As a business owner, why should I care about the Flu?
Imagine if your business lost 30% or more of its staff for at least one week. Imagine if you didn’t have the manpower to fulfill a major order on time.
- How much would this cost your business?
- Do you have a plan to address this?
- Can you provide your customers any assurance/comfort that your business won’t experience significant losses of production/operation?
Imagine if a competitor experienced significant downtimes in their business.
- Are you prepared to capitalize on their losses?
Each winter, the seasonal flu kills approximately 36,000 Americans, hospitalizes more than 200,000, and costs the U.S. economy more than $10 billion in lost productivity and direct medical expenses. This flu season in not expected to kill off millions of people or make entire cities shut down completely. But with the flu seasons in recent history like the one including H1N1 virus (swine flu), the chances of you or your staff contracting at least one form of the flu is greater than previous years. Learn how to avoid letting the next flu season significantly impact your business.
How can I help my staff avoid the flu?
Find up-to-date, reliable flu information from community public health, emergency management, and other sources. Encourage all employees to get flu shots. If they are not covered under your health insurance plan (or you do not provide coverage) consider subsidizing the cost of immunization. It could save you money in the long run.
How can I keep my business running smoothly during flu season?
- Identify a coordinator and/or team with defined roles and responsibilities for preparedness and response planning.
- Establish an emergency communications plan and revise periodically. This plan includes identification of key contacts (with back-ups), chain of communications (including suppliers and customers), and processes for tracking and communicating business and employee status. The SBTDC can help you design a plan.
- Identify essential employees and other critical inputs (e.g. raw materials, suppliers, sub-contractor services/ products, and logistics) required to maintain business operations by location and function.
- Re-examine current sick and work-from-home policies. Try to discourage people who may be developing symptoms from coming to work if possible.
- Train and prepare ancillary workforce (e.g. contractors, employees in other job titles/descriptions, retirees).
- Implement an exercise/drill to test your plan, and revise periodically.
How can I plan for the financial implications of a flu outbreak?
- Determine potential impact of a major flu outbreak on company business financials using multiple possible scenarios that affect different product lines and/or production sites.
- Develop and plan for scenarios likely to result in an increase or decrease in demand for your products and/or services during an outbreak (e.g. effect of restriction on mass gatherings, need for hygiene supplies).
- Determine potential impact on business-related domestic and international travel (e.g. quarantines, border closures).
For information and planning materials check out the link at: http://pandemicflu.gov/professional/business/smallbiz.html
One-stop shop for U.S. government information on H1N1 and seasonal flu; this comprehensive site has links to each state’s pandemic flu plan, guidelines for individuals, families, schools, businesses and more.
Updated federal guidance for businesses for the fall flu season
NC Department of Health and Human Services and the NC Public Health website of North Carolina seasonal and pandemic flu planning information and resources.
U.S. Chamber of Commerce webpage with updates, information and additional links related to pandemic flu and businesses
Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) employee safety and health guidance for a pandemic
World Health Organization Health Topics: Influenza
HHS/CDC online business planning checklist
Department of Homeland Security, CDC and the SBA guidance for small business pandemic planning
How do I get started?
The SBTDC is there to help you make your business better. Contact us today to learn how we can serve you.