The "Twindemic" - Managing Flu Season amid the Pandemic
Specific measures that you can implement to keep your workforce safe
For approximately the past year and a half, we’ve been battling COVID-19, the worst pandemic of our lifetimes to date. Business owners and HR managers everywhere have had to adapt their business practices at a rapid pace, and in some instances, basically start from square one to stay afloat. Now, we face the added challenge of the “twindemic,” the combination of threats from flu season coming about in addition to this current surge of COVID-19, more specifically, the Delta Variant.
It can be easy to forget about other illnesses since the pandemic definitely takes the spotlight for itself. The flu is definitely still a big threat to look out for amid the pandemic, so make sure that your organization is keeping it on your radar in addition to the coronavirus.
What does this mean for businesses? This double-team of biological threats imposes the already emphasized need for safety and vigilance. The positive, however, is that many of the measures that we already have in place for the prevention of COVID transmission are highly likely to be effective for preventing flu transmission as well. According to USAToday, flu numbers during the 2020-2012 optimal flu season were at an all time low, a direct result of the measures we were taking to prevent the spread of COVID. The key is simply making sure that your team is actively following and enforcing these policies. That being said, what are some specific measures that you can implement into your workplace to provide the safest working environment possible? Let’s take a look.
Enforce proper and adequate social distancing in the office, as well as physical barriers in high-traffic areas.
Encourage employees to keep their masks on, especially when interacting with other employees.
Encourage regular hand washing during the day.
Add hand sanitizer dispensers throughout your office and sanitize surfaces regularly, especially in high traffic areas. Check out this option from Home Depot! It’s a pack of 9 dispenser stands that comes with 4 1-gallon containers of hand sanitizer. This option goes for $569.95.
Many businesses are encouraging and even mandating vaccines for COVID-19. Consider doing the same for flu shots, and make them accessible by having a flu shot/vaccine clinic on site. The last thing you want is for mere inconvenience to be the reason that someone decides not to take a potentially life-saving step.
Understand that it is possible to be infected with both the flu and the coronavirus at the same time, and understand the gravity of this combination’s potential implications. Again, strongly encourage proper social distancing, mask-wearing, and vaccinations. If you have the authority to mandate these measures, please consider doing so.
Accept that you will have to be a bit more flexible with your employees. During flu season, there will be two major viruses to look out for. Prepare for a higher number of absences within your team. If any of your employees fall ill due to either one or both of these viruses, make sure that you have the internal infrastructure to not only account for their absences, but to support them in their time of need as well.
Be empathetic about any general reservations your employees may have about returning to in-person work at all. We are in extremely uncertain times, and the added stress from flu season and the Delta Variant is not making things much better. Check out our blog on When Employees Are Afraid to Return to Work for more advice on handling this.
Here at GoCo, our priority is each other’s safety and well being. That priority requires effort and education about what is currently happening in the world around us, as well as the implementation of all of the suggestions we have made above. Remember, we are not out of the woods yet and we have to have each other’s backs. Think about implementing some or all of these suggestions into your workspace and let your employees know that you have theirs.