Even your average flu season can wreak havoc on any office. But with H1N1 now in the mix, we’re looking at record-breaking absenteeism this year.
This winter, employers can’t simply pass along the same old advice – cover your mouth when you sneeze, etc. – and expect their workforce to stay healthy.
Here are three proactive ways to keep your workplace running smoothly during flu season.
1.) Review policies. Every health center stresses that companies should tell employees to “stay home when you’re sick.”
And while paid-time-off (PTO) banks are great at controlling absences for sick or vacationing workers, they are more likely to cause employees to soldier through when they’re feeling sick – to avoid losing a vacation day.
Allowing employees to work from home more often is a great way to limit the chances of a semi-sick employee spreading something through the entire office.
2.) Collect employee info. To combat the H1N1 flu virus, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said it’s OK for employers to gather employees’ personal info (Example: If day-care centers were closed during a pandemic, would you have to care for a child? etc.) – as long as they ask broad, yes/no questions that aren’t limited to disability-related inquiries.
The CDC’s complete guide, “ADA-Compliant Employer Preparedness for the H1N1 Flu Virus,” can be found on its Web site: www.cdc.gov.
3.) Reward ’em for getting vaccinated. It’s important that employees get both the seasonal influenza and the 2009 H1N1 vaccine.
Sometimes offering free or low-cost flu shots isn’t enough. To get stubborn workers vaccinated, try a prevention rewards program with incentives like:
- Gift cards of $20-$25 to department stores, restaurants, etc., or
- Contests. One company doubled participation by registering all flu-shot participants for an iPod.