When you think of flu season, you probably think about the possibility of you and your family members getting sick or whether you should all get a flu shot. But do you ever think about the impact flu season has on a company?
The seasonal flu is costly to patients, employers and our community as a whole in terms of direct and indirect medical costs and lost productivity. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), nearly 111 million workdays are lost during each flu season due to employees getting sick. That equates to approximately $7 billion each year in sick days and lost productivity. When you add in employer-paid sick time, it takes the total bill to more than $10 billion slashed from company productivity in the U.S. each year.
Many companies list the flu as one of the top causes of employee absences. Some estimates report that 10 to 12 percent of all employee absences are due to them catching the flu virus. Sick employees might miss up to six days of work and need up to two weeks to make a full recovery.
Additionally, productivity is lowered even if sick employees manage to make it into the office; typically they are not as efficient at completing tasks. According to the fourth annual Flu Season Survey from Staples, nearly 90 percent of employees still go to work even though they know they are sick. There are also costs associated with wages and training needed for temporary employees who fill gaps during regular employees’ sick time.
Between fears about today’s job market and the risk of falling behind on their workload, employees are reluctant to take sick days. But, when you’re sick, you aren’t working at your optimum level and you can put your coworkers at risk of getting sick too.
Another factor impacting productivity is that many employees miss work to take care of a sick child at home during flu season. When children get sick, there is a greater chance employees will not only miss work, but also unknowingly become a carrier of the flu and spread it at work. Once the flu starts spreading through a company, it becomes nearly impossible to control it.
Because of that, many businesses now offer on-site flu shots at no or low cost or they encourage their employees to get the vaccine at nearby clinics.
To further reduce the impact the flu has on a company, employers can:
- Encourage sick employees to stay home
- Urge them to wash their hands frequently with soap and water or with hand sanitizer
- Explain to employees why they should avoid touching their noses, mouths, and eyes in addition to covering their coughs and sneezes
- Keep all surfaces, telephones, computer equipment and other frequently touched surfaces and office equipment clean
- Minimize situations where groups of people are crowded all together
- Promote healthy lifestyles
Schedule your flu shot clinic now so that you – and your employees – stay protected. To learn more or to schedule your flu clinic, contact us by phone (302)757-2576 or via e-mail at Goodwin.Cobb@crozer.org.