In the past few weeks, there has been a lot of emphasis about preparing for the upcoming cold and flu season. Media outlets and the United States Government have stepped up communications about illness and the impact on businesses. In a preparedness guide for small businesses published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, businesses are urged to examine the impact of employee absences now, before illnesses increase and the cold and flu season is in full swing.
- Develop policies to encourage workers to stay home if they are ill.
- Look into flexible working options, like teleworking, to accommodate care for ill family members or staff members.
- Provide resources and a work environment that promotes personal hygiene like tissues and hand sanitizers.
- Instruct employees who are well but who have an ill family member at home with the flu that they can go to work as usual.
- Encourage workers to obtain a seasonal influenza vaccine, if it is appropriate for them.
- Plan to implement practices to minimize face-to-face contact between workers if advised by the local health department. Consider extending the use of e-mail, Web sites and teleconferences, encouraging flexible work arrangements like telecommuting or flexible work hours to reduce the number of workers who must be at the work site at the same time or in one specific location.
- If an employee does become sick while at work, place the employee in a separate room or area until they can go home, away from other workers. Ask the employee to go home as soon as possible.
In addition to educating your employees, it is important to examine the impact on your service levels and the customer experience. “What if” scenarios run in your workforce management software can help you understand the business implications of employee absences due to illness, and can help you optimize schedules to continue to serve your customers and reduce the impact on your workforce.