The financial effect flu season has on the nation’s businesses is significant. According to the Annual Flu Season Survey, each year there are an estimated “70 million missed worked days” and “billions in lost workplace productivity.”
Sick employees either come to work sick, perform poorly, and potentially infect the workforce, or they stay home and cost the company time-off expenses.
Authors of the Annual Flu Season Survey stated that “nearly 90 percent of office workers come to work even when they know they are sick” and this is even despite the fact that most of them understand they are contagious.
Sick employees is something businesses clearly want to avoid but the solution is not as simple as keeping germs out of the workplace. A person is contagious with the flu, for example, one day before symptoms even present and up to five days after. Inevitably, the flu virus is going to make its way into the workplace. Many janitorial teams work hard to eradicate germs by meticulously cleaning the office each night. This strategy can prevent a person from being infected in that locale but over-cleanliness tends to depress the immune system. The best prescription for keeping the workforce healthy is nutrition.
Employers can help with that by making super foods available to employees! By offering immunity boosting foods that employees can munch on throughout the day, employees’ immune systems get a boost with special nutrients and some of the other sugary junk employees might otherwise snack on will be replaced by healthier options.
Eight Immunity Boosting Foods For the Office
The nutrients we need to build and maintain a strong immune system are numerous but a few of the ones to focus on include Vitamins C and E, beta-carotene, zinc, protein, and anti-oxidants. Be aware that these foods won’t shorten the duration of a viral infection but can help lessen the symptoms or prevent the infection all together.
- Walnuts and almonds (these nuts contain Vitamin E)
- Plain yogurt with berries (the live bacteria helps prevent infection)
- Green tea (tea contains anti-oxidants)
- Oranges (citrus contains ample Vitamin C)
- Mushrooms (these are high in selenium and anti-oxidants)
- Carrots, peppers, and celery (vegetables are high in carotenoids and anti-oxidants)
- Fresh sauerkraut or kim chi (cabbage contains glutamine and these foods contain healthy live bacteria)
- Chicken soup (homemade soup made with the bones contains minerals and glutamine)
Strategies for Keeping Germs Out of the Office
- Keep the office clean but don’t over-sanitize. Anti-bacterial soaps and cleansers kill all bacteria – including the good ones which are needed to fight the pathogenic ones.
- Offer telecommuting for sick employees so that they can continue to get paid and work but leave the germs at home.
- Offer wellness programs to encourage relaxation and physical fitness.
- Just one teaspoon of sugar greatly weakens the immune system. Encourage employees to forgo sugar during the cold and flu season.