Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Employers: Save Money By Giving Workers Free Flu Shots So They Don’t Get Sick and Die

Author: Nick
Category: Money
Topics: , ,

dear boss, please give me a flu shot or i will throw up on you

If you run a business with even a handful of employees, it makes financial sense for you to give all of your employees on-site, free flu shots. That’s what I figured out today as I sat in a conference room getting my free flu shot paid for by my employer.

What am I talking about this time? Consider the following statistics about influenza:

  • Each year, 36,000 people die from the flu in the U.S.
  • More than 200,000 people are admitted to the hospital due to flu symptoms.
  • Depending on the severity of the flu season, anywhere from five to 20% of Americans get the flu each year.

People dying and ending up in the hospital is certainly a horrible thing, but you don’t even need to look that far to see the consequences the flu can have on your business. If 20% of your employees are getting sick each winter, they’ll quickly rack up those sick days. Those sick days can have a heavy impact on your company’s bottom line.

Let’s do the math using some fairly conservative numbers. Say you run a company with 100 employees, and the average fully-loaded employee cost is $25/hour. Now say it’s a particularly mild flu season and just 10% of your work force (10 employees) gets the flu, and each one calls out sick only two days (8 hours/day × 2 days = 16 sick hours/employee) as a result because you’re a mean boss and they don’t want to get fired for using too many sick days (jerk). Finally, let’s peg the cost of a flu shot at $25 per person.

  • Cost of flu: 10 employees × 16 hours × $25/hour = $4,000
  • Cost of flu shots: 100 employees × $25 = $2,500

Now if one of those employees should end up hospitalized, you could find your company paying a lot more for health insurance the next year. And heaven forbid one of those employees dies, the price of employee life insurance will spike, not to mention the cost of hiring a replacement. Free flu shots would more than pay for themselves should either of those events transpire.

Sure, some workers get free flu shots through their insurance anyway, but many more have to cough up a co-pay or simply pay the full cost themselves. Add to that the inconvenience of driving to a doctor’s office or flu clinic, and many people just won’t spend the time and money to protect themselves from the flu. But if those flu shots are free and just down the hall, those workers are far more likely to get themselves inoculated.

Employees, tell your boss you want a free flu shot. You could even print out this article and place it on his or her desk with big red circles and drawings of little stick figures throwing up. If that doesn’t do the trick, then your boss is a schmo.

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