Top Tips for Employers and Employees in Surviving the Cold and Flu Season

2018 for many may have started with a sore head, but not all of those would have been the result of excessive enjoyment bringing in the New Year. For many 2018 started with a sore throat, a runny nose, and a wish to stay in bed as the cold and flu season hit the UK. Hospitals have been feeling the strain and many people seem to have fallen ill.


The difference between a Cold and the Flu:

  • Cold:
    • Develops more gradually over one or two days
    • Is most contagious during the early stages
    • Tends to have more nasal issues
    • Individuals should start to feel better after a few days although some colds can last up to two weeks.
  • Flu:
    • Usually is much quicker at developing with symptoms appearing 1-3 days after infection
    • Fever, tiredness, and muscle aches are more likely and more severe
    • Individuals should begin to feel better within a week or so, but they may feel tired for much longer


Symptoms of Cold and Flu:

  • Blocked or runny nose
  • Sore throat
  • Headaches
  • Cough
  • Sneezing
  • Pressure in your ears and face
  • Loss of taste and smell
  • A high temperature or fever
  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Feeling exhausted and needing to lie down


Top Tips for surviving the Cold and Flu Season:

  1. Rest:
  • If an individual comes down with a cold or the flu it is recommended that they rest, drink plenty of fluids and eat healthily, taking over the counter painkillers or remedies where necessary (speak to a pharmacist for more information and remember to read the instructions).
  • Findings show that those affected tend to be less productive. If an individual has the sniffles, are sneezing, and have a sore throat they have a cold. Individuals are contagious 2-3 days before the symptoms appear and until they are gone. They may be better staying at home to recover more quickly and to reduce the risk of sharing their bugs with others in the office.
  • Tip for employer: Where possible consider allowing employees to work from home. Allowing employees to conduct some work at home may help reduce staffing pressures due to illness whilst also reducing the risk of others in the office catching the illness.
  1. Ventilate rooms but also keep warm:
  • Whether at home or at work ventilating the room may help to reduce the spread of the virus. Some research suggests the way we act in winter helps spread a cold infection. In winter we spend more time indoors with the windows sealed therefore creating a prime environment for people to breathe in the same air including any infective partials.
  • However, remember to stay warm, research also suggests that cold dry air helps a cold virus grow.
  1. Keep up excellent hygiene practices:
  • Wash your hands regularly and use alcohol gel were required
  • Use tissues, sneezing and coughing into them then throwing them away after one use
  • Clean surfaces and crockery properly
  • Tip for employer: Supply plenty of tissues, soap, and hand gel. Encouraging good hygiene practices may help to reduce the spread of the illness.


If individuals are generally fit and healthy they can usually manage the symptoms themselves.

For additional information:



  1. Common Cold (NHS) –
  2. What is ‘Aussie’ flu and should we be worried? (BBC) –
  3. The reasons for the Season: why flu strikes in Winter (Harvard, December 2014) –
  4. Common cold: Too unwell to work? (BootsWebMD) –