Staff report absence via the internet
We leave the shock and awe pandemic stories to the tabloids.
Our view is that a very small proportion of the UK population will have serious complications from the flu pandemic. With the exception of GPs and the NHS, the principal challenge for employers is to ensure the running of day-to-day operations under scenarios where maybe up to 20% of total staff is off work with flu or looking after children with flu.
The internet is a powerful tool. It helps facilitate home working which should minimise the spread of the virus and the NHS is relying heavily on the use of the internet to help people self-diagnose and thus avoiding clogging up GP waiting rooms.
Recently, powerful applications have been developed to enable large organisations to quickly set up processes whereby employees can report flu related absence via the internet and access support provided by their employer or occupational health provider.
Real-time information on infection levels and affected staff allow operations, HR and other people involved in Business Continuity Planning to have their fingers on the pulse. This real-time information, provided down to department or location, will help making resourcing decisions and minimise business disruption.
In addition to providing employees with support (e.g. ability to request a phone appointment with a nurse), the tracking of sickness absence should help enforce medical guidelines, so avoiding employees coming back to work too soon and increasing the level of infection. Detailed reporting will also reduce staff abusing the situation – a system that works well should pick up employees that repeatedly go off with swine flu this autumn and winter!