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Influenza outbreak could cost employers $9.4 billion

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in HR Management,Human Resources

The aggressive strain of flu currently making its way across the country is prompting experts to issue warnings to reduce the spread of infection—including urging workers to stay out of the workplace if they get sick.

This is excellent advice that workers should follow. However, it is likely to lead to millions of lost workdays and billions of dollars in lost productivity. If workers take four sick days to recover from the flu, the cost to employers in lost productivity could reach $9.4 billion, according to an estimate from outplacement and executive coaching firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

Some tips to keep influenza from spreading throughout your workforce, making it easier to maintain productivity during flu season:

  • Tell workers to stay home if they get sick. Assure them they won’t be punished for taking sick time off.
  • Increase the number of shifts. This will reduce the number of people working in the office at one time.
  • Limit meetings. If there is no need to gather large groups of workers in a confined space, then do not do it. Conduct meetings via conference calls or video conferencing.
  • Expand telecommuting. Determine who can work from home or other locations. This will keep people off public transportation (where infection risk is high) and out of the office.
  • Institute flexible leave policies to allow parents to care for an ill child or one who is home due to school closures.
  • Provide no-touch trash cans and hand sanitizer.

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