National Flu Outbreak Widens—Are You Prepared?

Checklist helps CUs prepare for and respond to one of the worst flu seasons in years.

January 22, 2013
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Each flu season, nearly 111 million workdays are lost due to the flu. And this year's national flu epidemic is getting worse by the day.

Last Wednesday, for example, Boston declared a public health emergency after the virus claimed the lives of more than a dozen people, according to Agility Recovery, a CUNA Strategic Services alliance provider.

This year's flu season is expected to be one of the worst the country has seen in 10 years. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 41 states report widespread cases.

Agility offers a “seasonal influenza checklist” to help credit unions prepare for and respond to a serious flu outbreak:

►Establish a pandemic emergency team that cuts across all departments. Give each team member specific tasks and ensure that at least two people are fully knowledgeable of every responsibility.

Sample tasks include educating employees about the flu, establishing attendance guidelines, communicating with employees and members, developing an assignment sheet of who covers whom during an absence, and researching health coverage and screenings available to employees.

Identify who can work from home, and determine the process for conducting business at home.

Crosstrain employees, supervisors, and managers to cover other departments and geographic locations.

Make a priority list of every company location and the distance between them in case someone has to come in from another location. Include directions to get from one location to the next.

Develop a relationship with your local temporary personnel agencies for fill‐in employees as needed.

Evaluate and update your human resource, sick leave, and insurance policies.

Have team members sign up for alerts and timely announcements from state and local health departments, as well as from the national Centers for Disease Control.

Establish an alert notification system to communicate your policies, plans, decisions, and news updates to your employees, members, volunteers, and vendors.

Hold meetings and ‘run‐throughs’ to ensure that pandemic team members and employees understand what’s required of them in an emergency.

Prepare the workplace. Encourage employees to get flu vaccines and, if possible, offer vaccines free of charge or for a nominal fee onsite. Provide hand sanitizers in heavily trafficked areas, and clean all public‐area surfaces with germ‐killing solutions.

Other suggestions from Agility:

Consider replacing in-person business meetings with teleconferencing. If possible, allow employees to work from home.

VP-Business Continuity

Ken Schroeder, MBCP, MBCI
January 17, 2013 9:52 am
Great Information, however I'd present it in a more personal way: There is a lot of discussion (especially on the 24 hr news channels) about the current flu epidemic. I’ve collected some information that you might find helpful, along with some suggestions for our individual preparation and security. First of all, we are not in a flu pandemic. Let’s get that out of the way right now. We are in the middle of an unusually strong seasonal flu event. The CDC website emphasizes this, and provides this table to help you understand what the differences. http://www.flu.gov/pandemic/about/index.html# With this in mind, here are a couple of points to consider when you are listening to the news. · As the table points out, even the annual flu season has fatalities, usually involving those with weakened immune systems, such as small children (a child’s death in Ohio was just recently announced), and old curmudgeons like myself. · This year’s seasonal flu is highlighted with the variant known as H3N2 which is also designate as Type A. This variant is the cause of the most severe symptoms. The H1N1, aka “swine flu” is also present. This year’s flu vaccine provides protection for both. GET YOUR FLU SHOT. · Anti-virals are not the be-all to end-all. They help, but there are indications of resistance, especially in the H1N1 and H3N2 varieties. · Prevention is the best cure. TIP: Here are three most important things everyone should do for prevention: 1. Wash your hands. 2. Wash your hands. 3. Wash your hands. · Hand sanitizers, while effective, do not offer as much protection as hand washing. · Avoid hand to eye-nose-mouth contact. That is how the virus enters the body. We are in a seasonal flu event, not a pandemic. I'd reserve discussion on preparations for that for another time. IMHO! -- Ken

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Great article! Unfortunately, most employees don’t feel valued or appreciated by their supervisors or employers. In fact, research has shown that the predominant reason team members quit their jobs is because they don’t feel valued. This is in spite of the fact that employee recognition programs have proliferated in the workplace – over 90% of all organizations in the U.S. has some form of employee recognition activities in place. But most employee recognition programs are viewed with skepticism and cynicism – because they aren’t viewed as being genuine in their communication of appreciation. Getting the “employee of the month” award, receiving a certificate of recognition, or a “Way to go, team!” email just don’t get the job done. How do you communicate authentic appreciation? We have found people have different ways that they want to be shown appreciation, and if you don’t communicate in the language of appreciation important to them, you essentially “miss the mark”. Additionally, employees need to receive recognition more than once a year at their performance review. Otherwise, they view the praise as “going through the motions”. A third component of authentic appreciation is that the communication has to be about them personally – not the department, not their group, but something they did. Finally, they have to believe that you mean what you say. How you treat them has to match the words you use. If you are not sure how your team members want to be shown appreciation, the Motivating By Appreciation Inventory (www.appreciationatwork.com/assess) will identify the language of appreciation and specific actions preferred by each employee. You then can create a group profile for your team, so everyone knows how to encourage one another. Remember, employees want to know that they are valued for what they contribute to the success of the organization. And communicating authentic appreciation in the ways they desire it can make the difference between keeping your quality team members or having a negative work environment that everyone wants to leave. Paul White, Ph.D., is the co-author of The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace with Dr. Gary Chapman.

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