How to Prevent the Cold and Flu in Your Restaurant

“Cold and Flu” season comes around about once a year and can leave you short on staff. Typically, when one person gets the bug, it quickly spreads it to other workers and potentially even diners. Of course you have no choice but to send sick employees home to recover, leaving yourself short-staffed for the remainder of the shift. In the healthcare field, preventative practices are better than reactive practices. Instead of letting the cold and flu bug take over your restaurant, here are a few things you can do to keep a healthy staff through all (well…most) of “Cold and Flu” season.

Suggest Vaccinations

As of late, there’s been a ton of controversy around the concept of vaccination. While you cannot force your employees to get a flu vaccination, you can foot the bill and set up a specific time to allow each person to get vaccinated if s/he wishes to do so. Sometimes it’s not a strict opposition to vaccinations that is preventing someone, but rather the effort and money that are associated with it.

Make Washing Hands a Huge Priority

Proper sanitation practices should be first priority in a restaurant to begin with. However, when the flu and cold season rolls around, regular reminders at staff meetings and signs posted around the restaurant will help enforce these practices. Perhaps even dedicate a meeting to remind your staff of proper sanitation procedures and the harsh consequences that are associated with failure to follow them.

Create a Firm Sick Policy

While many employees may try to work through the pain because they cannot afford to miss shifts, it’s not safe for a sick employee to finish out a shift. Implementing a firm sick policy can keep the bug from spreading. Make sure to send any sick employee home as soon as you notice symptoms of illness. Though it may be tempting to keep him/her around on a busy day, illness could spread and you could find yourself short three or even four employees on a day just as busy.

Proper Cleaning

One of the easiest ways to make sure illness doesn’t spread through your restaurant is routine cleaning. Making sure all your employees keep up with regular cleaning duties is essential. This ranges from daily tasks — such as sweeping and mopping — to weekly tasks, such as cleaning out the ice bin and the walk-in cooler. Along with the employee cleaning, it’s important to bring in professionals to handle other cleaning tasks. Professional hood cleaners should come once a month to ensure your kitchen hoods remain clean. If not, you may have germs and bacteria spreading from the dirty hoods. Cold and flu season can be a struggle for restaurants. However, with the proper procedures in place and the right preventative measures, you can keep your restaurant and staff at full health.