Employees Sick Again? 5 Tips to Manage Seasonal Illnesses

DeniseBlommelBy Denise M. Blommel

Despite the best weather in the nation, many Arizonans are suffering from allergies, colds and influenza. Human Resource professionals are fielding calls from supervisors about the many employees who are calling in sick and complaining about being short-handed.

On the other hand, even more employees are coming to work hacking and sneezing in order to work more hours to make ends meet. And the government will be mandating seven paid days of sick leave for employees of federal contractors beginning in 2017.

What’s an employer to do? Here are some tips: Continue reading

Preventing illnesses in the workplace

A recent study by Harris and cited by EHS Today found that 81% of Americans have seen someone doing something gross in the workplace. The most common answer was someone wiping his or her runny nose on that person’s own hands or sleeves. The second most common was not covering one’s mouth when sneezing.

Workplaces where employees follow good hygiene practices bear a smaller chance of having sick workers making other people in the office ill.

“While workplaces are full of poor hygiene habits, their frequency tends to increase around cold and flu season,” said Dave Mesko, senior director of marketing for Cintas, a uniform company. “To reduce the spread of viruses and bacteria, businesses need to increase cleaning frequencies and encourage employees to practice proper hand hygiene to keep them from getting sick in the first place.”

Best practices for keeping illness at bay
According to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), one of the many things managers can do to make sure people don’t get sick is to establish safety and health goals. For example, bringing in an expert to talk about the flu or having a nurse giving people the flu shot are both ways to reduce illness. Another way to help lower the number of sick days in the office is to make sure people know that taking a day off is all right in the first place. When people don’t use their sick leave, then they are working at a time when they are most vulnerable to giving workers illnesses.

Workers can do their part by reporting their illnesses to management, along with following best practices for keeping sickness out of the office. This may include wiping one’s runny nose on tissue paper that is thrown away, washing hands regularly and being sure to cover one’s mouth during a sneeze.

Safety and Health Magazine explained that people should sneeze into the crook of their elbows; to avoid getting germs onto one’s hands. This way if someone has to shake another person’s hand, germs won’t be passed on. Another rule of thumb that could be brought into an office is to isolate potentially sick people to a minimum distance of six feet away from other people. Additionally, it may be a good idea to have disinfecting wipes that can be used to clean desks of germs.

ASBA launches health insurance platform

Rick Murray

Rick Murray

By Rick Murray
Chief Executive Officer
Arizona Small Business Association
Before the Affordable Care Act (ACA), large groups like the Arizona Small Business Association (ASBA) could negotiate specific plan designs and rates with carriers based on underwriting requirements. In most cases, it created a preferred buying opportunity for our members. With implementation of the ACA, that opportunity largely was neutralized by requiring certain minimum benefits and no underwriting based on previous medical history.

ASBA’s sole purpose is to help small businesses be successful. Negotiating preferred rates on healthcare was a huge part of why some business owners chose to be members of ASBA. With that taken away, we had to figure out what role we could play in helping small business obtain healthcare coverage.

The ACA has been part of the healthcare landscape for a year now. While confusion still exists around the mandates and tax credits of the ACA, the marketplace, or shopping experience, has begun to take shape. The idea of a one-stop, easy-to-use “Amazon.com” shopping experience never materialized — at least until now.

That’s why I am excited to announce the Arizona Small Business Association has partnered with ConnectedHealth to launch Connect2CoverageAZ, a co-branded version of ConnectedHealth’s award-winning Smart Choices™ Marketplace.

It’s an online health insurance and benefits shopping platform where someone can get health insurance in as little as 12 minutes. Connect2CoverageAZ allows business owners, their employees and their family members to shop for health insurance plans and other ancillary products from national and regional health insurance companies based on their personal preferences and financial goals.

ASBA launched this new service at the beginning of December.

Connect2CoverageAZ helps us participate in delivering relevant benefits to our members and their employees, and I am excited to offer this new technology to the Arizona business community, whether they are members or not, so they can make informed decisions about their families’ health insurance.

Connect2CoverageAZ assists users in navigating the complexities associated with selecting health benefits, while helping them to understand the total financial impact of their benefit options.The new portal also is integrated fully with the federal marketplace and allows ASBA members and their employees to determine if they are eligible for government financial support for their health coverage.

Small business owners need flexible solutions when it comes to benefits coverage for their employees and Connect2ConverageAZ delivers it simply and efficiently. This effort will continue to position ASBA as a forward-thinking organization helping its members and all Arizonans to stay healthy and attract top talent to grow their businesses.