A business’ financial plan rarely includes the loss of 20 employees in the same department over the same week – but it should. While most people think of flat ginger ale and crackers at the brink of flu season, business owners are thinking of the risk of major profit loss should their firm fall victim to this nasty bug. Thankfully, losses can be avoided: First by preventing sickness among employees, and secondly by constructing an emergency action plan should workers or managers find themselves temporarily disabled.

Preventing flu in the workplace
Business owners can prepare their employees to prevent quick-spreading viruses, for both the well-being of their staff and for their profits. Although it is impossible for employers to insist workers get the flu vaccine, encouraging such action is a great first step towards prevention. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers a simple flyer that may be helpful to post in bathrooms and other common areas around the workplace. In addition, holding an informative meeting at the start of winter will ensure influenza is addressed directly to employees.

Utilizing technology can also decrease the spread of flu in the workplace. As Travelers Insurance’s casualty services risk control vice president Nim Traeger notes, managing sickness within a business can be a matter of workplace cleanliness.

“The flu virus can survive on surfaces for several hours, so it’s important to take precautions and keep common areas clean,” he said, according to Entrepreneur.

Traeger insists it is in any company’s best interest to allow work-from-home days should the employee be infected but able to continue her job.

Dealing with It
Should the flu enter the workplace, there are basic measures business owners should take. The best case scenario is that workers stay home if contagious. Managers control this option, so it is encouraged they educate themselves as best as possible on allowing remote work.

In the case of the business owner or manager coming down with the flu, operations at the office can become complicated. Therefore, it is important the owner and high-ranking managers identify their right-hand men or women. These individuals would ideally be persons of equal rank, just below, or – in a very small or sole proprietor business setting – a trustworthy colleague.

Flu season is a pain for anyone affected, but if businesses can plan for its nearly inevitable strike, profits and office morale can remain consistent through the *cough* cold.