As the dog days of winter continue to wear on, people all over the country are fighting the flu, the common cold and other related infections. While there is only so much you can do to prevent yourself from getting sick, every little bit helps.

If you are a company owner or HR professional, you dread the winter months. During this time, the chance of multiple employees calling off due to sickness is mSick Dayuch greater. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to reduce employee sick days:

1. Talk about the benefits of prevention. You cannot force every employee to get a flu shot or take care of him or herself, but this shouldn’t stop you from talking about it. Why not send out a memo regarding the benefits of a flu shot? Why not setup a health fair to help educate employees?

2. Let your employees know that it is okay to stay home if they are sick. Sure, this means you are going to be “down an employee” for a particular period of time, but at least this person won’t be in the office spreading germs to others.

3. Make it easier for everybody in the office to fight germs. From hand sanitizer stations to multiple garbage cans to a daily cleaning of the office, there are things you can do to keep germs on the outside.

4. Tell employees to take breaks from time to time. A worn down worker is one that is more prone to illness. Breaks are important throughout the day, especially those that offer the opportunity to move around. Also, encourage workers to spend some time outside during their break (even if the weather is cold).

5. Monitor flu and cold outbreaks in your area and share this information with others. You can do this by watching the news, searching online, and speaking with healthcare professionals. If other companies in your area have been hit with the flu bug, for example, it is time to take preventative measures to the next level.

Once again, it is important to note that there is no way of completely eliminating employee sick days. However, by following the five tips above you can help keep everybody happy and healthy during the “sick season.”

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