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Tips For A Healthy Workplace During Cold And Flu Season

It’s officially Autumn! Although it feels unseasonably warm now, cooler weather is on its way and with that comes cold and flu season!

How can the flu impact your workforce? What can you do to help prepare your employees and encourage wellbeing?

THE IMPACT OF THE FLU

Not only is the flu a threat to our health, but also to the wellbeing and productivity of our organisations.

Your company culture should make employees feel comfortable staying home when sick. Although some may consider coming to work regardless of how you feel a show of dedication, it can actually be very counterproductive! When your employees feel under the weather they are often less productive, they risk spreading illness to colleagues, and they can be hindering their own recovery by not taking time to get well.

ENCOURAGING WELLBEING DURING FLU SEASON

The flu vaccine is considered the most effective way to protect from the flu. NSW Health recommends everyone ages 6 months and older who want to reduce the likelihood of becoming ill with flu get a flu vaccine annually. With flu season generally beginning in April and peaking between June and August, NSW Health encourages vaccination during autumn months.

As part of your workplace wellbeing efforts you can consider offering an on-site flu shot clinic to make it quick and easy for your employees to get the vaccine.

What else can you do to prepare your workforce?

  • Educate employees about flu symptoms, how the virus is spread, and what they can do to prevent getting sick. Also, help make sure they understand the difference between colds and the flu.
  • Encourage increased hygiene. Though it seems like common sense to cover your coughs and sneezes and to wash your hands often, they are still important reminders. The flu can be spread through these methods even before you start feeling symptoms. Keep disinfecting wipes handy to clean frequently touched surfaces like doorknobs, keyboards, and phones. Provide tissues, hand sanitisers, and other supplies to promote healthy hygiene.
  • Communicate with employees to review company policies regarding sick leave and working from home. You don’t want sick employees coming into the workplace and risking the health of coworkers, so make sure they know their options. If your organization wants to encourage working from home when not feeling well, make sure to arm employees with the necessary technology for working remotely.

Help foster employee well-being by encouraging healthy behaviours this flu season!


Family Friendly Doesn’t Mean Fiasco


Creating a family-friendly work environment used to have managers in a panic about sky-rocketing costs and worried about service levels, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Family-friendly can be a win-win situation in SMEs.

With the increasing rate of parents (both men and women) trying to balance family with work responsibilities and single parent families, companies have to embrace family-friendly practices to compete for the best employees.
How do you implement family-friendly practices without the pain?

While there are a number of legally required family-friendly work practices that every employer must provide (such as maternity leave), there is also an array of simple, cost neutral ideas that can be implemented effortlessly and with no negative impact on the business or your clients. It is these ideas that can really make the difference when employees are weighing whether or not they will look for another role or join your business in the first place.

Embracing family friendly can be really easy. Why not start by:

  • Allowing employees to start work earlier and leave earlier; or start work later and leave work later
  • Allowing employees to take a reduced lunch break so they can leave early every day or accumulate those short lunches to leave early one day a week (but remember no break at all, may be bad for concentration and even in the worst situation illegal.)
  • Considering a four-day week or a nine-day fortnight option where employees work the same hours but in a reduced number of days
  • Job sharing, where two or more employees share the same role. It is a great way to balance work and home and it also provides businesses with some built in holiday or resignation coverage
  • Implementing telecommuting opportunities in appropriate roles
  • Allowing parents to “bank” extra hours worked (without penalty rates paid) so they can utilise the account to attend to family needs.

Why not stop:

  • Automatically saying no to requests without first discussing how they could work in your business and teams
  • Resisting change out of fear that it may be too hard to implement or you can’t go back. Document any agreement you make with an employee as a “trial” for a specific period of time and give it an opportunity to work. If at the end of the trial, it hasn’t worked you can explain why the business can’t offer that flexibility going forward. Your employee is more likely to appreciate the attempt than if you just say “no”.

You can also put financial concerns to rest with the truth about family-friendly working environments. You don’t have to change the whole way you work to be family friendly, but it will change your business through its advantages.

Benefits of being family friendly environment include:

  • Increased employee engagement, and its demonstrated positive impact on your bottom line
  • Longer retention of current employees which increases customer satisfaction
  • More potential employees seeking to join your business, which decreases service interruptions
  • Reduced levels of employee absenteeism allowing improved scheduling and work completion

For more information on these or other family-friendly ideas, contact info@impacthr.com.au or call 02 9907 6837 for an obligation free chat. Impact HR are based on Sydney’s Northern Beaches.