11/7/2012 10:55:00 AM by SOI
The influenza or “flu” season occurs annually, officially spanning from October through March. Hundreds of thousands of people are affected in the U.S., typically more than 200,000 are hospitalized and some 36,000 people die from the flu. Flu takes its toll among employers, resulting in lost time, disruption and lost money. Flu accounts for millions of lost workdays per year and some $7 billion in cost. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 20% of people catch the flu during this season. As employee- and employer-oriented providers, professional employer organizations (PEOs) offer organizations employee benefits management services aimed at education, prevention, treatment and effective response.
“Recognizing, responding to and dealing with the flu through preventative measures has major impact on adult health and work productivity. According to the US Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), each $1 employers invest in vaccinations results in approximately $3.27 saved in medical costs and $2.75 saved in absenteeism costs,” notes Raymond A. Parker, SPHR, Senior Vice President – Human Resource Consulting for SOI, a Trinet company and leader among PEOs. “One component of employee benefits management services is coordination of flu vaccinations. Studies show that for a healthy and vaccinated adult workforce, employers can realize a 25% decrease in upper respiratory infections, 43% decrease in flu-related absenteeism and 44% decrease in time spent going to the doctor. The bottom line benefit with flu vaccinations is approximately $46.50 saved in medical costs and absenteeism per vaccinated employee.”
PEOs assist employers in taking actions related to flu prevention. Coordinating education and/or providing basic information on preventing the flu can be the first line of defense for an employer. This includes: 1) emphasizing the basic rules of correct hand washing with soap and water to prevent the spread of germs, 2) reinforcing how to properly sneeze, i.e., into your elbow or arm rather than your hands, and 3) establishing basic “practical suggestions” for flu-stricken employees’ return to work. PEOs can assist employers with communications related to the importance of flu vaccinations. A communications campaign becomes crucial in the current economic environment where employees are reluctant to stay home when ill, out of fear of lost wages or potential loss of their jobs. And finally, PEOs can work with company management to implement a timely and efficient organization-wide flu vaccination program to avoid the potential losses due to the spread of flu among the company’s workforce, as well as a follow-up study to determine the impact of the vaccination program on workforce productivity and company savings. Flu education, communication and immunization programs are a win-win scenario. The worker has fewer illnesses, fewer days of illness and possibly lost wages; the employer has improved worker productivity and direct cost savings.
The CDC has an information Web Center specifically for businesses and employers at www.cdc.gov/flu/business. For more information and PEO assistance with setting up a communication campaign or vaccination program for the flu, contact SOI.
SOI, a Trinet company, is a leading professional employer organization (PEO) for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) serving as a trusted partner in integrated human resource (HR) compliance, risk management, employee benefits, employment practices liability insurance (EPLI), and payroll processing. SOI is based in Charlotte, NC and supports tens of thousands of worksite employees throughout the U.S. For more details, visit www.soi.com.