If your favorite small store or other small business is short-handed this winter, you might have to blame a worse-than-average flu season. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, flu cases nationwide and in 35 out of 50 states are moderate to high, and absences are hitting businesses hard.
If you’ve ever wondered, the CDC has an entire website dedicated to weekly flu statistics, but one thing that it doesn’t keep track of is how many of those people who were sick stayed home from work or school.
While the rise of telecommuting has made it easier to still work when you’re contagious but not too ill, there are plenty of jobs where working from home isn’t an option.
The founder of a company that sends overnight caregivers to homes with infants talked to the Associated Press about how the flu has affected her business. There have been times when a quarter of her workforce was out of commission.
“I can’t tell you how awful it is to be speaking with a mom on the verge of tears because we don’t have staff to help,” she told the AP.
Not all flu-like illnesses are the flu, either: For some people, the symptoms of Listeriosis can resemble the flu, and other foodborne illnesses also keep employees home.
While the AP article focused on this from a business point of view, we as consumers should remember to be understanding when a business is short-handed, since that’s better than forcing sick people to come to work.
What else can consumers do to deal with flu season? Prevention goes a long way: Hand-washing and getting a flu shot if you haven’t already can protect you and people around you.
At your job, have plans set before anyone is out about who covers for whom when a sick day strikes.