Keeping Germs at Bay

Steps for employers

  • Foster a healthy environment. Speak with managers to ensure they’re fostering an environment that makes ill employees comfortable to ask to leave the workplace or, better yet, not report to work in the first place.
  • Set a good example. Managers should be urged not to show up at the workplace with the flu as employees may otherwise simply view the message to stay home as lip service.
  • Set guidelines and make them visible to employees. Help them understand under what conditions they should stay home, and when it’s safe to return to work.
  • Revisit your EAP and healthcare support services. Determine if there is a hotline or website by which you can communicate to your employees where they can access FAQs, get guidance on taking care of their health during flu season and get more information about related healthcare issues.
  • Review absence control policies to ensure they are not counterproductive. Programs such as disciplinary action need to be assessed to ensure they are not making ill employees feel required to report to work.
  • Post helpful tips on how to avoid spreading germs, with guidance offered on the CDC website ( Use posters, or offer the information on your corporate intranet.
  • Work with your employees and facilities group to keep common areas clean. Make sure that common areas of the facilities are cleaned regularly; this may even include cleaning conference rooms between meetings.
  • Recognize helpful employees. Consider bonuses, rewards or some other type of recognition for employees who step in to help do extra work for ill colleagues.

Steps for employees

  • Avoid close contact. Avoid close contact with people who are sick. When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick too.
  • Stay home when you are sick. When you are sick or have flu symptoms, stay home, get plenty of rest and check with a healthcare provider as needed.
  • Cover your mouth and nose. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. It may prevent those around you from getting sick.
  • Clean your hands. Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs. When soap and water are not available, alcohol-based disposable hand wipes or gel sanitizers may be used
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth.
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