New to HR? Templates, tools and development to make you a seasoned pro in no time.
Shawn Premer shows how doing the right thing for employees leads to positive business results.
Is your employee handbook keeping up with the changing world of work? With SHRM's Employee Handbook Builder get peace of mind that your handbook is up-to-date.
Build competencies, establish credibility and advance your career—while earning PDCs—at SHRM Seminars in 12 cities across the U.S. this spring.
#SHRM18 will expand your perspective – on your organization, on your career, and on the way you approach HR. Join us in Chicago June 17-20, 2018
Members may download one copy of our sample forms and templates for your personal use within your organization. Please note that all such forms and policies should be reviewed by your legal counsel for compliance with applicable law, and should be modified to suit your organization’s culture, industry, and practices. Neither members nor non-members may reproduce such samples in any other way (e.g., to republish in a book or use for a commercial purpose) without SHRM’s permission. To request permission for specific items, click on the “reuse permissions” button on the page where you find the item.
Even though the United States has declared a health emergency regarding the outbreak of swine flu and the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is encouraging everyone to take precautions, human resource executives and disaster preparedness experts are urging people not to panic.
That’s the advice Bonnie Daniels, SPHR, GPHR, is handing out to employees at MiTek Industries Inc., in Chesterfield, Mo., where she is vice president of human resources.
And if anyone should have a right to panic, it should be Daniels. She spoke to SHRM Online on April 28, 2009—her first day back at work after returning from a seven-day Caribbean cruise where the first port of call was Cozumel, Mexico.
“I’m not nervous at all,” said Daniels, a former member of the Society for Human Resource Management’s (SHRM) Employee Health, Safety and Security Special Expertise Panel. “I’m really not. I don’t feel bad. I don’t have a fever. I don’t feel nauseous. Honestly, I was in Cozumel for all of four hours.” She added that she’s more likely to have caught something from one of the 3,000 people on the ship than from anyone in Mexico.
Daniels advises HR professionals not to panic when it comes to this latest health scare. After all, we’ve survived SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) and the avian flu.
She said MiTek is having companywide safety meetings on appropriate hand-washing protocols and respiratory infection etiquette. The company is cleaning bathrooms thoroughly, wiping down door handles, public phones and other communal surfaces with antibacterial wipes. She said it’s also making sure hand sanitizers, paper towels and tissues are available in all of its facilities.
“We’re also advising employees that if they are sick not to come to work. This is what we normally do around flu and cold season. We’re just re-emphasizing normal protocol.” She said all HR professionals should follow suit.
“We don’t want to create panic, but we do want to create awareness and re-emphasize the appropriate procedures for maintaining a healthy work environment,” she explained.
Ann Brockhaus, senior occupational safety and health consultant for ORC Worldwide, a global HR consulting firm, concurred. She added that the best thing HR can do in addition to all of the above is to keep employees informed by suggesting they bookmark the web site for the CDC.
The CDC web site is the best place for credible health information—especially for U.S. companies. Global companies should turn to the World Health Organization’s web site, she said.
Felipe Portocarrero, director of operations for VOLO Recovery, an Ormond Beach, Fla., disaster recovery business that’s been monitoring the chatter about the swine flu on Twitter, said networking users are reacting with panic or apathy.
“It never hurts you to be prepared,” he conceded. “You don’t want to be caught off guard in a situation like this. You don’t want to be reactive as a company instead of proactive. It’s never too early to begin” disaster planning.
Keeping that in mind, Portocarrero suggests that HR departments do four things:
“The most important thing”—after securing employees, of course—“is your data,” he said. Make sure you have access to your data systems. Everything is digitized these days—customer data, employee data, contracts, finances.
Being prepared is paramount, no matter what’s going on, he added. “If it’s not the swine flu, it’s going to be a fire or a flood or a bomb threat. The list of things that could affect your business operations is endless.”
HR executives worldwide are concerned about the pandemic.
On April 28, 2009, nearly 300 health and safety and human resource members of ORC Worldwide participated in a 90-minute teleconference about swine flu preparedness, Brockhaus said. She said some revealed that despite the suggested travel restrictions, many were still sending employees to Mexico, but only for mission-critical business.
“One of the topics that came up … was what are you doing about paying people who just came home on business from Mexico,” she said. “The general consensus was to continue paying people their salaries while they’re at home [whether they’re working or not] to make sure they’re not in the incubation period for swine flu. It’s counterproductive to tell people to stay home if they’re sick and then forcing them to work without pay.”
If it gets to the point where there are mass quarantines, Brockhaus said, generally, companies should have a pandemic flu coordination team that includes a pandemic flu coordinator for an enterprise as a whole as well as a coordinator for each site. The team should be cross-functional.
Aliah D. Wright is an online editor/manager for SHRM.
“Guide to Pandemic Preparedness for Businesses,” ORC Worldwide guide that addresses six critical categories companies need to focus on when preparing for a pandemic
Swine flu: Frequently Asked Questions, About.com
SHRM Poll: Contingency Plans for Avian Flu, SHRM Research PowerPoint, March 22, 2006
Pandemic, HR Magazine, May 2006
Employers Urged to Stockpile Respirators To Combat Flu Pandemic, SHRM Online Safety and Security Discipline, May 2008
HR Essential to Develop Organization’s Emergency Protocols, HR News, June 2008
You have successfully saved this page as a bookmark.
Please confirm that you want to proceed with deleting bookmark.
You have successfully removed bookmark.
Please log in as a SHRM member before saving bookmarks.
Please sign in as a SHRM member before saving bookmarks.
Please purchase a SHRM membership before saving bookmarks.
An error has occurred
Recommended for you
Talent Attraction Study: What Matters to the Modern Candidate
SHRM Annual Conference & Exposition
SHRM’s HR Vendor Directory contains over 3,200 companies