by WEX Health
Does your health and wellness program have one of the most important elements to make it successful this year? Flu shot initiatives can yield one of the biggest returns on investment by keeping employees healthy and not missing work.
Why Should You Encourage Flu Shots?
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), there are definitely business reasons for encouraging flu vaccinations as it estimates that the flu is responsible for 17 million workdays missed each flu season. Additionally, it estimates that the flu costs $10.4 billion a year in direct medical expenses and an additional $16.3 billion in lost earnings annually.
Most companies recognize the value of offering a flu shot program. According to the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans’ 2017 Workplace Wellness Trends survey results, 83 percent of U.S. respondents provide free or discounted flu shots. Those organizations also reported a 48 percent participation rate with 18 percent offering employees an incentive to participate.
Tips for Preventing the Spread of Influenza
Employers can also use their wellness program to inform employees about the necessary steps to take to prevent the spread of influenza. Helpful tips experts suggest posting and explaining to employees are:
- Effective hand washing methods
- Proper cough and sneeze hygiene, including covering your mouth and nose with a tissue
- Avoid touching your mouth, nose, and eyes
- Get enough rest
- Avoid close contact with sick people
- Stay home when you are sick
Some employers may decide that offering their own on-site flu clinic is the way to go this year. To get buy-in, wellness plan sponsors should review flu vaccination prevention and rationale with senior executives, managers and labor representatives, if applicable, prior to hosting the event. The CDC also makes these recommendations to ensure a successful workplace flu clinic:
- Schedule the flu vaccination clinic to maximize employee participation. Flu season usually begins in the fall each year so having it coincide with Open Enrollment may work well.
- Promote the flu vaccination clinic with posters, social media, and email blasts with Save the Date Reminders.
- Ask managers to allow employees to attend the clinic during their workday without needing to go off the clock.
- Offer the flu clinic vaccinations to employee’s families.
- Use incentives such as offering the vaccine for free or holding a contest to reward the department with the highest percentage of participation.