How Can I Prepare My Company for an H1N1 Pandemic?


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Ask the Expert: How Can I Prepare my Company for an H1N1 Pandemic?
By Robert Cirkiel

Chess board as metaphor for business strategy by Grahall ConsultingAs the lazy days of summer wind down, vacations end, Labor day arrives and Americans return “full steam ahead” to work and school, we should keep in mind that this time of year will also ring in the flu season.  

In a July 11th article titled “US Braced for  H1N1 Swine Flu Return“   published in Voice of America, Carol Pearson says: “Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius said government agencies at every level are preparing a defense against the H1N1 flu as well as the seasonal flu.”  Quoting Ms. Sebelius: “We do not know exactly how the virus will present during the fall flu season, but our surveillance efforts have led scientists to believe the impact of the virus could worsen this fall or earlier”…

A client recently inquired about what, if any, steps they might take to prepare for an flu outbreak.  Here is a quick summary of our recommendations.

The best first step for employers is to have sound work site policies and contingency plans in place regarding pandemics and illness in general.  If the company is multinational, additional travel related policies are a must.

As I shared in my first blog on this subject “Swine Flu: What Employers Really Need to Know”  if you don’t have policies and contingency plans in place now, get started!  Be fast, but be thorough.  Remember there could be scarcities of supplies, government funding, etc.

Consider work-at-home options, identify your essential staff, determine what advice you should or should not impart, and find out how to make information readily available from your health insurer.

Consider the impacts of employee absences and of school closures. Determine how teleconferencing can be utilized should restrictions on international and even local travel are recommended or imposed.

We are curious as to the actions you have taken or plan to take to prepare for a possible pandemic.  We invite you to share your plans and preparations by posting a comment to this blog below.

If you would like more information on how to prepare for a pandemic email Robert Cirkiel at

Link to Robert’s other blogs on this subject:

Swine Flu: What Employers Really Need to Know

Update #2

Update #3

Update #4

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