The Single Biggest Killer of Employee Productivity in Winter… And How to Beat It

Winter can be a rough time for employee morale, what with the frigid temperatures, icy roads, and those gloomy winter skies. It’s also a rough time for our employee health; since we are all cooped up indoors together, we spread germs faster during the winter months. That means that your team is much more likely to get the flu or a cold, and pass it around.

Fortunately, you’re not helpless in the fight against winter illness. There are many ways you can help your employees stay healthy, happy, and productive. Here are six of the best options:

1. Spread the Hand Sanitizer, Not the Germs
Hand sanitizer is an absolute must when it comes to preventing the spread of germs. Get generous with those big pump bottles. Place them at common gathering areas (e.g., the water cooler and break room) as well as “pass-through” areas such as the front desk or reception area and near doorways and elevators. Also consider giving your employees a little winter gift: their very own, individual hand sanitizer bottle to keep on their desks.

2. Update Your Sick Policy and Flex Work Options
Remind your employees that no one needs to play the “sick hero” role, struggling to put in a full day while hacking, sneezing, and spreading illness around the office. If possible, consider providing flexible work options for employees who feel a little under the weather. That way they can still choose to put in hours from home, if desired, but not risk spreading germs to others, or fatiguing themselves.

3. Supplement Flu Shots and a Gym Membership
Regular exercise has been shown to reduce colds and boost the immune system. Exercise also makes us feel happier; get your employees to the gym so they can ward off those winter blues. If budgets permit, your winter gift to employees could be a company-wide gym membership. Alternatively, you could seek out group discounts with certain gyms, or offer to supplement memberships up to a certain dollar amount. As for flu shots, bringing in a nurse to distribute them at the office is an appreciated benefit for employees, and makes it far more likely that most of them will get the shot this year.

4. Implement a Disinfectant Routine
Add a simple end-of-day routine to help reduce the spread of germs. All it takes is a few minutes with a spray bottle of disinfectant. Walk around your workplace and spray doorknobs, light switches, and any other “high-touch” locations. Keep containers of disinfectant wipes in the high traffic areas so employees can wipe down their phones and desks at the end of the day.

5. Stock Up on Fruit and Water
Staying hydrated and getting plenty of Vitamin C both help the body to function at its best and fight off sickness. Go ahead and replace those candy bowls with citrus fruits. Keep a water filtration pitcher in the break room refrigerator. If you’re feeling ambitious, you can even put orange slices into filtered water pitchers and let employees help themselves. Above all, make sure the water cooler stays filled and serviced…you know, the one with that big bottle of hand sanitizer right beside it.

6. Reward Good Health
The best weapon against sickness is employees who are educated about how to prevent it, and who actively maintain good habits to stay healthy. Consider providing incentives for education (via literature, seminars, workshops, videos, or online courses) and rewards for good habits such as gym visits, getting flu shots, and regular check-ups. Incentives could be anything from a gift card to a company-wide free lunch to an extra vacation day.

Prevention really is the best medicine. Which one of these strategies would you implement right away to help your employees stay healthy?