The flu can be a big disruption to the workplace, especially for small organizations. The flu season is responsible for the loss of approximately 17 million workdays each year in the United States. During the 2013-2014 flu season, the working population – adults 18-64 years of age – accounted for almost 60% of reported flu-related hospitalizations. Working parents of children sick with the flu who went for medical care also had between 11-73 hours of work time lost (equivalent to up about $1,456)1.
Employers have an opportunity to not only protect their employees and their families from the flu, but also increase productivity, reduce absenteeism, lower health care costs, and limit other negative health impacts of the flu.
Is your workplace prepared for flu season?
Here are three easy steps to consider:
- Promote the flu vaccine. Vaccination against influenza (the flu) is recommended by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as the first and most important step to protecting yourself. To overcome vaccine barriers, such as time and convenience, host a workplace flu shot clinic.
- Educate your employees. Educate your employees about influenza and the myths around vaccines. Inform them about workplace policies such as sick days and procedures for working from home. Educate them about proper hygiene and every day precautions against the flu.
- Reduce the sick day stigma. Encourage employees to stay home if they have flu-like symptoms. Influenza is highly contagious and can cause an office epidemic. People should not feel pressured, stressed, and/or expected to go to work when they are not feeling well. Telecommunication is an excellent way to stay home and still get work done.
To help organizations and employers learn and carry out strategies for preventing the flu, CDC created a free toolkit, flyers, posters, and other materials for distribution around the workplace.
There’s no time for the flu. Take action today to keep your employees and business healthy.
 Flu Season: How CDC helps protect your employees and your business. (2015). Retrieved from CDC Foundation: http://www.cdcfoundation.org/businesspulse/flu-prevention-infographic