'Tis the Season: 10 Steps to Keep People Healthy During the Holidays

November 28, 2018 | 1423 Views

'Tis the Season: 10 Steps to Keep People Healthy During the Holidays

Gabe Hosler, FMP

As we turn the page on the calendar and begin preparing for the most magical time of the year when everyone around you suddenly starts…to get sick. Yes, that’s right – it’s going to be cold and flu season before you know it. Last year was especially bad in the US, with over 900,000 people hospitalized and 80,000 deaths caused by the flu, and some health officials are worried about a replay of that scenario again this year.

How can we, as a community of hospitality trainers, help to prevent the spread of these ailments in our hotels and restaurants? Here are 10 steps you can take during operational visits to keep people healthy:

  1. Stay home when sick – The worst thing your employees can do is come to work when they are ill and infect their co-workers and guests. When visiting your locations, listen for frequent verbal reminders about staying home from the managers (like during pre-shift meetings), look for symptoms of a cold or the flu in the staff, and say something to the management team if you think an employee might be sick while on duty.
  1. Flu shots – Encourage everyone to get flu shots, especially if they are covered by your company’s health insurance. For those without insurance, do a little research to find out where they might be able to obtain free or discounted flu shots in their community.
  1. Handwashing – Frequent and thorough handwashing is one of the most important methods to diminish the risk of getting a cold or the flu. Trainers should check that the handwashing sinks can quickly produce hot running water, are well-stocked with soap and paper towels, and have properly filled out handwashing logs for each day.
  1. Cleaning – In addition to keeping hands clean, keeping frequently touched surfaces and objects clean will also be important to lessen the chance of someone getting sick. As you walk around your hotel or restaurant, double check that all the proper cleaning and disinfecting supplies are available and that they are being used in the correct manner.
  1. Cover up – If you see someone sneezing or coughing, make sure they are covering their nose or mouth with a tissue  If a tissue’s not handy, teach them the vampire cough.
  1. Wellness posters – If your HR or training department has produced flyers covering any of the information above, look for them to be posted in areas that will be highly visible to your staff.  And if you don’t have these materials created internally, print the free versions available on the CDC website or ask your local health department.
  1. Stay hydrated – This advice isn’t just for the summer. Drinking plenty of water helps to keep your body operating at its best and helps to fight off sickness, so trainers should be reminding everyone about hydration during the winter months as well.
  1. Hand sanitizer – Even though employees may be washing their hands throughout the day, your guests might be a different story. Encourage your managers to purchase hand sanitizer for the front desk, register area, or host stand for the public to use when arriving at your hotel or restaurant.
  1. Public transportation protection – For anyone who travels to work on public transportation (and that includes those who fly between locations), consider carrying a small pack on antiseptic wipes to disinfect your seating area before you settle in. As a trainer, these packs might make for a good “prize” to hand out during the winter months when you see employees doing a good job and you want to reward their behavior.
  1. Role-modeling – Of course, everything listed above for the employees goes for trainers as well. You need to practice good hygiene, take care of yourself, and stay home when you’re not feeling well, too. 

Even when taking these steps, there are still going to be plenty of people in your organization getting sick over the next few months. As a result, it’s essential that trainers ensure that as many employees as possible are cross-trained in multiple positions so they can cover for their co-workers who need to stay home. Now is the time to be reviewing your staff training journals and checklists to find out if there will be enough coverage in case the flu hits hard at any of your locations.

Hope you all stay warm, safe, and healthy this winter!


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