Ah, the time of year when people come together and give each other handfuls of body aches, sneezing, coughing and all other kinds of unmentionable ailments. It’s time for cold and flu season.

So what does this have to do with business? Unless you have the world’s healthiest and cleanest staff members, it could mean a lot. Staff members suffering from either a cold or flu can lose up to 40% productivity and infect others causing more and more lost production. So what can be done? Common sense will tell you to wash your hands, sneeze and cough into the crook of your arm and take your vitamin C. While these are all great plans, everyone can go a bit further to help ward off the sick.

Prepare yourself and everyone else. Purchase extra supplies such as tissues, hand sanitizers, cleaning wipes for phones, computers and desks and consider purchasing no-touch trashcans.

Use visual reminders. Place reminders in bathrooms, break rooms and anywhere else there is a place to wash hands.

Send out an e-mail if you know the flu shot is available in your area, if you can afford it, consider a small reimbursement for staff members who get the flu shot.

Tell sick people to stay home. If they are sick their minds are not on their work anyway. There is no need to let others, as well as yourself possibly get infected.

Practice what you preach. Keep your hands washed, clean your desk space and take time off when you are sick.

According to the CDC late November is the peak season for the flu and every year more than 1 billion cases of the common cold circulate throughout the United States. So start your preventative measures now and have a healthy holiday season.