How to Stop the Spread of Germs in the Workplace


Did you know that getting the flu vaccination each year is the best way to prevent the spread of germs and sickness in the workplace? That’s according to the Center for Disease Control.

Illness costs businesses an average of $576 billion dollars each year, says The Integrated Benefits Institute. That’s a significant chunk of change for your company and the economy. The best way to recoup that money and uphold high productivity is to stop the spread of germs in the workplace.

Here are a few tips to help you keep illness out and healthy employees at their desks.

1. Encourage Employees to Stay Home When Sick

You hire motivated employees. These people want to get their work done on time and avoid missing out on time at the office. They’re so inspired to do well for your business that they often make the dangerous mistake of coming into the office when they’re sick.

Encourage your team to stay at home. If possible, let your employees work from home when they feel ill. That will avoid the temptation to push the limits and not use a sick day, spreading illness throughout your office.

2. Cover Up

Coughing and sneezing is bound to happen before an illness. Even if your employees head your advice to stay home when sick, they can still spread the illness in your office before they know they’re infected.

Encourage your team to cover up with a tissue when sneezing or coughing. Give helpful tips in meetings and hang signs in your office that will serve as a friendly reminder of how important it is to minimize the spread of germs.

3. Teach Smart Hand Washing Procedures

As much as we’d like to believe that effective hand washing is a habit for most people, it’s not.

Hand washing is like a do-it-yourself vaccine. It is one of the best ways to prevent the spread of germs.

Here’s what proper hand washing looks like:

1. Wet your hands with clean water and soap.

2. Lather the soap in your hands.

3. Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds.

4. Rinse your hands of the soap.

5. Dry your hands using a paper towel or air dryer.

In the past, people believed that they had to use uncomfortably hot water to truly rid their hands of germs. However, temperature is not as important of a factor as it was in the past, according to recent studies. No matter whether you wash in hot or cold water, proper technique will remove illness-causing microbes.

Why is Hand Washing a DIY Vaccine?

It’s not a secret that washing with soap removes germs from hands.  Germs removed through washing helps prevent diarrhea and respiratory infections. It may even help prevent skin and eye infections.

You touch your eyes, nose, and mouth frequently throughout the day  most of the time without realizing it. Germs get in your body through your eyes, nose, and mouth, making you sick.

Hand washing minimizes how many germs are transmitted to your face throughout the day.

Where you eat matters too. Germs from unwashed hands can get into foods and drinks while people prepare or consume foods. Sometimes, germs can multiply and make other people sick.

Using proper hand washing when preparing and eating your food is critical to your health.

Where are the Germs?

Germs are everywhere. You cannot rely on others to have the same proper hand washing habits as you. Touching handrails, table tops, or door knobs can transfer germs from one person to another.

Education about hand-washing helps people and their communities and work places stay healthy by preventing the spread of germs.

A recent study showed the following benefits of teaching proper hand washing in your workplace:

  • Reduces the number of people who get sick with diarrhea by 31%.
  • Reduces diarrheal illness in people with weakened immune systems by 58%.
  • Reduces respiratory illnesses, like colds, in the general population by 21%.

Consider this: One gram of human feces (which is about the weight of a paper clip) contains as much as one trillion germs (that’s 1,000,000,000,000 germs).

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The Bottom Line

Hand washing (or lack of hand washing) in certain areas – even if you’re not the culprit – can eliminate or stop the spread of a significant amount of germs around the work place. Teach your employees proper hygiene and help them stay happy, healthy, and productive for your business.

Want to go the extra mile to stop a pandemic in your office? Download our free report, Prepare & Prevent a Pandemic Guide to get actionable tips to minimize your employees risk of illness.

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