Whatever you call it — H1N1, Swine Flu — the illness du jour is definitely a distraction to your entire workforce.
From fears of the coughing co-worker in the next cubicle to heated debates over whether or not to vaccinate, everyone has the flu on the brain these days.
So how can you keep the panic to a minimum and maximize productivity?
- Communicate your contingency plans. People have to be wondering what your company has planned should this turn into a full-blown pandemic. Assuming your company has a plan, it’s time to make sure all your workers are in on it.
- Educate employees. An informed workforce is a less jumpy workforce. Try an info blitz on H1N1. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has a Web page devoted to the virus. Your state health department also has info. You could even bring in a doctor to debunk myths.
- Encourage short breaks. When employees are stretched too thin, their immune systems can get run down — increasing their chances of getting sick. Keep an eye out for staffers who look stressed or overworked, and encourage them to take a break.
- Know the law. What’s worse than having employees out sick? Getting hit with a labor law violation because of your policies about sick workers run afoul of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Here is a list of guidelines that’ll help make sure your policies are OK with Uncle Sam.