Business and Pandemic Influenza

The following information is from the Trust for America's Health brochure "It's Not Flu as Usual: What Businesses need to know about pandemic flu planning."
Imagine that ten percent of your employees are too sick to come to work on any given day.  Imagine that cumulatively, a quarter of your workforce could be out for as many as three to four months.  Imagine that the other businesses you rely on are facing the same massive absentee rates.
Hard as it may be to believe, such a scenarios could happen - indeed, some health officials say it's inevitable.  The cause:  Pandemic Influenza.
Here are 10 step you can take now to maintain business continuity.  Keep in mind that many strategies take time to implement.
  1. Check that existing contingency plans are applicable to a pandemic.
  2. In particular, check to see that core business activities can be sustained over several weeks.
  3. Plan accordingly for interruptions of essential government services like sanitation, water, power and disruptions to the food supply.
  4. Identify your company's essential functions and the individuals who perform them.  The absence of these individuals could seriously impair business continuity.  Build in the training redundancy necessary to ensure that their work can be done in the event of an absentee rate of 25-30 percent.
  5. Maintain a health work environment by ensuring adequate air circulation and posting tips on how to stop the spread of germs at work.  Promote hand and respiratory hygiene.  Ensure wide and easy availability of alcohol-based hand sanitizer products.
  6. Determine which outside activities are critical to maintaining operations and develop alternatives in case they cannot function normally.  For example, what transportation systems are needed to provide essential materials?  Does the business operate on "just in time" inventory or is there typically some reserve?
  7. Establish or expand policies and tools that enable employees to work from home with appropriate security and network access to applications.
  8. Expand online and self-service options for customers and business partners.
  9. Tell the workforce about the threat of pandemic flu and the steps the company is taking to prepare for it.  In emergencies, employees demonstrate an increased tendency to listen to their employer, so clear and frequent communication is essential.
  10. Update sick leave and family and medical leave policies and communicate with employees about the importance of staying away from the workplace if they become ill.  Concern about lost wages is the largest deterrent to self-quarantine and isolation.