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Monday, January 5, 2015

You Make Your Coworkers Sick!

This has been a particularly nasty flu season. The bug infiltrates schools, churches, shopping malls, and, of course, workplaces. Children bring it home from daycare centers. It’s everywhere. And it’s been ugly.

When this happens, a revival of discussion over the value of flu shots occurs. I get mine every year, regardless of naysayers. As one who had open heart surgery and is diabetic, my doctors tell me it’s very important. My wife, on the other hand, passes.

Adding to the army of those who are predisposed NOT to get a flu shot, we saw news reports in December telling us that this year’s flu shot has not been as effective against a current aggressive strain. Many took that to mean a lesser need for immunization. Bad choice.

IFLScience reports it this way: “Even if H3N2 has drifted and the vaccine does not provide maximum protection against that particular strain, it may still be able to lessen the severity of the illness. Additionally, the vaccine also protects against other strains that a patient may encounter, so health officials are still recommending the flu shot to anyone who has not yet received it.”

But that’s not the real point of my blog today. It’s the spreading of the cold and flu viruses in the workplace that we must think about. In an article worth reading on workplace warriors who show up and share the germs, a sobering reminder: “Charles P. Gerba, a University of Arizona microbiologist placed a (harmless) tracer virus on the front-door handle of an 80-person office. Within four hours, he found the virus on more than half the workers’ hands and more than half the common surfaces.”

This same researcher had some comforting advice. He claims the presence of hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes in key public areas in the workplace reduced the number of infected surfaces by 80 percent. Bring on the Lysol.

But the real question comes when determining whether you should bring your sick children to daycares and schools and bring those flu bugs to your workplace. Why do we do this? Is it true dedication to the mission? Or because we can’t afford time off or to take sick days? In either case, we can easily make our coworkers sick!

Here was surprising information to me. Science suggests adults are not the primary culprits of spreading the influenza bug, but children! As reported, “Kids start shedding the virus several days before the onset of their symptoms, and can remain infectious for up to three weeks after. For grown-ups, the window is much smaller — just a few days on average.”

The article from the New York Times assesses that illness become a “threat to productivity.” And the advice is to slow things down and not frown upon those who take time off to let sickness pass. We would all be better off.

I am so thankful we live in a society where we have access to relief methods of dealing with the flu and even ways to prevent it. What a blessing! Thank God for doctors, and the great Physician!

Other workplace diseases are not so easy to treat. Selfishness. Greed. Lust for power. Corruption. These are sicknesses of the soul. They require much deeper care.

Jesus of Nazareth once said, “…Healthy people don't need a doctor, sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.” (Mark 2:17, NLT)

Flu-like symptoms may only need bed rest and fluids. The sin virus needs the Master’s touch. For a healthy workplace, I recommend both.

And Christians, keep aspirin nearby. So you can help “Bayer one another’s burdens.”

That’s The Way WE Work. Click on the link to the right to connect via Facebook.

Catch “Let’s Talk with Mark Elfstrand" weekday afternoon from 4-6pm on AM 1160 Hope for Your Life. To listen to the live broadcast or a podcast of previous shows click here

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