A mug of tea, tissues, and glasses relating to the Healthcare Highways dicussion of the flu and how employers can protect their workforces from its negative affects on productivity. Employers, the primary source of insurance for 55.7% of Americans[i], have found themselves tasked with reducing healthcare’s unprecedented, rising costs to protect employee health, talent retention, productivity, and their bottom line. Part of reducing rising costs and containing risk lies in taking a preventive approach to healthcare, such as in the value-based care (VBC) model. This time of the year is critical in taking preventive measures, as flu season is around the corner and starts showing signs of activity as early as this month, with activity increasing through the winter season.[ii] Not taking preventative measures, ideally before flu season starts in October, can have serious consequences for your workforce.[iii] For employees, the consequences of not getting early intervention in the form of vaccines can be alarming, with flu symptoms ranging from mild (cough, sore throat, headaches) to severe (high fever, pneumonia or death).[iv] Getting flu vaccines has been shown to: keep people from contracting the flu, reduce the risk of going to the doctor by 40-60 percent, and reduce the risk of flu-associated hospitalization.[v] For employers, the consequences affect the bottom line. According to global outplacement and executive coaching firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc., the flu cost employers $21 billion in lost productivity and sick days in 2018.[vi]  

5 simple steps to prevent the spread of flu in your workplace:

 
  1. Encourage employees to get vaccinated early. Since flu vaccines take two weeks to take effect[vii], it is important to get vaccines early to give the body enough time to develop antibodies.
  2. Consider hosting a flu vaccine clinic at your workplace, if possible.[viii] Provide resources to employees about where they can get a flu vaccine in their community.
  3. Advise all employees to stay home if they are sick until at least 24 hours after their fever is gone without the use of fever-reducing medicines.[ix]
  4. Encourage hand hygiene by providing education and reminders about washing their hands.[x]
  5. Allow for telework if possible.[xi]
   
[i] https://www.census.gov/library/publications/2017/demo/p60-260.html [ii] https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/season/flu-season.htm [iii] https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/prevention-15/vaccines/fact-sheet-vaccines [iv] https://www.cdc.gov/flu/symptoms/symptoms.htm [v] https://www.cdc.gov/flu/prevent/vaccine-benefits.htm [vi] http://www.challengergray.com/press/press-releases/update-2-flu-season-cost-employers-21b [vii] https://www.cdc.gov/flu/prevent/keyfacts.htm [viii] https://www.cdc.gov/flu/business/prevent-flu-workplace.html [ix] https://www.cdc.gov/flu/business/prevent-flu-workplace.html [x] https://www.cdc.gov/flu/business/prevent-flu-workplace.html [xi] https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/tools-and-samples/toolkits/pages/managingluandepidemics.aspx