Preventing and responding to seasonal illnesses

January 18, 2018 | SECURA Insurance

Don't go viral

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), influenza alone costs the United States $10.4 billion in hospitalizations and outpatient medical costs for adults. In fact, almost 60 percent of reported flu hospitalizations affected adults between the ages of 18-64.

As a business owner or leader, consider that the CDC’s figure doesn’t even take into account costs associated with:

  • Other seasonal illnesses beyond influenza (common cold, bronchitis, strep throat, etc.).
  • Time away from work for associate illnesses and dependent care.
  • The impact on your company’s performance.

Peak seasons

The time to prepare for sickness is before germs hit your team. Illnesses can happen anytime, but flu season generally peaks between December and February, although it can stretch from October through May. Consider how you canprevent an outbreak and how you can respond quickly to limit the impact and costs to your business.

Five tips to help your associates avoid illness

1. Vaccinate

Encourage associates to get a flu vaccine each year and stay up to date with whooping cough and other vaccinations. It’s the single most effective way to prevent illness.

Tip: Ask your health insurance company or a local provider if they are willing to host a vaccination clinic on site at your company.

2. Handwashing

Encourage associates to wash their hands or use hand sanitizer frequently, even if they’re on a
job site.

Tip: Make sanitizer available to associates and place it in common areas, where germs are likely to spread.

3. Sanitize

The flu virus can continue to infect people for up to 48 hours if they touch it on a surface.

Tip: Before you see an uptick in reported sick time, ask your cleaning service if they offer additional sanitization services or stock up on disinfectants.

4. Plan for sick time

Time is money, but offering a generous sick time benefit could help you limit the overall impact of illness on your bottom line. Associates will be more likely to stay home and avoid spreading illness to their colleagues.

Tip: Management can be especially effective in supporting the responsible use of sick time benefits. Encourage managers to monitor teams for illness and support associates who are ill in taking time away from work.

5. Communicate

When a high number of associates are ill, communication at all levels can help your teams and projects continue to run as well as possible. Don’t wait to establish good communication until you’re shorthanded.

Tip: Create staffing contingency plans, so you and your associates know what to expect. Make sure plans, logs, and reports are kept up to date, so people can pick up where others left off.

For more tips for your business, visit our business blog.

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