Poor health can certainly keep your employees stuck at home, but what about child health? If members of your workforce have younger kids, they may have to stay home with them when they get sick. This might happen frequently enough to affect productivity, especially because children in day care tend to get sick more frequently.
What does this mean for you? As you educate your employees on their health, be sure to include child health in the mix. Here’s what parents should know about sick kids:
- Boost immunity. Many health strategies benefit kids’ immune systems and help prevent illness. Among the most important are a diet high in fruits and vegetables and good sleeping habits.
- Clean hands. Hand hygiene is essential to preventing the spread of germs, and it’s important to teach kids to be vigilant about washing their hands at home, school and out in public. Kids should be washing properly and at key times: after using the bathroom and playing outside, and before and after eating.
- Take advantage of vaccines. Children should be up to date on vaccinations and immunizations. Sponsoring flu shots at your workplace is a great way to help control the spread of illness among parents, children and the office. As for the kids themselves, most children over the age of six months can safely receive a flu shot, and you can allow your employees to bring their family in for an after-work flu shot clinic to help ensure participation.
- Control cross-contamination. Germs are easily transmitted by casual contact, so try to encourage your employees to take extra precautions in the workplace. Disinfect surfaces such as desktops, conference tables, chair arms and door handles. Even if someone is not sick themselves, they can still transmit germs to others who may be more susceptible.
- Use sick policies wisely. Day care facilities and schools want sick children to be kept at home. Of course, for many parents who don’t have the ability to make alternative arrangements, this means unexpected time off from work. Although it may hamper productivity, taking sick days is the best way to stop the rampant spread of germs. Encourage your employees to use the sick days they need (for themselves and their kids), and only talk about alternatives if the sick time becomes extended.
- Allow for schedule flexibility. If your business model allows, consider allowing workers with sick children to work from home for a period of time to decrease the use of sick leave. In some cases, parents can coordinate schedules to minimize the impact on day-to-day work.
- Build awareness of the Family and Medical Leave Act. The Family and Medical Leave Act gives an employee the right to take 12 workweeks of job-protected leave over a 12-month period. If extended medical situations occur, this leave allows your workers to be able to care for themselves or family members without losing their jobs.
For many employees, work-life balance involves managing childhood illness and the occasional need to take off a day or two to care for sick children. Helping to control germs in the workplace and encouraging proactive health care and good hygiene habits are all fairly easy measures to incorporate into your office, and increasing employee attendance will make them well worth the time and effort.
Mary Parsons is retired from a 30-year career in the insurance industry. She worked in the claims department of a major insurance carrier as a claims adjuster, manager and a member of a catastrophe team. Since her retirement, she has developed a career as a freelance writer. As an insurance professional, she has been a contributor to several insurance websites.