Invasion of the Working Cold or Flu

By Adam Hart

My day started off just like so many others. I got up, brushed my teeth, jumped in the shower, made a quick cup of joe and headed out the door for work. But what made this day different from most others was how I had spent the previous 12 hours. Usually sound asleep by 11:00pm, this night I found myself tossing and turning while coughing and sneezing until dawn. My fever of 101 had me shivering for most of the full moon and into the sunrise. After spending much of the night with a cool damp cloth over my forehead (thanks honey) and filled up with a heavy doses of over-the-counter cold and flu remedies, I started this day a little slower than usual.


For a split second I contemplated staying in bed all day, but a few thoughts entered into my drowsy and foggy mind. What would my co-workers think? I have too many deadlines to keep up with. I need to pay for that new flat screen TV and if I am away for even one day I might lose face with my employer. Despite having come down with the flu, I decided to force myself out of bed and off to work.


Do you remember the last time you took your cold or flu for a trip to the office? This sharing of your illness in the workplace is not a new phenomenon and is known as presenteeism. This cold and flu season presenteeism will once again creep its ugly germs and bad bacteria into almost every workplace across North America.


What is Presenteeism?

Presenteesim is essentially the opposite of absenteeism. When you make that decision to take your illness to work with you, you are in fact contributing to a growing problem facing thousands of employers and hundreds of thousands of fellow co-workers who are also your neighbours, friends and family.


Choosing to go to work in spite of illness is considered one of the leading threats to employee efficiency and workplace safety. Having a negative impact on business performance such as mistakes and low production is only the beginning of this growing concern. One of the main impacts presenteeism has on a company is its influence on workplace wellness and if not managed properly could have significant repercussions.


With cold and flu season just around the corner it is imperative that employers provide sufficient opportunity for employees to choose to work from home if sick or implement a system to ensure employees feel comfortable keeping their illness away from the workplace.


With employee wellness just starting to hit the radar in North America, many employers are beginning to tap into their wellness options in order to maintain a healthy workplace. Until your company implements a wellness program much of the responsibility comes down to taking your health into your own hands. To increase your ability of avoiding the dreaded cold or flu this season here are the top six cold and flu busting action eteps.


1. Get sufficient sleep

To ensure you body is well rested try and get at least eight hours of sleep every night. Your immune system relies on quality rest so do your best to avoid late nights and reenergize with quality down time.


2. Partake in a steady dose of exercise

Sign up for something fresh and new such as pilates, indoor rock climbing or try a team sport to ensure you get at least 20-30 minutes of cardio three times a week.


3. Eat Whole Foods

Whole foods are foods that have not been broken down, altered or transformed in any way and offer your body superior nutrition. The six main whole foods are nuts and seeds, grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables. Try and include a variety of these foods in your brown bag for every lunch.


4. Probiotics

Store a jar of Udo’s Choice Adult Blend Probiotics in your fridge at work. This will ensure that the next time there is a sick co-worker running around the office you can replenish your good bacteria and avoid attracting their cold or flu.


5. Hand Sanitizer

Keep a jar of all-natural hand sanitizer made from essential oils in your office and apply whenever you return to your desk. Many unwanted germs are transferred by touch and are scattered throughout the workplace.


6. Flax Seed Oil

Keep a jar of flax seed oil in your office fridge. By taking two teaspoons per day you will be sure to energize your immune system with a healthy dose of omega 3, 6 and 9 essential fatty acids. Nearly every system in the body can benefit from flax seed oil including the cardiovascular system, immune system, circulatory system and nervous system, as well your joints.


After a long day in the office, my body was aching, my nose was begging for some softer tissues and my lungs felt as if there was a five alarm fire blazing through every breath. Next time, I’m staying home.


Adam Hart is a speaker, trainer, author and coach. As founder of
Power of Food, Adam specializes in providing employee wellbeing solutions for creating an energized and healthy workplace.  

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