It’s November and, while many of us look forward to holidays with family and friends, we may also worry about what all that time indoors means for our health. Cold and flu season typically begins in October, intensifies in December, and persists until March. This period is marked by children returning to school and inevitable sick days away from work.
However, you don’t have to let this busy time of year negatively impact your health and productivity. With the right cold and flu prevention measures, you can stay healthy and active while performing at your personal and professional best.
Let’s delve into how cold and flu season impacts productivity and how we can effectively manage our health throughout it.
What a Cold or the Flu Does to Your Productivity
The implications of cold and flu season on your productivity and work performance might not seem significant. You may believe that you can simply endure the illness and continue working without any major disruptions. However, despite your presence at the office or your commitment to remote work during sickness, it’s likely that your productivity is significantly declining.
According to a study from the Journal of Occupational Therapy and Environmental Medicine, their organization loses 70 million workdays to colds and similar illnesses each year. This results in an economic cost of lost productivity totaling nearly $25 billion. That number further breaks down to $16.6 billion in lost on-the-job productivity, $8 billion in absenteeism, and $230 million in caregiver absenteeism.
In a recent study, researchers reported that, in January 2022, nearly 8 million workers called in sick due to an illness, injury, or medical appointment. Another 4.2 million cut their hours from full-time to part-time due to the same.
If you’re the type never to call in sick, even milder illnesses can impact how you work. Studies have shown, for example, that a cold or cough can decrease productivity by more than 25%.
The takeaway? Regardless of your belief that a cold or flu won’t affect your work, the data suggests otherwise. Even without taking a sick day, you will still be significantly less productive at work.
So how can you safeguard your health and maintain your performance during this cold and flu season? Here are some strategies you can use to bolster your immune system and improve wellness in the workplace.
Give Your Immune System a Boost
Start by paying attention to how your daily habits impact your immunity. Ask yourself what you could be doing differently to give your immune system the best chance of successfully fighting off an oncoming cold or the flu.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, eating well is a big part of boosting your immune system. Start by adopting a diet filled with fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains, while limiting saturated fats, cholesterol, salt, and added sugar.
Engaging in regular physical activity can also enhance your immunity in multiple ways. Exercise helps you manage your stress during the cold and flu season, which is crucial for your health since stress can weaken your immune system’s ability to combat colds. Exercise also promotes better sleep which boosts your immunity.
In line with this, ensuring you get adequate sleep is vital, as sleep deprivation can adversely affect both your immune system and overall productivity.
Likewise, it’s smart to take a proactive approach to your health and eliminate bad habits such as excessive alcohol consumption, unhealthy eating, and smoking.
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Practice Good Workplace Hygiene
However, maintaining healthy habits shouldn’t be confined to your personal life. There are specific measures you can take to uphold good hygiene in the workplace as well. If you’re working in an office with others and using communal spaces, ensure you wash your hands frequently and use hand sanitizer. Additionally, clean and disinfect shared workspaces as appropriate.
Undoubtedly, the most effective method to protect everyone from illness is to encourage team members to take sick days when they’re unwell. Employees who attend work while sick can not only prolong their illness but also potentially get other team members sick.
Along these lines, encourage teams to focus on maintaining work-life harmony. Remember — stress negatively impacts the immune system, so limiting stress by harmoniously integrating work and personal life can ensure you and your team remain productive the entire season.
The Bottom Line
Even if you believe a mere cold can’t disrupt your Q4, it’s crucial to acknowledge the statistics that say otherwise. The cold and flu season leads to millions of workday and productivity losses, regardless of whether team members choose to stay home or report to the office while sick.
Want to optimize your health and performance this season? Schedule an introductory call to learn how Arootah Health Coaches can assist you in achieving your goals.