Flu season is here. Is your business ready for the potential impact this flu season could bring? While most businesses may not think of flu as being anything to worry about, we can’t forget that approximately 36,000 people die from the flu in the United States each year and over 200,000 people are hospitalized with flu-related symptoms.

If the flu reaches even a fraction of its predicted potential, your business could be severely impacted. This is especially true in small businesses where each person plays a critical role and resources to replace that person on a temporary basis may be unavailable or impractical.

The continuity of business operations should be the key focus in planning for this season’s flu. Here are a few things to consider for this flu season:

  • Educate your workforce. Hold sessions with your workforce to help them understand the flu – how it spreads, how to prevent getting it, actions employees can take at work and at home.
  • Workplace practices. Establish practices such as placing hand sanitizer near shared equipment such as fax and copy machines. Hold regular ‘sanitizing break’ where employees use company provided sanitizing wipes to clean keyboards, telephones and desk surfaces. Meet with the building management or cleaning company management to understand their cleaning practices. In confined work areas, establish ‘social distancing’ practices to have workers
  • Workplace policies. Establish policies for telecommuting and recommend working from home when someone suspects they or someone in their family may have flu-like symptoms. Mandate that all sick employees should stay home and away from the workplace.
  • Hold a flu vaccination clinic. Holding a flu vaccination clinic at work accomplishes multiple purposes. It reduces the amount of time employees need to take off in order to get a flu vaccine. This is often reason people don’t get vaccinated. It also reinforces the importance of getting a flu shot to your business and the value employees provide to keeping your business productive and healthy. If your company is too small, provide time off (2 hours is suggested) for employees to go to their doctor for a vaccination.

Incorporating these practices and policies into your workplace can go a long way to diminish the impact this flu season may have on your business.