Whether it's the cold and wet weather that weakens our immune systems, or it's the fact that we're constantly hugging and sharing food and drinks with others, or maybe because those welcoming, professional handshakes are carrying more than just sweat these days, this time of year is a breeding ground for catching the strain of crud de jour. I've seen an increasing number of Facebook statuses mentioning how bad this year's strain of the flu is, and there are quite a few of us out there who weren't in tip top shape to begin with. When a nasty strain of the flu hits someone like that, it doesn't matter how much orange juice you drink, you're going to be out from work for a while. Of course, that's after you infect the rest of your team.
Part of the problem is that due to the poor economy, 50 million people don't have insurance. In fact, according to Kaiser Health News , the number of people covered by employer-sponsored coverage dropped to 55.8 percent last year from 58.5 percent in 2008. On top of that, those with health coverage are skipping the little procedures and cutting costs where they can. And despite the CDC advising that each and every American should get one, an easy choice of those little costs for people to skip is a flu shot. Like having a plastic prize at the bottom of the cereal box, the CDC reports that this year's shot is even laced with protection from the 2009 strain of H1N1. You know things are getting pretty bad when they have to up the marketing on VACCINES.
So what can you do about it? Well, here's an idea that not only will help keep your team healthy this year, but also eliminate some sick days and general malaise from your staff, while making them feel appreciated: buy them their flu shots this year. Whether you chose to have someone come in and do your flu shots on site (which, if you can get the cost reduced for your residents is an awesome resident retention service to offer!), or you choose to buy the Walgreens gift card of $30 that is specifically earmarked for a flu shot, you're telling your staff that you care about their health at the same time you're thanking them for their hard work. And if you think $30 per staff member is a lot of spend, let me ask you to consider exactly how much you've built in to your budget for this year's loss of productivity, staffing costs, and lost rentals because you were understaffed or had to use a temp while your rockstar team was out sick. Costs for a well trained and qualified temp in some places can hit $35 to $45 dollars - PER HOUR. For less than the cost of an hour of temp work, you can protect the people you prize: Your Trained Team.
So I guess the only real question is how can you NOT afford to get your team the flu shot this year?