Flu season isn't coming...it's here. And it's here with a vengeance. 2017 has been one of the worst flu seasons on record, with one in 217 Australians coming down with the virus, according to News.com.au.
This might just seem like an unfortunate side effect of winter, but this epidemic has had a bigger impact on Australia's economy than you'd initially suspect.
With July, August and September being the worst months of the year in terms of sickness, we're still in the midst of high season. How is productivity impacted by the flu, and what can employers do to keep their businesses running smoothly during winter?
The potential business impact [of flu] in terms of lost staff hours and sales is huge.
The flu and productivity in the workplace
As the flu spreads, employees begin to drop like flies, leaving businesses understaffed. Financial comparison website Finder has looked at the data and concluded that a whopping $90 million in labour productivity has been lost this winter. August alone comprises more than half of that amount, at nearly $48 million. Bessie Hassan from Finder claims that the flu can be detrimental to businesses, particularly small ones.
"The potential business impact in terms of lost staff hours and sales is huge, particularly for small businesses who don't have enough resources or can't afford to employ temporary staff at short notice."
With that in mind, it's important for employers to look at ways they can keep their employees healthy, as well as methods for keeping productivity high when staff are out sick.
Letting a sick employee stay at work could cost you in the long run.
How can my business maintain productivity?
It might seem counterintuitive if you're trying to retain as many staff as possible, but the best thing to do if someone seems ill is send them home, according to Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA). This lowers the chances of them spreading the illness to the rest of your employees and allows them to hopefully recover and be back on the job sooner. In some cases, the employee might even be able to work from home while they're getting better.
Preventative measures are also a good idea - some companies offer wellness programmes, or to pay for their employees to be vaccinated against the flu. If you do find yourself with a staff shortage and plummeting productivity, it might make sense to hire temp workers or even look at bringing on more employees.
Winter might be here, but that doesn't mean the flu has to destroy your business. For more productivity tips, check out Reo's blog!