Across the United States, businesses and households are scrambling to respond to the challenges posed by this years’ influenza outbreak. While the impact on mortality has been held in check by the advances science has made in vaccinations and post-exposure care, the financial impact may be staggering. According to the Financial Times, the burden on businesses will exceed $10B and has the potential to slow an already sputtering economy.
Extended worker absenteeism, resulting from an influenza outbreak, can adversely affect productivity, customer service, responsiveness, quality and ultimately market share. Careful planning and preparation at the executive level is of paramount importance to limit the impact of a full-blown influenza outbreak on the workforce.
How to Prepare Your Business
- Develop a written response plan. Ensure the key components are integrated into your over-arching business continuity plan (BCP), and conduct table-top exercises to test and measure the adequacy of the response.
- Identify essential employees and consider measures to ensure their services are uninterrupted. Outsourcing to a third party may ensure the necessary expertise is available.
- Identify critical processes and functions that must be preserved for your business to remain intact. Develop contingency options to address those processes.
- Evaluate critical suppliers and customers and develop a contingency plan to address the loss of their products/ services.
Flu Information for Businesses
The CDC has also prepared a page with Seasonal Flu Information for Businesses & Employers, which begins with the statement, “The single best way to prevent seasonal flu is to get a yearly flu vaccine.” Additional business-specific advice is offered by these government agencies:
- U.S. OSHA: Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for an Influenza Pandemic (PDF)
- U.S. CDC: Flu for Business
- U.S. AIHA: Reducing the Risk of Influenza Illnesses in the Workplace (PDF)
Additional Flu Resources
For additional information, visit the following websites.
- U.S. Department of Health & Human Services: Flu.gov
- U.S. CDC: Seasonal Influenza (Flu)
- World Health Organization: Influenza Update
- World Health Organization: Global Influenza Surveillance and Response System (PDF)
- Australia Department of Health and Ageing: Pandemic Influenza
Guest blogger Marc Hindman is the Chief Risk Control Officer of Willis’ Strategic Outcomes Practice, where he provides strategic direction and guidance to the property, casualty and construction risk control disciplines.