Well, it's that time of year again. That's right, it's fall already. And while many of us may look forward to the changing colors of the leaves, many employers often overlook the importance of planning for the upcoming flu season and the effective strategies that are available to help protect their businesses from the devastating affects of influenza.
According to a Walgreens study from September 2015, influenza was responsible for over 100 million lost workdays during the 2014 - 2015 flu season. In fact, many sources list influenza as a leading cause of employee absence. Some estimates say that 10 - 12% of all employee absences are due to employees contracting the flu virus and each affected employee might miss up to six days of work and need up to two weeks to make a full recovery. That's over $7 billion in lost wages; two-thirds of the missed workdays were employer-paid sick leave, while the flu sliced more than $10.4 billion of company productivity.
Also, imagine the increased potential for workplace accidents as workers attempt to work while self-medicating themselves for symptoms of the flu. Taking medications that may cause drowsiness, delayed reaction times, or just simply poor decision-making. Any such serious accident or injury could damage a company's reputation and could also cause insurance premiums to soar.
Studies have documented that work practices in general are conducive to influenza's spread. Once the flu begins sweeping through a workplace, controlling it becomes very difficult. Developing an effective flu prevention strategy could potentially help soften the blow of this year's flu season.
Below are some tips that are recommended by the CDC, or the Centers for Disease Control, for implementing a Workplace Flu Vaccination Clinic. These are:
If your company will not vaccinate its employees, there are still other ways to help prevent flu from spreading in your workplace . These include:
Usually, the effectiveness of a Flu-Prevention Campaign correlates directly with the time and effort put into it. Determining a return on investment (ROI) helps create a sound business case for a Worksite Flu Prevention Program. Some objectives to measure include: rates of absenteeism, reduced productivity, direct health savings and employee engagement. Protecting the health and safety of employees, as well as safeguarding the company's bottom line, offer ample reason to invest in a worksite program.
For more information on preventing the flu in your workplace, please visit:
Pat Kelley, CET
Board Certified Environmental, Safety & Health Trainer