While most businesses cover their property in case of catastrophic fire or weather, many fail to plan for pandemic illness and the entity it affects most – their people. Now is the time to consider how to minimize infections among staff, prepare for a temporarily reduced workforce, and lessen the effect of other business interruptions.
Prevention and planning
In the absence of a vaccine, prevention is the first line of defense during a pandemic. To lessen the spread of the flu and its potential impact on your enterprise, share these important health tips with your employees:
- Stay home. Anyone ill with flu symptoms should remain at home until they're no longer contagious.
- Wash hands. Ask employees to wash their hands with soap and water at least 5 times a day and use hand sanitizer to supplement hand washing. Make sanitizer readily available in public areas.
- Keep clean. Use sanitizing supplies to clean shared areas and equipment, such as lunchrooms, door handles, elevator buttons and copy machines. Encourage employees to sanitize their personal workspaces as well.
- Plan ahead. Have a detailed plan in place to shift work hours. Remember that parents' schedules will be affected by cancelled schools or daycares. To curb flu transmission, consider replacing in-person business meetings with teleconferencing. Allow employees to work from home, if available.
- Communicate clearly. Help your employees understand what’s expected of them and how you're responding to the situation. Set simple, flexible policies around alternate worksites and schedules.
- Protect customers. Make sure service staff are healthy, and consider preventive measures such as high-quality masks and gloves.
To prove their value to the company, employees will often work through illness. But "presenteeism," or working while sick, actually does more harm than good and can cost your business quite a bit in lost productivity.
Be prepared to counter well-intended presenteeism with clear, reasonable guidelines. Review attendance and paid-time-off policies to ensure they don't pressure sick employees to report for work. And set a good example by staying home when you’re ill.
Keep in mind that widespread absenteeism and the resulting lost productivity are not covered by standard business policies. And many business interruption insurance policies will not cover business owners for flu-related losses.