Flu Season is Here (for Program Planners)
Written by Toni Sperlbaum
While flu season doesn’t technically start until October, one thing with wellness programming is that we’re ALWAYS looking ahead! Everyone has a different opinion on vaccinations, but according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), influenza is a serious disease that can lead to hospitalization and sometimes even death. Not only that, but you’re looking at higher absenteeism during this time and lower productivity. The flu is very contagious – most healthy adults may be able to infect other people beginning 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 5-7 days after becoming sick.
Here are some basic and more involved things you can do to prevent the flu from taking over your workplace:
“Wash Hands” signs. Everywhere. If they’re already in your workplace bathrooms, add more right at eye level on the door.
Place hand sanitizer in break rooms, in conference rooms, near every exit (and entrance) of the building.
Host a lunch & learn on illness prevention
Make sure employees know your policies on sick time and encourage them to not come to work sick
Over-communicate that your health plan covers flu shots at 100% as a preventative. Some employees think it’s going to cost them money to get a flu shot, not realizing it is covered under their plan. What a simple fix!
Offer onsite flu vaccinations through your vendor (HPA offers these, too!). Here is where the planning ahead comes in. You’ll need to start scheduling these now in order to coordinate the details of bringing a flu clinic to your workplace, especially if you’re larger or have multiple locations. Many of us vendors have the capabilities to bill insurance directly for your employees OR can direct invoice your company, whichever you prefer (or a mixture of both).
Offer educational materials such as “How do I know if I have the flu?” “What are the emergency warning signs of the flu?” “How long should I stay home while I’m sick?” These serves as a little bit of self care, preventing people from using the emergency room if they don’t have to, but also making sure they understand the warning signs in case there IS an emergency.
Plan ahead on this one and make sure you have as many of the above items as necessary to prevent the flu from knocking down your workforce!