This time of year can be a real headache for anybody responsible for maintaining staffing levels and production output. It can seem like every other week there is a new bout of flu or a similarly nasty winter virus to contend with amongst employees. Preventing office illnesses makes business sense.


Being caught between the needs of the business and the welfare of your employees can have HR Managers tying themselves in knots when each week sees somebody else ringing in sick. All this whilst the Operations Director is breathing down your neck asking why staffing levels are not up to the mark.


Knowing the impact sickness can have on your business and how to go about preventing office illness can make a huge difference to the company’s productivity and bottom line.

Why Prevent Office Illness


There are two sides to this coin. One is the cost to business, the other the damage to your culture and staff morale.

woman blowing her nose for blog by Wellspace on preventing office illnessIt is well documented that office illnesses cost the UK economy £29billion every year in direct and indirect costs.

Direct costs include agency staff, sick pay, and overtime. Indirect costs quietly mount up and are difficult to quantify. Stress, inferior product or service quality due to using new staff or current staff being overburdened, and the time it takes to train or source replacements can all have a financial cost to the business.


The impact staff sickness has on the morale of the company can depend a lot on how you deal with it. Not allowing staff time off when they are sick can cause low morale amongst the team.


Being too lax about people being off a lot can also lead to unhappy staff, as they feel it is unfair on those who are in every day.


It is a tightrope to walk to ensure your staff force feel they are being treated fairly and really, the happy middle ground will depend on the type of business you run and the staff you employ.


However, you decide to tackle it, make sure your absence policy is written down, clearly communicated, and reviewed regularly.


Of course, prevention is better that cure. You might think it isn’t up to you to make sure your staff wash their hands and eat the occasional apple in order to stay healthy. But as demonstrated, the impact on your business of not preventing office illness is too great to ignore.


Know the Symptoms


Anyone who has ever had genuine flu knows the difference between a bad cold and flu.


According to the Government’s own executive agency for the Department of Health, Public Health England, Influenza or more commonly known as ‘flu’ is a ‘viral infection affecting the lungs and airways’. They go on to state that the symptoms can actually come on quickly and include:


  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Aching muscles and joints


Moreover, it is worth knowing that flu differs from the common cold, even though the symptoms can be similar, and they are both viral infections, flu is much more likely to leave you feeling fatigued and can lead to more serious health issues and in the majority of cases, having a cold is milder infection than flu.


Even though there are flu vaccinations available on the NHS, the eligibility is very much dependant on age, existing health issues and crucially, areas of work that are most vulnerable, for example health and social care workers. It is worth encouraging your staff to check their eligibility and go to have a flu shot.


If you have had flu before, you know how debilitating it can be and how long it takes an employee to get over.


Preventing Office Illness Means Preventing Germs Spreading

woman with scarf on her face representing blog by Wellspace on preventing office illnessHaving a healthy workforce is every HR manager’s dream, especially at this time of year. There are definitely things you can do to keep the risk of infections down, not least of all by having a culture where people do not feel their job is under threat by taking time off work when they are ill.


Naturally nobody wants to encourage absenteeism, but neither should staff feel that unless they are being read the last rites, they have to be at their desk come what may.


Interestingly, those who remain ‘present’ through an illness and those who are often absent, can both have an equally detrimental effect on the business if the culture is not as it should be, although the damaging impact is through differing reasons.


Our recent article on Absenteeism Vs Presenteeism demonstrates the need to get the workplace culture towards taking time off through sickness and ill health precisely balanced to have the best outcome. Ultimately, all that happens if people don’t feel they can take time off due to ill health is they unwittingly spread their contagious germs to all their colleagues, leading to a bigger problem in the long run.


So, as well as keeping the culture healthy, it is important to take some positive, practical steps towards maintaining a healthy workforce.


Make sure your absence policy is fair, and don’t penalise or berate people for being off sick.


For our top tips for fighting winter bugs at work, have a look at this infographic.


Inspire your Employees with the Wellspace App


There’s a lot of steps your employees can do themselves to remain healthy and well. Eating a nutritious diet full of vitamins and goodness is always a good idea, and who doesn’t like the idea of a warming winter stew packed with vegetables and pulses to keep those nasty bugs at bay?


Similarly, a regular exercise regime is good for overall health, strengthens the immune system and fights infections, keeping overall health and wellbeing on a positive track.


The point is, keeping your employees well should be part of your own commitment to the organisation, but luckily, you don’t have to tackle this on your own.

cup and tissues to represent blog by wellspace on preventing office illnessHere at Wellspace we recognise the fundamental benefits of having a healthy workforce and we want to revolutionise the way employers invest in the health and wellbeing of their staff.


We have developed a Wellbeing App that will support you and reinvigorate your approach to your employees health, leading to a more positive workplace culture, reduced absenteeism and improved productivity.


This application is more than just a step counter, (although counting your steps at work is a good way to quickly increase your exercise levels), it is a way to transform the lives of you and your colleagues so that you fell happier, healthier and more motivated every single day.


In addition, our Corporate Wellbeing Pilot Scheme is free, if you join before the end of the year, so gives you enough time to get your fit and healthy before the worst of the winter bugs are upon us!


Contact us


So if you are feeling motivated enough to start preventing office illness and you want to find out more about how we can help you do it, then why not contact us here for more information, or call us on 0808 178 0748 where one of our expert team will be delighted to chat to you.


We look forward to discussing our products with you and how we can help you fight the winter bugs at work.