Every year, typically summer through fall, millions of children across the U.S. catch enteroviruses that can cause coughing, sneezing, fever and other flu-like symptoms. And, every year, millions of working mothers, fathers and other caregivers must take time off to tend to those who become ill. It goes with the territory.
This year is no exception as the current strain, Enterovirus D68 (EV-D68), continues to spread across the country and make news in the headlines.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) believes the U.S. is currently experiencing a nationwide outbreak, with 825 confirmed cases in 46 states and the District of Columbia, from mid-August to October 17th. Some involve unexplained neurological symptoms, including paralysis, causing even greater concern.
Experts agree infants, children and teenagers are the most susceptible to enteroviruses, but they’re clearly not the only ones affected. Businesses may also suffer, physically and financially, as they experience higher than normal employee absenteeism during this particular time of year.
According to Circadian Technologies, a workforce solution company who published the white paper, Absenteeism: The Bottom-Line Killer, employee absenteeism costs roughly $3,600 per year for each hourly worker and $2,650 each year for salaried employees. Attributed to these costs are wages for absent and replacement workers, and additional administrative expenses.
Other indirect costs and effects of employee absenteeism include:
– Poor quality of goods and services
– Reduced productivity
– Safety issues, as other, perhaps inadequately trained workers, must fill in
– Poor morale among those who must do extra work
While having a sick or personal leave policy is standard operating procedure for most companies, communicating it, along with ways to prevent the spread of illness, is another.
If your organization has not done so already, consider the use of an emergency notification service to alert employees of potential risks, work-at-home policies and all-important precautionary measures.
As a best practice, remind employees to wash their hands often (with soap and water and for at least 20 seconds); avoid close contact (particularly with those who show symptoms); clean/disinfect frequently touched surfaces, e.g., keyboards and cell phones; and remain home if running a fever in order to avoid spreading the infection.
Also, use inbound message boards to provide status updates so everyone can access the latest information during a public health or other business continuity threat.
Enteroviruses, though obviously overshadowed by Ebola in the U.S., are a real concern for our children, the medical community, and the workplace. Make communication a top priority to keep your staff (and their families) healthy, your operations intact and your costs down. And, remember, an ounce of prevention really is worth a pound of cure. Be well! _