London, United Kingdom (PressExposure) October 19, 2009 -- The imminent arrival of the swine flu vaccine won't help businesses as most employees won't take it.
The long-awaited H1N1 vaccine has arrived and mass vaccinations are being prepared in the US, the UK and Europe, but will this really help businesses? The key targets to the vaccine programme are pregnant women, the young and the elderly, most of whom do not work; while those who do work are adamantly declaring in blogs, on twitter and in the press that they will not get it done. With the number of cases on a steep rise recently, the pandemic is far from over.
H1N1 is predicted to cost businesses between $1.5bn and $10bn globally* in lost work days, and the arrival of the vaccine is unlikely to change that. Most swine flu sufferers are requested to stay at home from work or school for up to 5 days, regardless of symptoms, yet many of those affected by the disease would have been capable of working for 2 out of those 5 days. The other issue of course is parents needing to take time off work to stay at home with sick children, leading to even more lost work days.
In order to deal with this problem some larger companies have been able to put home-working options in place to combat the forced time-off, but smaller companies often do not have the necessary cash flow to allow this; sadly they are also far more vulnerable when employees are out of the office as it equates to a greater percentage of their workforce.
A recent report from the UK's CIPD (Chartered Institue of Personnel and Development) states up to half of the working population could go off sick and they recommend remote working and flexible hours to prevent the spread of infection. Ben Willmott, a senior public policy advisor at the CIPD, explains that this winter could see a major resurgence of the illness.
"There is a real danger that senior management teams ignore the threat to their business posed by a second and more serious wave of swine flu after seeing the first wave subside much more quickly than anticipated," he said.**
So how do companies go about putting home-working options in place? Wayne Pope, Managing Director of Glasscubes, explains "Most businesses can set their employees up to work remotely easily and cheaply by using online applications, for example Glasscubes allows employees to share documents, calendars, tasks and discussions online securely as well as enabling free conference calls."
No one really knows where Swine flu is going to take us or how effective (or not) the vaccine might be, but we all know that during an economic recession businesses need to protect themselves as best they can.
* based on average salaries, predicted numbers of cases and number of people employed in Europe and the US