The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is out with new guidelines for dealing with the H1N1 "swine" flu this fall, and the news is grim.
Imagine that ten percent of your employees are too sick to come to work on any given day. Imagine that cumulatively, 40 percent of your workforce could be absent for as many as three to four months. Imagine that the other businesses you rely on are facing the same massive absentee rates.
Imagine there's no workers, it isn't hard to do. No trains, no subways. And no suppliers, too.
Even though death rates from this flu are not much worse than with seasonal flu (so far) and even though vaccines are on the way, the government's key takeaway is repeated here. If you feel sick, stay home.
Here are shorter versions of the Chamber guidelines:
- Check your business continuity plan. How many people do you really need to keep going?
- Cross-train your people. Have redundancy when key people are gone.
- The government might fail. If they close the mass transit system, plan car pools now.
- Check your supply chain. A little extra inventory might not hurt if a supplier goes down.
- Update your leave policies. Employees can't be afraid of firing if they feel sick this fall.
- Plan for telecommuting. Just because they're sick doesn't mean they're useless.
- Check in with the health authorities. Knowing what hospitals and your insurance will do is vital.
- Communicate with employees. Make them wash their hands and cover their coughs.
- Keep them in the loop. Tell your employees what you're up to or they will worry.
- Don't just take our word for it. The government is here to help.
The latest WHO death toll on this flu is 3,486, up 281 from a week ago. The vast majority of deaths are still in the Americas. And the WHO folks don't call it "swine" flu anymore.