Approximately one-third of all unplanned absences at work are due to illness.

Here are 4 simple, low-cost tips for keeping employees healthy and reducing absenteeism during cold and flu season.Approximately one-third of all unplanned absences at work are due to illness.

1- Strategically distribute tissue boxes around the workplace.

Tissues should be readily available throughout the workplace so they are within easy reach whenever an employee coughs or sneezes. Employees should also be regularly reminded to immediately discard used tissues and to wash their hands afterwards.

2- Place hand sanitizer besides all major “touch” spots.

Always keep a bottle or dispenser of hand sanitizer wherever the risk of spreading germs is higher, such as beside shared or frequently-touched surfaces in building entrances and lobbies, elevators, rest rooms and waiting rooms, photocopiers, etc. The use of hand sanitizer can reduce absenteeism by 20%.

3- Disinfect frequently touched surfaces several times a day to prevent surface contamination.

Remember, there are 400 times more germs on a work table than on a toilet seat! What’s more, 80% of all common infections such as colds, influenza and diarrhea are spread throughout the work environment and to surfaces through direct contact. Make disinfecting wipes   available to employees so that they can protect themselves and others by cleaning their surroundings, including any equipment or furniture they share with others.

4- Stay home and get better. Stay home if you develop flu-like symptoms and see a doctor if needed.

Note that a person infected with the cold or flu virus is contagious 24 hours before and up to seven days after symptoms first appear. In fact, people remain contagious until the symptoms have completely disappeared.

These easy, low-cost measures will help to curb the spread of cold and flu viruses at work. The key is to keep your facilities clean and healthy. Good hand hygiene and proper cleaning should be considered not only essential to workplace well-being, but also as vital tools for reducing operating costs.