The flu. If you’ve ever had it, you know just how miserable it can be. And, so you’re probably among the first to get in line, roll up your sleeve and get vaccinated every year.

Too bad it’s not that simple for employers. They are the ones who must deal with the the numerous physical and financial impacts of the virus, especially high employee absenteeism, and ultimately put safeguards in place to protect people, operations and assets.

The flu is serious business.

In fact, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that as many as 111 million workdays are missed annually due to the virus, costing employers $7 billion a year in sick days and worker productivity. The CDC also estimates that businesses spend an additional $10.4 billion every year in direct costs associated with employee hospital stays, doctor visits, medicine, etc. Now imagine these numbers should the flu reach the pandemic level as it did with H1N1 in 2009.

Ready or not?

Is your organization prepared for high employee absenteeism, the possible shifting of operations to other, unaffected locations, or the immediate transfer of responsibilities to qualified individuals? Hopefully, the answer is yes, as these are all very real possibilities when it comes to a widespread outbreak of the flu, an epidemic or even worse, a pandemic. As such, infectious diseases should be part of every organization’s business continuity plan (BCP).

A BCP that has a worst-case flu event among its many contingencies serves two key purposes. First, it aims to minimize the spread of the virus in the workplace, including suppliers, customers and others. Second, it provides measures for the continuance or quick restoration of essential operations and services, such as IT.

Over the years, BOLDplanning has supported numerous public and private sector organizations nationwide in the development and implementation of comprehensive BCPs. Today, the company’s portfolio has expanded to encompass easy-to-use online planning software for Emergency Operations Plans (EOPs), Continuity of Operations/Government Plans (COOPs/COGs), Hazard Mitigation Plans (HMPs), as well as Training and Exercises.

Regardless of the type plan your organization needs or requires, BOLDplanning can provide the guidance, expertise and tools necessary to safeguard employees, operations and if applicable, profits, in all types of situations. Email to learn more now.

Take some precautions.

Aside from having a well-defined plan for combatting the flu or other infectious disease in the workplace, there are several simple and proactive measures your organization can take to keep the virus at bay. Among them, it can:

  • Sponsor an “in-office” immunization day, during which employees can receive the flu shot at no charge. Just remember it takes about two weeks to be fully effective.
  • Reimburse employees for the cost of immunization if received outside the office.
  • Put up posters encouraging employees to wash their hands often, along with the proper procedures for doing so.
  • Remind employees of flu symptoms and other health and safety precautions via the intranet.
  • Encourage employees to take sick leave or work from home, if possible, should they become ill.
  • Track the flu’s progression across the country, so you know exactly where it is raging at any given time.

While health experts seem to agree that the 2017-2018 flu season will be a harsh one, a pandemic does not seem likely – at least not at this early stage. Just know that flu activity commonly peaks in the U.S. between December and February, and the virus can even hang on all the way through May. So, we all have a long way to go. Stay well!