“Winter is coming” April 9th, 2014, by Ken Buckley

Game of Thrones fans will recognise this phrase as the opening episode of the series, when there are dire warnings of an approaching time of great coldness, darkness and anarchy.

While an Australian workplace might be a long way from mythical Westeros, you can see where I’m going with this. Workplaces in winter are often a bleak  place, beset with terrible absenteeism and lost productivity, when workstations are left bare and work piles up in mountains around the remaining few.

The highest levels of absenteeism and presenteeism are in winter, and it can have a profound effect on morale, productivity and overall business performance.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.

There are actions you can take right now to immunise your business against winter.

The trick is to prepare early. Give your employees the time, tools and information they need to boost their immune systems, and protect themselves against colds and flus.

1. Vaccinate

The first step is to vaccinate. Most organisations have already organised their workplace flu vaccinations, but if you haven’t there are still some later places available (email flu@healthworks.com.au or call us on 1300 90 10 90). The vaccination takes a good two weeks to kick in, so ideally you should roll them out in April or May at the latest.

2. Educate

The next step is to inform and educate. Give your employees expert advice and guidance on how the cold and flu viruses work, how they can avoid them, and how they can boost their immune system in the lead up to winter. The workplace is rife with germs in winter. The flu virus can last up to two days on a hard surface? Think door handles, shared keyboards, even fridge doors and photocopier buttons. Our Winter Wise booklet is a good example – it gives expert tips on how to prevent and treat colds and flus.

3. Support

Finally, show your employees you care and you support them. Morale and engagement are often at an all time low in winter, as the employees who are not home sick are left shouldering the work of their absent colleagues.

One of the most successful ways our clients provide this support and information is through a Winter Wellness Pack. We pull together a selection of comforting yet healthy products such as porridge sachets, along with an educational Winter health booklet, and our clients hand them out to their employees as a clear and strong message that they care about their health.

(Our new Winter Wellness Packs are now available, but only to the end of April. Find out more!)

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