Written by: Charmaine Hollaway, Managing Director of HR & Benefits, MidwestHR
The headlines today are filled with panicked stories about the Ebola Virus infiltrating the borders of our country. Now, don’t get us wrong, this should be a concern for our government and the Centers of Disease Control (CDC) at this point. But, as an employer, there are far worse illnesses to fear…THE FLU!! You should hear dramatic music in the back of your mind from reading this, because the flu is real, it is now, and it will affect your company.
Last year (winter of 2013/14) was one of the worst flu seasons experienced as well as the most harshest winter felt by many states (especially here in the Midwest). Well, the Almanac and the CDC are both warning that this winter and flu season will be worse than the last. Do you know that it has been said (Flu.gov) that an estimated $7 billion dollars is lost each flu season in regards to company productivity?
Okay, well, now that we have your attention – what can you do to minimize the impact of the flu on your company? Well, prevention is priority number one! Here are some actions that you and your staff can do to prevent the spread of flu (and cold) viruses:
- Wash your hands with warm water and soap for a minimum of 15-20 second several times a day.
- Buy disinfectant wipes (lots of them) and put them around the office. Encourage staff to wipe down phones, keyboards, mice, staplers, pens, calculators, doorknobs, coffeepot handles, refrigerator handles, etc. – WHATEVER HANDS TOUCH, WIPE IT DOWN and do it at least once a week thereafter.
- Use a paper towel to turn off faucets after washing hands and to open doors of public washrooms.
- Use hand sanitizer between hand washings, especially when coming and going from common/public areas.
- Sneeze/cough into a tissue, elbow or even down your shirt instead of into the air. Make sure to use sanitizer when using tissue (and toss it after one use).
- STAY HOME WHEN YOU ARE SICK!
That last one is very important. Many workers come to work sick because they either have no sick time accrued, there is no sick pay or they feel that they just have to be at work or the company will suffer. Well, with the first two, consider developing a “In Case of Flu” bank of days for the company. This will allow those that need to stay home to receive the paid time off they need to recover and NOT spread the virus all over the office. It would be an easy thing to develop: Call in sick, recover, come back with a doctor’s note and receive that time off as paid.
As for the people who still come in when they are sick, reassure your staff that their health and the that of the rest of the staff is your #1 priority. Tell them it is okay to stay home, the company will manage and being without them a day or two is far better than losing many staff members to the flu. Now, grab some disinfectant spray and get ready!
Please contact us to see if MidwestHR, a Chicago PEO, is the right partner for your growing company.
MidwestHR supports growing companies by helping them simplify their business through HR Outsourcing. MidwestHR is a Certified Professional Employer Organization (CPEO) headquartered in the Chicago land area. As a CPEO, we provide business owners, CEO and CFO leaders with relief from dozens of time-consuming HR & employment related functions, while helping protect the business from ever-increasing HR demands and liabilities. In addition, our clients have the ability to offer “Fortune 500 type” benefits, while being able to better control their premiums in the process.
MidwestHR regularly works with all types of businesses, including medical practices, surgery centers, non-profits, professional service firms, technology companies, printing companies, religious organizations, start-ups, manufacturing businesses, trucking companies and financial institutions.