As the walls come down and offices become more collaborative with an open-office concept, the ability for germs to travel further becomes easier. Consider this, an uncovered cough or sneeze creates a spray of up to 40,000 virus-ridden droplets that can travel up to 200 mph and up to a distance of 26 feet.
To help reduce employee illnesses, proper ventilation maintenance procedures and employee hygiene are especially important. However, a healthy worker is more than only being free of illness. Consider these seven tips to help keep your workforce feeling good, inside and out.
1. Remind employees of the importance of proper hand hygiene
Keeping hands clean is one of the most important steps that can be taken to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others. There are about 400,000 bacteria on each hand and germs can easily get into the body through the eyes, nose and mouth or spread to someone else. When employees wash their hands thoroughly, multiple times a day, it helps reduce the number of germs being spread. Create a well-rounded communications plan to remind employees on the proper techniques for washing hands.
2. Install sanitation stations in entry and popular areas
Washing hands with soap and water is the best way to reduce the number of microbes on them in most situations. However, according to the CDC, an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol can also be effective at killing germs. Place sanitizer near shared equipment, lobby areas and conference rooms to encourage employees and visitors to help reduce the spread of germs on commonly touched surfaces.
3. Make physical activity important to the workplace culture
A worksite wellness program that includes a physical activity component can help employees relieve mild anxiety and depression, improve energy, and increase a general sense of well-being. According to the CDC, a worksite wellness program has the potential to increase employees’ productivity reduce absenteeism, and increase morale. Regardless of size, resources, setting, and type, any employer can provide opportunities to promote physical activity for their employees.
4. Promote personal area sanitation at least once a month
Allow employees to have a specific time to disinfect their area. Studies have found that a person’s desk is home to 400% more germs than a toilet seat. Those germs can continue to spread throughout the office. Provide a selection of disinfectants, wipes and microfiber cloths that will effectively kill bacteria and physically remove viruses. If employees are highly sensitive, consider UV light sanitizing technology. A UV sanitizing wand can kill up to 99.9 percent of germs, viruses, bacteria, allergens, dust mite and flea eggs from hard surfaces and fabrics.
5. Provide healthy snacks with little impact on the waist.
Healthy office snacks help your employees feel cared for and appreciated when they are made available. It’s not only an employment perk, but when the snacks are healthy, employees feel that their overall welfare is important to the employer. Online grocer Peapod found that healthy office snacks boost employee happiness with 83% of respondents agreeing that “healthy and fresh snack options (fruit, vegetables, yogurt, low-calorie snacks) provided in the workplace are a huge perk.”
6. Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) is important to the health and comfort of your employees
Understanding and controlling common pollutants and making sure your systems are up-to-date and well-maintained can help reduce your risk of indoor health concerns. According to the American Lung Association, maintaining healthy indoor air quality is an important step for every employee’s health. One of the best ways to improve IAQ is to minimize the number of airborne particles in your building. A strong preventive HVAC maintenance program that includes strict record-keeping will promote accountability and transparency.
7. Recognize, praise, celebrate and reward exceptional employees
Mental health is just as important has physical health in the workplace. Don’t forget to make your employees feel good about the great things they do and make special announcements for those that go above and beyond their call of duty. Feeling appreciated results in increased employee performance, more employee productivity and better employee engagement and satisfaction levels. Employees want to be acknowledged and told, “Thank You”.
While the open office structure promotes innovation, it also allows germs the ability to spread without the barriers of cubicles or walls. Therefore, considering the full health of your workforce becomes a more important focus. By being proactive to the physical and mental well-being of your employees, and promoting a holistic wellness plan centered around hygiene, you can improve engagement, collaboration and sustainability.