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Flu Season Could Cost Businesses Over $9B

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Flu Season Could Cost Businesses Over $9B

January 23, 2018
By Paula Bernier
Executive Editor, TMC

The flu is no picnic for employees. And it can be downright expensive for employers. New data from Challenger, Gray & Christmas suggests employers could lose more than $9 billion in productivity during this flu season.

The outplacement company based this estimate on the number of illnesses for 18-year-old and older people in the previous flu season. It considered what it said are the current employment-population rate (60.1 percent), the average hourly wage ($26.63), the typical shift (eight hours), and sick time off for the flu (four days).

While employees may be tempted to report to work despite their illness, Challenger, Gray & Christmas points out that is a mistake – both for the individuals and for their employers. Flu-stricken individuals, and those who have cared for them, can be contagious for up to seven days, it says. So if employees return during this period, they may spread the flu to others in their organization.

There are a few things business and employees can do to lessen the personal and organizational financial impact of the flu season, the company says. That includes allowing employees to work from home. Organizations may want to increase the number of shifts, so fewer people are exposed to one another at any time. They might want to limit meetings for the time being. An investment in hand sanitizer and no-touch trash cans could pay off. And, of course, they should encourage everybody to wash their hands often and avoid shaking hands with others.

Organizations may also want to train staff members to do a wider variety of tasks. That way, they’ll be ready to fill in for others who are not able to make it to work due to illness. And it could potentially position those employees with additional skills to advance their careers later on.

Edited by Mandi Nowitz

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