In addition to training and hosting flu shot clinics, businesses can enact additional flu prevention strategies.

Though the forecast for the 2018-2019 flu season is less severe than years past, businesses also need to prepare their office spaces.

Public health expert Meg Nash, MPH, recently discussed how a flu outbreak impact businesses and how they can be proactive in the prevention of the disease.

“Whether you’re talking about the flu or a pandemic, the effect is the same,” Nash said during an AlertFind webinar. “You’re going to have people missing work, you may have people potentially die and have loss of productivity. You need to figure out how to keep your business going and minimize any negative effects as much as possible.”

Here are three three flu prevention strategies that every business can easily incorporate into their planning:

Make Modifications To Physical Office Space

While many organizations can have their staff work remotely during a flu outbreak, some organizations aren’t a good fit for remote working. For instances, manufacturing companies need people working on the plant floor.

In these cases, look for ways to modify your physical space to reduce the likelihood of person-to-person infections, such as implementing social distancing so employees aren’t working as close to each other and spreading germs. Spreading people out six feet from each other can reduce their exposure when other people cough or sneeze.

Stock Up On Sanitizer, Cleaning Supplies And Masks

In addition to distancing your staff, encourage good hygiene by setting up hand-sanitizer stations throughout the office. While using hand sanitizer isn’t as effective as washing your hands with soap and water, these stations serve as a good reminder about the importance of hygiene. They’re helpful to have where employees eat and outside of restrooms, so people can sanitize after touching the door.

It’s always a good idea to regularly disinfect surfaces, and that’s especially true during flu season. Stock up on cleaning supplies you’ll need so you don’t run out during the prime months of flu season. Also, for sick employees who need to be at the office, have medical paper face masks that loop over their ears to restrict the spread of germs.

Share Educational Materials

Consistently remind employees that they can help prevent the spread of the flu. Post educational materials around the office about the symptoms to look for and what to do when sick. Put up signs in bathrooms to reinforce the importance of regular handwashing, coughing into your elbow instead of your hand and keeping your hands off your face.

Public health departments should be able to provide some of these materials. The CDC has a comprehensive collection of flu prevention information on its website.

Nash also noted that companies should collect data on the specific reasons that employees are home sick, which allows them to make the appropriate decisions for the company so that it lessens the impact in future years. Simply ask people to enter a short explanation like “Sick – flu” in your employee time tracking software. Then HR personnel can see how many people are out due to the flu.

These tips can help companies mitigate influenza risk, Nash said, adding: “One of the biggest challenges is convincing people to stay home when they’re sick. If you can do that then I think you’ve got a much better handle on flu prevention.”

For more insight from Meg Nash, MPH, about how organizations can enact flu prevention campaigns and keep employees healthy, watch AlertFind’s recent webinar, “Don’t Let The Flu Disrupt Your Organization.”