It’s that time of year again. As the days get shorter, colds, cases of the flu, and bugs seem to spring from the woodwork.
Aches, pains, sniffles… many of us know the misery too well. The thoughts of spending a few miserable weeks in work bring fear to many – and as a retailer, it’s not like you can take a couple of days off to lie at home, recuperating.
Unfortunately, the flu season coincides with the busiest season in the retail calendar. Halloween, Black Friday, Thanksgiving, the holidays… they’re coming fast and furiously.
In the States, paid sick leave isn’t legally required and it’s worse again for independent retailers. While there are many perks to running a store, things can get tricky when you need time for you, whether it be a holiday or sick day.
As the owner, the reality is that you’re the key part of the business. After all, it’s hard to run the ship without the captain. This applies especially to smaller stores, where it could just be you.
Essentially, exposure to the flu (or other illnesses) is unavoidable as a retailer – so how can you stay healthy?
How to stay healthy during flu season
Even with a common cold, it can be hard to give your all in work when your body is calling you to rest on a comfy couch with a blanket and a cup of warm tea. A severe case of the flu can leave you in bed for weeks and weeks. Follow our tips to stay healthy and well.
Strive to be as healthy as possible
Even the healthiest people can be struck down with an illness – but it’s even harder when you’re on your feet dealing with the public all day. Retailers are some of the busiest people so it’s important to take time to look after your health.
Try and build up your immune system throughout the year, so you’re giving your body the best shot at fighting infection.
According to Harvard Health Publishing: ‘Following general good-health guidelines is the single best step you can take toward naturally keeping your immune system strong and healthy. Every part of your body, including your immune system, functions better when protected from environmental assaults and [is] bolstered by healthy-living strategies’ such as:
- No smoking.
- Eating plenty of fruit and vegetables.
- Taking regular exercise.
- Getting plenty of sleep.
- Minimizing stress.
As hard as it may be for any business owner, stress avoidance is essential for your general wellbeing and mental health too. Something as small as a daily walk or 10 minutes of meditation (Bill Gates is a big fan too) can help.
If you’re open to trying meditation, apps like Headspace are a great place to start. In general, aiming to have a healthy body and a healthy mind can help build pillars of good health in your body.
Get the flu vaccine
Independent retailers should consider getting a flu vaccination this year. While there are no guarantees, the flu shot gives you excellent protection heading into your busiest time. It’s good insurance and it only takes a few minutes of your time.
If there is budget to cover it, consider paying for your staff’s flu shots too. Some pharmacies even offer corporate packages. Consider partnering with your local pharmacy to administer the vaccine if you feel this could help keep your staff healthy too.
Aim to get a flu shot as soon as it becomes available with your local healthcare provider. The CDC recommends getting the flu shot every year.
Have back up staff
Make sure you have a bank of people you can fall back on. Maybe you’ve got some loyal permanent staff that you know you can rely on. Other retailers may need to call in reinforcements like family and friends. Have a think about who you would pick…
Practice good in-store hygiene
Throughout the day you’re handling money, people are touching items in your store… basically, there is no escaping the germs and bugs floating around your store.
Clean the store as often as you can with sanitation products. Some stores might be more at risk. Toy stores and hardware stores are much more high-touch, so allow for that. Sanitize display products if you can. You don’t want to damage or stain items by cleaning them, so practice caution.
Deep clean your store every couple of weeks. Make it a team activity as more hands will make light of the task. Assign a couple of tasks to each staff member, blast some music, and get cleaning.
On a daily basis, make sure to wipe down surfaces, doors and handles with antibacterial spray.
Keep some antibacterial hand sanitizer behind the desk and make sure to wash your hands regularly – just not in front of customers!
Save for a rainy day
Saving can be very tough if you’re living paycheck by paycheck. If you’re in the position to do so, it could be a good idea to have a rainy day fund for sickness or emergencies. You will be thankful for it if you need a week for yourself.
Think about insurance
In the States, health insurance can be expensive, but if you can afford it, it should be a serious consideration.
Whether you’re a one-person show, work alongside family or have staff, there’s no harm exploring different types of insurance options. Check healtcare.gov to see if you are eligible for government healthcare if you’re self-employed or have a bigger setup. Otherwise, private healthcare could be another option.
There are many ways to give yourself (and your store) some sense of security this flu season. The time to start preparing is now!
Disclaimer: Always seek direct medical advice from your doctor or another qualified clinician.
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