Flu is a serious contagious disease. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 200,000 people are hospitalized for flu complications each year, 20,000 of these are children under 5, and 36,000 people die from flu annually.
What can employers do to reduce health care costs and protect employees from contacting the flu?
First and foremost, encourage employees to get the flu shot!
- Offer flu shots on company premises as part of a wellness program.
- Do your medical benefits offer flu shots with no deductible or co-pay?
- Educate your employees — you cannot get the flu from a flu shot. The vaccine does not contain live viruses.
Send sick employees home
Review your sick leave/absence policy to ensure that it does not punish employees for being sick. Employees who feel that they will be disciplined will have strong incentives to show up for work no matter how sick they are.
Stress preventive measures
- Make certain restrooms are properly stocked witgh soap, paper towels, etc.
- The best preventive measure is to wash hands with soap and water often!
- Be creative – have a contest for employees to design postgers for flu bug prevention.
- Provide sanitizers and tissus in common areas.
- Make certain the janitorial crew regularly sanitizes the phone, computers, door knobs, etc.
In case of serious flu outbreak
- Minimize face to face meetings
- Consider telecommuting as an option
- Temporarily suspend the customary greetings of handshaking and/or hugging
Flu symptoms include fever — usually high — headache, extreme tiredness, dry cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose and muscle aches.
There is a website to check on the flu outbreak in your state: National Site for Flu Prevalence/Outbreaks