HRM Five: Zapping workplace germs
It’s the cold season in most parts of Asia, and with dipping temperatures comes viral and bacterial bugs, ready to ravage human immune systems.
Sick days are a fact of life, but the flu alone costs employers around the world billions of dollars in lost productivity. Sometimes falling ill from a viral infection is inevitable, but there are steps that everyone can take to maximise their own health and safety during the worst endemics.
Here are HRM Magazine’s tips for a germ-free workplace, with some help from GOJO, the makers of Purell hand sanitiser.
- Offer hygiene products and make them readily available. Ensure pantries or restrooms are stocked with soap, and consider placing alcohol-based hand sanitiser or wipes around workstations to allow workers to practice good hand hygiene at key moments throughout the day.
- Disinfect and clean frequently touched surfaces. Have your cleaning staff regularly disinfect and clean frequently touched surfaces and objects, like telephones, printers/copiers, common tables, doorknobs and shared computers. (And make sure you provide them with the resources to change up sponges and washcloths every so often!)
- Organise a flu shot clinic. There are group vaccination programmes you can take advantage of, which offer vaccines at a discount and even bring the doctors right into your office.
While the flu vaccine isn’t 100% fool-proof – it has been suggested that this year’s vaccine might be struggling against the most common virulent strain – some protection is still better than none, and one of the most important benefits of mass vaccination is in providing ‘herd immunity’ that also protects who cannot be vaccinated (e.g. those with immune system problems).
- Encourage them to stay home. It’s better for employers when sick employees stay home. If they’re ‘sniffly’, but still able to do work, provide them the tools and reassurance – by putting solid HR policies in place – that working from home is perfectly acceptable, and maybe even preferable to them coming into the office and infecting their colleagues.
- Educate your employees. Most of these tips won’t work if your employees and managers aren’t on the same page. Don’t just sound out a memo – get leadership buy-in, and explore what’s out there in the market to make the process easier for everyone. Many insurance companies offer educational talks, health screenings and other wellbeing initiatives at free, low or discounted rates.
Yamini Chinnuswamy offers five important points on everything you wanted to know about HR practices today, but were too afraid to ask. Check out previous editions of HRM Five here.