Avoiding the Flu Like the Plague
Each flu season in America, between 5% and 20% of American’s contract the flu. This leads to 111 million lost productive work days, which costs American business approximately 7 billion dollars! In addition, the direct costs (doctor’s visits, medication, hospitalization) cost individuals over 4.5 billion dollars a year! Source: CDC
Whether it’s in your accounting department or forklift operators, you want to limit an outbreak at your company and contain any outbreak that does occur.
The effects of lost productivity can have a great effect on your ability to deliver products and services and provide customer service, which can lead to a negative impact on your bottom line. But there are things you can do to lower the risk at the department level and facility level. It all starts with planning and communication.
- Developing a plan to combat influenza? Businesses plan for all sorts of calamities and naturally occurring disasters. Does your company have a preparedness plan to prevent a flu outbreak? A tremendous amount of information is available to help you plan for and combat an outbreak of the flu a http://www.flu.gov/planning-preparedness/business/
- Educate your employees and take steps to encourage vaccination. One study showed a decrease in over 71% in hospitalizations when a flu vaccination was administered to adults of all ages (source). Flu vaccines not only reduce the chances of contracting the flu, but it also reduces the effects of the flu if an employee contracts it, thus enabling them to get back to full productivity sooner.
- Use Resources. The CDC has a great Business Tool Kit to help you educate your employees about the flu, how to prevent it and what to do if you think you are coming down with it. Visit the CDC Business Tool Kit Webapge.
- Proper sanitary procedures are also essential during the flu season. Placing hand sanitizers throughout your facility and encouraging if not outright requiring their use will help contain the spread of the virus, should an employee become infected. There are additional steps you can take to prevent the spread of the flu, including increasing janitorial services or assigning teams to assist in the sanitization of routinely used and shared points, such as water fountains, door knobs/handles, bathrooms, and kitchens.
- Send them home! If an employee starts to show the signs of influenza, it’s important to remove them from the facility as soon as possible and require that they remain home until symptoms have subsided, particularly a fever.
- Seek immediate attention. If you or anyone around starts to feel fatigue, loss of appetite, lethargy, fever or any of the other first signs of the flu, get to a doctor and ask about anti-viral drugs. These drugs can cut your misery in half, as well as your time off work, and productivity.
The effects of flu season can be dramatic if left unaddressed. But developing a plan to deal with the flu and spreading education before the flu spreads itself around your facility will help you maintain your business productivity during this flu season.
Our focus is frequently on productivity, and this is not always about equipment and processes. Sometimes peripheral components can have an impact on our bottom lines, and it is important to us to serve as your partner in addressing all facts of productivity. We encourage you to visit the flu.gov site to learn more.