Influenza. The flu. It’s a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat, and lungs. It can lead to severe complications and even death, especially among vulnerable populations like the elderly, young children, and those with certain health conditions.
The viral infection causes cough, high temperature, shortness of breath, sore throat, sneezing, runny nose, fatigue, and upset stomach. These are common coronavirus symptoms, which means businesses should take extra care.
Consider the cost of team members away on sick leave, and the impact of staff coming into work while sick and infecting others. There are also hiring costs for temps and production losses; it all adds up.
Preparing for the flu season is essential for businesses to ensure the health and well-being of their employees and maintain operational continuity. In New Zealand, the flu season typically occurs during the winter months, which is from June to August. As we approach the colder months in New Zealand, businesses must prepare for the onset of the annual flu season.
The flu season can have a significant impact on businesses in terms of reduced productivity and increased costs.
According to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States, flu-related illnesses resulted in an estimated 111 million workdays being lost in a single flu season. This translates to billions of dollars in productivity losses.
In New Zealand, the impact of the flu season is even more profound. The country’s small geographical size and high population density make it particularly susceptible to the rapid spread of infectious diseases like the flu.
Our reliance on tourism and international trade means that any disruptions caused by the flu can have far-reaching effects.
In anticipation of the flu season, businesses must adopt proactive strategies to safeguard the well-being of their workforce and ensure operational resilience.
So, how can your business prepare for the flu season?
Encourage your employees to practice good hygiene habits, such as frequent hand washing, covering their mouths when they cough or sneeze, and staying home if they are sick.
The flu vaccine is the most effective way to prevent the flu. Encourage your employees to get vaccinated and consider offering incentives for those who do.
Businesses can take a proactive step by preparing and distributing flu kits to employees as well.
These kits, containing essential items such as tissues, hand sanitisers, masks, and informational pamphlets, empower employees with the resources needed for personal flu prevention.
If an employee becomes sick with the flu, they should stay home to recover. Implementing flexible work policies can help minimise the impact on productivity.
Without this, employees might be more likely to still come to work when sick, where they can then spread the flu further among staff.
Keep your employees informed about the steps your business is taking to prevent the spread of the flu, as well as what they can do to protect themselves and others.
Regular updates on policies or procedures related to flu prevention create transparency and ensure a collective understanding of the company’s approach.
Acknowledging the potential stress associated with flu season and the ongoing pandemic, businesses should provide resources and support for mental health.
Employee assistance programs or counselling services contribute to a supportive and resilient workforce.
Businesses must stay informed by monitoring public health advisories and updates from health authorities.
The ability to adapt plans and protocols based on the latest information ensures a dynamic and responsive approach to flu prevention.
To ensure your business is well-prepared for the flu season, it’s essential to use data-driven strategies. This means leveraging data to make informed decisions about how best to protect your employees and your business.
For example, you could use data to identify which of your employees are most at risk of getting the flu. This could be based on factors like age, underlying health conditions, or whether they are in close contact with high-risk individuals.
You could also use data to track the progress of the flu season and adjust your strategies accordingly. For instance, if the flu season is more severe than expected, you might need to implement stricter hygiene measures or offer additional incentives for flu vaccination.
Preparing for the flu season is not just about protecting your employees’ health; it’s also about safeguarding your business. By implementing data-driven strategies and promoting good hygiene practices, you can help ensure that your business is well-equipped to handle the challenges of the flu season.
Remember, the key to a successful flu season is planning and preparation. So, start preparing now and ensure your business is ready to weather the storm of the flu season.