British businesses are taking the cold very seriously as firms have seen a 353% rise over the past five years, according to Bupa. The health insurance company has revealed that more and more bosses are providing their employees with flu jab vouchers as part of their corporate health and benefits packages to boost productivity, reduce sick days and potentially save millions in lost revenue.
The news comes as hospitals across the country are preparing themselves for one of the worst flu seasons the UK has ever experienced. Minor illnesses such as flu were the most common reason for people taking unscheduled days off last year, resulting in around 34 million lost working days. Taking the time off isn’t the only problem to businesses however, as those who turn up under the weather could be an even bigger threat to companies, as it encourages the spread of illness.
Bupa is advising businesses to encourage a ‘clean hand culture’, with frequent hand washes and access to hand sanitisers as a way to keep the germs at bay, as well as maintaining a clean and tiny desk. With the flu expected to be highly contagious, people could make themselves vulnerable simply by touching the same areas as someone carrying the illness. If in doubt, according to the health specialist, it’s better to be safe than sorry; taking the day off to recover could help halt the contagion.
“Flu is highly contagious and can easily be spread within an office so it is reassuring to see that businesses are taking steps to help their people stay well over the flu season,” said Dr Steve Iley, Bupa UK’s Medical Director. “We expect demand for flu jab vouchers and our on-site nurses to grow as more businesses recognise the value of encouraging their people to be vaccinated each winter.”
The flu virus this winter could hit hard and fast, and unlike man flu, it presents a real risk to British business. If you are going to take time off in the next few months though, try to have a good excuse.