KEEP YOUR OFFICE HEALTHY TO PREVENT A FLU OUTBREAK February 13, 2013 Health & Fitness, Style (BPT) – A flu outbreak in your workforce can cause problems in several different areas of your business. The best flu prevention is encouraging and educating workers on how to be proactive at fending off the flu virus. By making sure your employees do the best they can to stay in good health and flu free, you can keep your business running smoothly and efficiently. Here are some tips on keeping the office healthy and productive from Staples, which has every product a business needs to succeed. Ways to avoid germs One of the best methods of flu prevention is to keep the passing of germs to a minimum. A recent survey from Staples found that 80 percent of workers come to work while sick and of those who do stay home, nearly two thirds come back while still contagious. While it is impossible to keep an entirely sterile environment, there are several ways to avoid catching the flu virus: * Stay away from people who are, or appear to be, sick. Encourage your employees to be alert for those that look like they may be infected with the flu, both at work and in their personal lives. * Steer clear of crowds and high-traffic areas. The more people there are, the higher the chances are that someone is carrying flu germs. Workers can decrease their odds of catching the flu by timing their errands and shopping at off-peak times whenever possible and doing their best to stay out of particularly germy areas, such as hospitals and schools. It is also important for those who do end up getting the flu to make sure they stay home to keep from infecting others. You can help your employees do this by encouraging them to stay alert for any signs of the flu and err on the side of caution to keep from potentially spreading germs to the rest of the workforce. Some experts recommend employees with the flu stay home for between five to seven days. Encouraging telecommuting when feasible may reduce employee downtime and prevent further spread of the illness. How proper hygiene can help keep you healthy While staying away from crowds and sick people is an important aspect of flu prevention, it is impossible for your employees to be out of contact with everyone. Encouraging proper hygiene, both at work and at home, can help kill any flu germs floating around. There are three easy practices that can go a long way in flu prevention: * Encourage employees to cover their mouths and noses when coughing or sneezing. This can help stop germs, flu or otherwise, from spreading. You can make this practice even easier for your workers by keeping several boxes of-facial tissues within easy reach of employee areas. * Make hand-washing a top priority. Washing your hands is one of the single best methods of flu prevention, killing most flu virus germs that you come into contact with. Making this a company-wide practice will help keep your workforce healthy. Posting signs reminding employees to wash their hands before leaving the restroom and providing-hand sanitizer-are great ways to stay proactive. Other ways to keep the flu at bay In addition to avoiding and stopping the spread of germs, it is also important for employees to keep themselves as healthy as possible, making it easier for their bodies to fend off the flu virus. Encourage your staff to stay active and get plenty of rest during flu season. Providing healthy snack options and bottled water can also help make sure that your workers are refueling during the work day. By encouraging your employees to adopt these healthy habits, you can avoid the troubles, such as unexpected understaffing, that can come from a flu outbreak among your workers. Flu prevention is key to keeping everyone healthy and productive year-round. Interested in learning more? Visit the Staples Solutions Center at www.staples.com/solutionscenter.