Don't let cold and flu season sneak up on you - prepare now!

Before you know it, the balmy days of summer will give way to crisper fall temperatures. And with the change in season comes the arrival of colds and flu. Sniffling, sneezing cold season can start up as early as September, with the aches and fever of flu not far behind it in October.

By taking the proper precautions, you can keep a cold or flu outbreak from sidelining your employees. It’s not too early to:

Encourage employees to get a flu shot. Find a local flu clinic or consider hosting an on-site flu clinic. Vaccination is the best way to prevent the flu, especially for those at higher risk, such as individuals age 65 and older, pregnant women and those with chronic illnesses.

• Educate employees about the flu and what they can do to minimize its spread. Distribute information (via handouts, emails and/or posters) on flu symptoms and how to avoid contracting or sharing germs.

• Review your sick leave policy and ensure employees understand it. Consider adopting flexible hours or allowing telecommuting for employees who need to care for themselves or a sick family member.

• Reinforce good flu-prevention hygiene with employees, such as frequent hand washing, keeping a clean work area and using tissues when sneezing or coughing. Other ways employees can minimize exposure is by limiting face-to-face time, foregoing business travel and avoiding basic greetings like shaking hands.

Keep employees informed with “flu smart” workplace posters and support frequent hand washing with hand sanitizer dispensers mounted throughout the building.

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