Communicable Disease: Employees are worried about contracting a communicable disease such as influenza from other employees. How can we reassure them?

Nov 9, 2012
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Dealing with illness in the workplace can be challenging at any time, but it is especially challenging during flu season. To help reassure employees, employers should provide information on the company’s efforts to keep employees healthy. Below are suggestions on what to include in the communication.

  • Inform employees that the company will take any steps necessary to ensure a safe and healthy work environment. If the situation changes, employees will be updated on those changes and how they may be affected.
  • Include information on the disease, including any known symptoms.
  • Make tissues and hand sanitizers available to employees. Employers can educate employees on proper ways of washing hands and what to do if flu-like symptoms develop. Communication about these precautions should occur frequently, and employers should hang posters in bathrooms and eating areas on the proper way to stop the spread of germs. Depending on the industry and employees’ proximity to others, an employer may also wish to provide respirators or masks to employees in the workplace to further hinder the spread of airborne germs.
  • Include information on how to protect against getting the disease—in the case of influenza, washing hands frequently, covering one’s mouth when coughing or sneezing, avoiding contact with sick individuals, practicing proper hygiene.
  • Advise employees of any changes to policies—for example, relaxing attendance policies to encourage sick employees to stay at home or reminding employees of applicable telecommuting policies.
  • Notify employees of any discontinued travel, if applicable.
  • Ask employees to remain calm and to come to HR with any concerns.

Communication regarding this situation will help maintain order in the workplace and dissuade any potential fears employees may have.

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