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December 2, 2010

Make sure you’re prepared for winter coughs and colds

It happens every year, and yet as employers we are often caught out by a bout of flu that plagues our people, and runs its course for up to three weeks, moving from person to person, leaving half your team at home in bed.

While to some extent there is little you can do to prevent having staff absent due to illness, it does pay to have a clear policy and strategy for managing a particulrly virulent strain of winter bug.

  • Make it clear what your policy is in on whether people who aren’t well should be in work, you need to get that balance¬† between those who can work, and those who would be better at home.
  • If the bug is proving to be particualry infectious can your people work from home for a couple of days? In small offices the effects of a strong bout of flu can have a real impact on your ability to function as a business. But it needs to be clear that as an employer you’d prefer someone not to come in if they are infectious.
  • Ensure everyone has access to each other’s work and emails (withing reason) in case someone is unexpectedly off for over a week, while in the middle of a project. It’s good business practice, but there should never be only person who can do any given job for this exact reason.
  • Manage the expectations of your clients – things may take longer, you may have to change deadlines or timings,¬† you might need to cancel meetings and suggest alternative options. they’ll need to know this. And they’ll need to know why.
  • Keep in contact with absent employees and plan with them for their return to work.
  • Fit notes are now issued from doctors, as opposed to sick notes, they are designed to get people back to work, rather than confirm they should be off. Use them to stagger and manage an employee’s return to work. Can they do half days, work from home, undertake easier tasks first?

Take the time to remind your people about the basic steps they can take to prevent bugs spreading – it seems simple, but it helps.

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