Cold and Flu: Infection in the workplace stops here
Nurture Marketing Specialist at Kineo APAC
As the saying goes, we believe that prevention is almost as good as the cure itself.
Kineo has partnered with University of South Australia to create a Cold and Flu Prevention course. This new course is designed to reduce the number of sick days by encouraging workers to get the flu shot and, if they are sick, to apply hygiene techniques that reduce the spread of infection. This course is an ideal promotional piece for an organisations’ annual flu shot campaigns.
A whopping 28.2 million working days are lost due to workplace illness, as stated in 2018/19 UK Labour Force Survey. As high infection season generally falls across December and February, this is when there are the highest levels of workplace absenteeism. It’s the time of year when the air is coldest and driest, conditions for the influenza virus to transmit quickly.
When it’s cold, we tend to wrap up, stay inside with the heating turned up and the windows shut. With less sunlight and resulting vitamin D levels, this decreases our immunity to fight off viruses, making us more susceptible to contracting the flu virus.
In the workplace, employees shouldn’t show up for work when they are sick. When employees are ill they aren’t productive in that fug of headiness and breakout sweats and their work colleagues won’t thank them either! When the is an infectious employee in the workplace they could spread flu cases by as much as 40%, according to a 2013 study by the University of Pittsburgh.
Presenteeism is a term coined for those that will continue to show up for work even though they are clearly not well. Sickness presenteeism at work; prevalence, costs and management as detailed in The British Medical Bulletin studies the increasing health concern and factors that influence this behaviour.
Presenteeism has tripled over the last decade, according to the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development (CIPD). This is due to rising work stresses. In the 2018 health and wellbeing study that surveyed 1,000 participants, 86% claimed to have witnessed presenteeism in their workplace across the previous year, up from 26% in 2010.
Influenza/common cold misconceptions
Often referred to as the same thing, they are not! People often talk about colds and flu yet the distinction needs to be made, they are different illnesses caused by different viruses.
The common cold initially has similar symptoms to that of influenza, with a cough, sore throat, and a stuffy nose. It tends to last three days. Flu symptoms also include fever, cold sweats, aches all over the body, headache, exhaustion, and possibly gastro-intestinal symptoms, depending on the severity of the dose of flu contracted. Flu can last anywhere between three and seven days. Doctors advise patients to remain at home in those first couple of days, when the risk of contagion is highest.
Adults are able to spread the virus one day prior to the appearance of symptoms and up to seven days after symptoms begin. Influenza is typically spread through coughs and sneezes of an infected person Infection may also be spread by contact with hands and contaminated tissues.
What does prevention look like?
An economic analysis for flu vaccination found that up to £28,902,536 in sick day costs could have been saved by the Influenza vaccine when the total number of averted cases was applied to the 2017 ONS average employment rate and average daily wage.
The average number of days lost to sickness absence fell to 5.6 for each employee in 2017 from 6.6 the year before, according to analysis by XpertHR. However, the cost of sickness absence per worker increased; employers lost £570 per individual in 2017, compared with £455 in 2016.
Widespread use of the flu vaccination could save up to £28.9 million in averted sick day costs, in addition to increased productivity at work.
If you fall prey to the flu, note that vaccinations also protect those that are vulnerable around us. Use hand sanitiser, cough or sneeze into a tissue or failing that being at hand, your elbow (not your hand and here’s the science).
Knowledge is power and protection. Get yourself and your workers armed and covered with Cold and Flu Prevention.