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Published on February 10, 2020

Sick at the office

Stop the Spread of Flu at Work and Home

With flu season in full force in North Carolina, many workplaces may be feeling the stress of employees missing work due to the flu. The good news is there are ways you can lower the risk of the flu spreading at both work and home. Share these tips with employees and your family to stop the spread of the flu virus.

Encourage sick employees or family members to stay home. Health experts at the Centers for Disease Control say persons with the flu are the most contagious during the first three days of their illness. They advise anyone to not return to work or school until at least 24 hours after any fever is gone without the use of fever-reducing medication, as well as delaying return to at least four to five days after the onset of symptoms.

One key to getting sick employees to stay at home is to make sure your sick leave policies don’t penalize employees for missing work when they have symptoms of an illness. It’s better for a few employees to stay home than for each of them to share the flu with several coworkers and create a larger number of sick employees.

It’s not too late to get a flu shot. While doctors recommend getting a flu shot in the fall to be ready for the earliest possible start of the season, flu vaccines can still provide protection now. Consider sharing information with employees about where they can get flu shots or sponsor a flu shot clinic at your workplace.

Sanitize shared work surfaces. A study at the University of Arizona revealed that flu germs can spread in as little as four hours through a single employee infected with the virus touching surfaces in the workplace. Commonly shared surfaces include copy machine buttons, doorknobs, coffee machines, and desktops.

Since people can carry the flu virus before they exhibit symptoms, it’s a good idea to have employees frequently sanitize both shared surfaces and their individual keyboards, phones, etc. on a frequent basis during flu season. Consider providing containers of sanitizing wipes in break rooms and other common locations. At home, frequently sanitize kitchen and bath countertops, refrigerator handles, doorknobs, remote controls, and any other shared surfaces.

Reduce cough and sneeze droplets with tissues. Ask employees and family members to use a tissue over their nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing. They should also dispose of the tissue in a trash can and wash their hands afterward. If tissues are not available, covering a cough or sneeze with the upper sleeve can also stop droplets from spreading.

Be aware of those who may be at high risk for serious flu complications. Anyone with diabetes, asthma, heart disease or other chronic conditions, as well as pregnant women, are at a higher risk for serious health complications from the flu virus. If an employee or family member with these conditions comes down with the flu, make sure they see a medical provider right away.

Team Up with Cone Health Employee Health & Wellness to Fight the Flu

Many companies across the Triad work with Cone Health Employee Health & Wellness to fight the flu with workplace flu vaccines or vaccines given at three different Employee Health & Wellness Clinics staffed with occupational health doctors and nurses. The Cone Health Employee Health & Wellness team also offers workplace education about a variety of topics, such as stopping the spread of flu.

To learn more about the full range of employee and occupational health services offered through Cone Health Employee Health & Wellness, contact Jacqueline Heyward at or 336.832.7315. The Cone Health team tailors services to individual company needs and serves employers of all sizes.

Contact Us

For more information on our Employee Health & Wellness services for your business, please call our business liaison at 336-832-7315.