Businesses can plan ahead to minimize disruptions during a flu crisis, says the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. It offer 10 tips to decrease the spread of the illness and maintain business continuity, says Finance and Commerce:
1. Update sick leave and family and medical leave policies and communicate with employees about staying away from the workplace if they are ill.
2. Maintain a healthy work environment: Ensure adequate air circulation, post tips on how to stop the spread of germs at work, promote hand and respiratory hygiene, and ensure widespread and easy availability of alcohol-based hand sanitizer products.
3. Establish an emergency communications plan and revise it periodically, including key contacts (with backups), as well as the processes for communicating pandemic status and actions to employees, vendors, suppliers and customers.
4. Identify your company’s essential functions, including accounting, payroll and information technology and the individuals who perform them. Cross-train employees to perform essential functions.
5. Plan for interruptions of essential government services, including sanitation, water, power and transportation or disruptions to the food supply.
6. Determine which outside activities are critical to maintaining operations and develop alternatives.
7. Establish or expand policies and tools to promote “social distancing,” such as reducing the number of face-to-face meetings and allowing employees to telecommute.
8. Make sure existing business contingency plans address long-term absenteeism rates. In particular, check to see whether core business activities can be sustained over several weeks with only a minimal work force available.
9. Collaborate with insurers, health plans and major health care facilities to share your pandemic contingency plans and learn about their capabilities and plans.
10. Educate employees now and during the course of a pandemic to limit the negative effects of H1N1 among the work force. Tell employees about the threat of a more severe wave of the H1N1 flu virus and about the steps the company is taking to prepare for it.