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Combat absenteeism caused by flu-shot shortage

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in FMLA Guidelines,HR Management,Human Resources

Issue: Experts are predicting a sharp rise in flu victims this winter due to the unexpected shortfall in flu vaccines.

Risk: More absenteeism and presenteeism (sick employees coming to work) can hammer productivity.

Advice: Use the tips below to minimize flu disruptions and create a healthy workplace.

Now's a good time to remind employees to stay home if they catch the flu, rather than come to work and infect everyone. With the flu vaccine in short supply this year, experts predict a spike in flu victims.

"With a serious flu season looming, the idea of the 'hero worker' that manages to punch in for a full day's work, despite illness, needs to be discouraged," warns Lori Rosen, analyst for workplace information firm CCH Inc.

To drive that point home, HR should: 

  • Foster a healthy environment. Speak with managers to ensure that they're fostering an environment that makes sick employees comfortable to ask to go home or, better yet, not report to work in the first place. 
  • Set a good example. Urge managers to lead by example by not coming to work with the flu.
  • Establish guidelines, and make them visible to employees. Help employees understand when they should stay home and when it's safe to return to work. 
  • Revisit your EAP and health care support services. Determine if you can direct employees to a hotline or Web site where they can access frequently asked questions (FAQs) and seek guidance on taking care of their health during flu season. 
  • Post helpful tips on how to avoid spreading germs. Include such information on employee bulletin boards or your organization's Intranet. 
  • Work with your employees and cleaning crew to keep common areas clean. Make sure such areas are cleaned regularly to eliminate flu germs; that may even include cleaning conference rooms between meetings.


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