American Workers Say Swine Flu Symptoms Extend Beyond The Doctor's Office

Adecco Survey Finds Most Workers Think Their Office Will be Impacted by the Swine Flu, but Also Reveals Employers are Prepared to Handle a Potential Outbreak

Dec 15, 2009, 09:30 ET from Adecco Group North America

MELVILLE, N.Y., Dec. 15 /PRNewswire/ -- Adecco Group North America's latest American Workplace Insights Survey finds that 77% of workers(1) think their workplace will be impacted in some way by the swine flu. The majority (59%) of workers, however, believe their employers are at least somewhat prepared to manage the potential fallout, which may be particularly important following the Centers for Disease Control's recent announcement that a potential third wave of the flu could impact Americans this winter.

Worker confidence in their employer's ability to handle an outbreak may stem from businesses taking the threat of swine flu very seriously, with the vast majority (80%) of employers taking proactive measures to address the issue of swine flu in the workplace. Specifically, just over one in three employers (34%) established a policy on how to prevent swine flu from spreading in the workplace, with nearly half of employers (47%) providing antibacterial wipes/gels and/or sprays to workers. Additionally, almost one in four (23%) employees have received free or discounted swine flu vaccines for themselves or their families.

The survey conducted online between Nov. 30 and Dec. 2 also focused on identifying worker observations and feelings towards the effects of swine flu. Key findings include:

  • Employees take discussions seriously: 79% of workers do not find discussions on swine flu in the workplace to be an unnecessary distraction.
  • Job security not a concern: 89% of workers are not worried about their job security if they have to miss work due to illness.
  • Workers aren't taking advantage: 94% of workers do not think their colleagues are using swine flu as an excuse to miss work.
  • Absences are occurring: Just over one in five (21%) workers has had a colleague miss work due to swine flu.
  • Concerns for long-term coverage: 71% of workers do not think that a coworker would be able to cover for them if they need to be out for an extended period of time because of illness.

"The good news is that most businesses are taking steps to address the risks associated with the swine flu, recognizing that the health and safety of their employees needs to be an organization's top priority," said Joanie Ruge, senior vice president of Adecco Group North America. "As we head into the winter flu season, it is especially important for employers to continue to take every preventative measure possible to avoid an outbreak that could impact their workforce, and potentially disrupt workflow and productivity."

Adecco Group North America offers the following tips for employers faced with confirmed cases of swine flu at work:

  • Communicate: When an office has a confirmed case of swine flu, it is important for employers to communicate to employees what steps they are taking to avoid further outbreak and also answer any questions they may have.
  • Activate Shift Working for Remaining Employees: When possible, to prevent further spread of the disease, break workers into shifts or separate into areas of the office.
  • Utilize Temporary Workers: Temporary workers can effectively keep an organization running while employees are out sick, providing a flexible, on-demand solution as staffing needs fluctuate.
  • Cross Train Employees: By training employees in duties outside their day-to-day skill sets, employers can ensure that tasks will continue even if multiple workers are out for an extended period of time.
  • Re-evaluate Absentee Policies: The recession has created a mentality of job security uncertainty in which employees may avoid taking sick leave for fear of how it looks to their employer. Employers may wish to re-evaluate policies on sick days and telecommuting and actively encourage workers showing signs of sickness to leave the office immediately.
  • Encourage cleanliness: Provide all employees with anti-bacterial products and be sure to wipe down kitchen counters, desks, surfaces.

About the Adecco Group:

The Adecco Group, based in Zurich, Switzerland, is the world's leading provider of HR solutions. With over 29,000 FTE employees and more than 5,800 offices, in over 60 countries and territories around the world, Adecco Group offers a wide variety of services, connecting more than 500,000 colleagues with over 100,000 clients every day. The services offered fall into the broad categories of temporary staffing, permanent placement, outsourcing, consulting and outplacement. The Adecco Group is a Fortune Global 500 company.

Adecco S.A. is registered in Switzerland (ISIN: CH0012138605) with listings on the SIX Swiss Exchange (ADEN) and on Euronext in France (ADE).


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About the survey:

Harris Interactive® fielded the Swine Flu in the Workplace study on behalf of Adecco from November 30 - December 2, 2009 via its QuickQuery(SM) online omnibus service, interviewing a nationwide sample of 2,344 U.S. adults aged 18 years and older, of whom 1,251 are employed full/part time. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables, please contact Anthony Guerrieri.

(1) For the purposes of this survey, we have define "workers" as being U.S. adults ages 18+ who are employed full time and/or part time.

SOURCE Adecco Group North America