Businesses Urged to Take Action to Lessen Impact of Swine Flu

maskAs the number of suspected and confirmed swine flu cases continues to rise, business owners and managers are being urged to consider operation changes to decrease the impact of an outbreak on their business.

Government officials are offering resources including a business checklist to help entrepreneurs prepare for the impact of swine flu.  Click here for the checklist from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Department of Health and Human Resources.

One workplace advisor is urging business owners to check out the precautions and consider controlling the risk of the flu by looking at ways to change workplace operations.  John Challenger, chief executive officer of global outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc., says businesses may consider changes including include the implementation of companywide telecommuting, increased video conferencing, social distancing and strict personal hygiene policies.

“The worry is that the business community will be slow to prepare for a widespread outbreak.  For many, the cost of proactive measures is too high for something that may not escalate to pandemic proportions,” said Challenger.  “Many may find out the hard way that not preparing could be far more costly.  Employers will be on the frontline of any outbreak, since business travel and workplaces are major factors in the spread of any virus.  In the case of swine flu, Mexico, which is where the outbreak began and has been most deadly, is one of our primary trading partners,” said Challenger.

Workplace preparations to fend off swine flu may include measures to decrease presenteeism and require employees to wear face masks in the workplace according to Challenger:

“The best solution, however, may be switching to a predominantly telecommuting workforce.  Any employee who can do his or her work from home with a computer and phone should be doing so prior to an outbreak.  This will help prevent a flu virus from spreading among co-workers,” said Challenger.   “Companies might also provide or subsidize flu shots or Tamiflu, which has been shown to be effective in treating swine flu if taken within 48 hours of contraction,” Challenger added.

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