How you can help keep your staff healthy this winter

It might seem a bit early to be planning your employees' wellbeing for this winter. But planning early could make a huge difference to your staff sickness absence. A minor illness, such as flu, is the most common cause for short-term sickness among employees in the UK. And can even cause long-term absence of four weeks or more1. It can also be highly infectious – particularly in an office environment.

Cold or flu: How can you tell the difference?

Colds and flu share some of the same symptoms, such as a cough and sore throat, but flu can be much more serious than a cold. Symptoms include2:


  • Runny nose
  • Blocked nose
  • Sore throat
  • Sneezing
  • Cough
  • Mild fever
  • Earache
  • Tiredness
  • Headache


  • Sudden fever of 38-40°C
  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Sweating
  • Feeling exhausted and needing to lie down
  • A dry, chesty cough

Symptoms develop over one or two days and gradually get better after a few days. Some colds can last up to two weeks.

Flu usually comes on much more quickly than a cold with symptoms appearing one to three days after infection. Most people recover within a week.

So what can you do to help prevent seasonal illnesses affecting your workforce?

Encourage staff to ‘catch it, bin it, kill it’ – Protect against colds and flu by:

  • Coughing or sneezing into a tissue
  • Throwing a used tissue away as soon as possible
  • Washing your hands as soon as possible

Encourage any staff in an ‘at risk’ group to receive their free flu jab EVERY year – Your staff will be eligible to receive a free flu jab if they:

  • Are pregnant
  • Have certain medical condition (e.g. asthma, diabetes, chronic heart disease)
  • Receive a carer’s allowance, or are the main carer for an elderly or disabled person whose welfare may be at risk if they were to fall ill
  • Are 65 years of age or over

Offer a flu vaccine to your staff – Offering a flu vaccine not only makes commercial sense; it can also be a low-cost (as little as £6.00 per person) and valued employee benefit.

1 CIPD Absence Management Survey 2016
2 www.nhs.uk


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