Preparing for Flu Season During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Each year, the seasonal flu has a marked impact on businesses and employers, causing increased absenteeism, decreased productivity and higher health care costs. Unfortunately, the 2020-21 flu season isn’t the only health crisis employers and employees have to address this year. The COVID-19 pandemic is still affecting the workforce, and the combination of another potentially bad flu season and the pandemic has public health experts worried.
There are a variety of steps employers can take to protect employees and prepare for flu season—which may include steps you’ve taken in response to COVID-19—regardless of whether employees are in the office or working remotely.
Here are some strategies to consider:
- Host an on-site, socially distanced vaccination clinic—One of the most important steps for preventing the flu is to get an annual flu vaccination. Hosting an on-site flu vaccination clinic can help educate employees about the importance of vaccination and make it easier for them to get vaccinated.
- Encourage employees to get the flu vaccine—If you choose not to or are unable to provide an on-site flu vaccination clinic, you can still emphasize the importance of vaccination to your employees and educate them about local opportunities to get vaccinated.
- Disinfect and clean the office—Because the flu virus and the virus that causes COVID-19 can remain on surfaces long after they’ve been touched, it’s important that your business frequently cleans and disinfects the facility.
- Implement and enforce social distancing protocols—Social distancing is the practice of deliberately increasing the physical space between people to avoid spreading illness.
- Promote respiratory etiquette and hand hygiene—Businesses should encourage good hygiene to prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses like the flu and COVID-19. This can involve:
- Reminding employees to wash their hands often with soap and warm water
- Placing hand sanitizers in multiple locations to encourage hand hygiene
- Reminding employees to not touch their eyes, nose or mouth
- Asking employees to wear a mask or face covering when social distancing is not possible
- Encourage employees to stay home when sick—Ask employees to err on the side of caution if they’re not feeling well, and stay home when they’re sick or are exhibiting common symptoms of COVID-19 or the flu.
These strategies may not be right for every organization. Depending on the nature of your business, you may need to implement additional prevention strategies. Take action today to prepare your business for flu season during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Additional articles from the October 2020 edition of the Univest Employee Benefits Newsletter:
- Supreme Court Vacancy May Affect ACA Litigation
- Remote Verification of Form I-9 Documents Extended to Nov. 19
- Five Steps to Successful Employee Communication
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