Small Business Planning for H1N1

The Small Business Administration recently published “Planning for 2009 H1N1 Influenza Season Preparedness Guide for Small Business.”
Here are seven H1N1 preparedness steps that the government recommends you review and apply as appropriate to your place of business:
  1. Identify a Workplace Coordinator -This person would be the single point of contact for all issues relating to H1N1 and be responsible for reaching out to community health providers and implementing protocols for dealing with ill employees – in advance of any outbreak or impact on the business.
  2. Examine Policies for Leave, Telework and Employee Compensation – Obviously this will vary by business, but the emphasis here is on refreshing yourself and your employees about what your company’s health care plans cover in the event of sick leave as a result of H1N1. You should also re-evaluate leave policies to ensure a flexible non-punitive plan that allows for impacted individuals to stay at home. Employees may also need to stay at home to care for sick children or telework in the event of school closures – so be prepared for this by implementing appropriate teleworking infrastructures in advance.
  3. Determine who will be Responsible for Assisting – Appoint an individual or individuals who will be on-hand to assist ill personnel at your workplace – essentially a “go-to” person, who may be the same as the person chosen as your workplace coordinator.
  4. Identify Essential Employees, Essential Business Functions, and Other Critical Inputs – Make plans to maintain communication and ensure clear work direction with critical personnel and vendors (and even customers) in the event that the supply chain is broken or other unpredictable disruptions occur.
  5. Share your Pandemic Plans with Employees and Clearly Communicate Expectations – Consider posting a bi-lingual version of your preparedness plan, leave information, health tips, and other H1N1 awareness resources across all your work locations and online if you operate an Intranet.
  6. Prepare Business Continuity Plans – Absenteeism or other work place changes need to be addressed early on so you can maintain business operations. Get tips on common sense measures your business can take from Business.gov here.
  7. Establish an Emergency Communication Plan – Hopefully your business already has some form of emergency communication plan. If not, document your key business contacts (with back-ups), the chain of communications (including suppliers and customers), and processes for tracking and communicating business and employee status.

Managing Swine Flu in the Workplace

RSJ/Swenson has prepared a special report on managing swine flu in the workplace.

Click here to receive your free copy.

Workplace Wellness Programs


Even in this down economy, workplace wellness programs are on the increase. The advantages are numerous – lower health care costs; increased attendance and improved morale.

Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) are also an inexpensive way to obtain these advantages – and in some cases, spouses and dependents can participate as well.

Wellness programs also increase the attractiveness of an employer. Companies with wellness programs that touch on the physical and emotional needs of staff and their families show the employer’s interest in keeping everyone healthy, and keeping them happy.

Courtesy East Indiana Star Press.

Wellness Programs Benefits for Small Businesses

You don’t need an expensive wellness plan to develop a healthier workforce.

Think about what’s in your breakroom: bagels, donuts, chips, and sodas?

How about fresh fruit and other low-fat snacks?

The American Heart Association offers a free walking program for employers.

What are the benefits?

  • increased employee morale
  • lower absenteeism and
  • potentially reduced health-care costs

Find out what your employees would like – if you deliver on their needs, the benefits will ultimately be both yours and theirs.

Via Chicago Tribune.

Weight Discrimination in America

According to the journal Obesity, weight discrimination is now as common as racial discrimination in US workplaces.

About 17% of men and 9% of women have reported race discrimination; and about 12% of all adults have now reported weight discrimination.

Yet no federal or state law exists that prohibits weight discrimination (for now, at least). The cities of San Francisco and Washington D.C. prohibit weight discrimination.

Discrimination involves health care, education or workplace situations, such as cases in which people said they were fired, denied a job or a promotion because of their weight.

Even though no law currently exists to prohibit this discrimination, why test it? It’s extremely expensive to litigate – even when you believe you’re right.

Do not make a workplace decision that takes weight into consideration. Use unbiased decision-making that is the best decision for your business.

Thanks to USA Today.

Obesity Costs Employers $165 Billion

The problem with obesity in America has begun to financially affect the workplace.

A new report from Health Media, Inc. indicates that obesity costs employers $165 Billion in medical care and lost productivity.

Since it is illegal to take any action against an employee or job candidate because of their weight, employers are faced with a dilemma: what to do about it?

Many Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) have a wellness component, in which affected employees can participate at little or no cost in weight loss and related courses.

Of course, many employers do not participate in EAPs, primarily because of cost reasons.

Yet some studies indicate that offering EAPs may result in various benefits for employers, including lower medical costs, reduced turnover and absenteeism, and higher employee productivity and morale.

And if your business is sharing in the $165 Billion, an investment in an EAP may be the cheapest medicine of all.

You can check out EAPs through the Employee Assistance Professionals Association.