporarily during high levels of employee absence. Freelancers can also be a good resource for temporary or part-time assistance, as well, to help ease the burden when sick workers cannot come in. And, of course, integrating technology is often an economical and practical way to automate routine administrative and accounting tasks so that important processes can continue to run smoothly even when workers are absent. Digital innovations have helped small businesses automate and streamline company processes successfully so that managing the appointments, paperwork, and financial records can continue without disruption or error, even during the busy and stressful holiday season.