IKEA presents compelling business case for flu shot

Flu-shot clinics a cornerstone of store's health and wellness program

Editor’s note: The following case study and tips were supplied by the Ontario Ministry of Health.

Research estimates flu immunization in healthy working adults results in a 25-per-cent decrease in the frequency of upper respiratory illness, up to 43-per-cent fewer days of sick days due to upper respiratory illness, a 36-per-cent decrease in absenteeism due to all illnesses and 44-per-cent fewer visits to doctors’ offices for respiratory illness. (“The effectiveness of vaccination against influenza in healthy, working adults,” New England Journal of Medicine, Oct. 5, 1995.)

Even with the cost of the vaccination included, the savings resulting from influenza immunization, in this study, were found to be $55.86 Cdn per person vaccinated.

Numbers such as these are part of the reason, every fall, employees at IKEA’s store in Burlington, Ont., participate in a wellness week.

The company focuses on health and wellness by thinking of the “whole person,” said Fran Vacirca, the store’s manager. During the wellness week, health experts such as dietitians, naturopaths, foot specialists and chiropractors provide information sessions and advice to employees.

The wellness week is also an opportunity for the store to promote its annual influenza immunization clinics, which are offered each year to its 340 employees.

“IKEA is a busy place, we are serving thousands of visitors each and every day, so working when you aren’t feeling physically well is not good for us or our customers,” said Vacirca.

Influenza immunization clinics are a cornerstone of the store’s health and wellness program, providing an important opportunity to maintain employee health and well-being for professional purposes, and to also ensure employees go home healthy and don’t spread illness to their families.

To ensure the immunization clinics are complemented by a broader “stay healthy” plan, the company looks at other ways it can improve employees’ overall health. Last fall, for example, the store redesigned its employee menu to include healthier options that meet the Canada Food Guide recommendations.

What IKEA learned about hosting a flu clinic

Make it convenient: IKEA Burlington offers its employees two opportunities per year to be immunized. “We host one clinic in the fall and one again in the winter, for anyone who didn’t get immunized in the first round,” said Vacirca.

Advertise: IKEA Burlington promotes its clinics for several weeks leading up to the dates of the clinics through various channels including its quarterly newsletter and posters placed in the halls and staff rooms. Sign-up sheets are hung outside of the first-aid room and meeting rooms in which the clinics are offered.

Tips for hosting a clinic

Encouraging staff to participate in a workplace flu clinic is crucial to cutting down on lost production time due to employee absenteeism. Flu clinics also demonstrate a commitment to workplace wellness, which can lead to improved morale. The following are some tips on how to set up a workplace influenza immunization clinic:

• In co-ordination with your local nursing agency, set up dates, times and locations for your workplace flu clinic.

• Provide employees with information on the Universal Influenza Immunization Program and its availability.

• Determine an appropriate location in the workplace, such as a staff lounge or quiet area, to accommodate a flu clinic setup.

• Ensure the clinic location has: a sink and running water; a desk or table with chairs for employees and the nursing agency staff to administer and set up the flu vaccine equipment; a cot or bed to be used for emergency purposes; garbage containers for non-medical waste; access to a telephone; and a designated on-site contact or helper to assist with clinic co-ordination.

• Arrange sign-up or appointment sheets for employees, as well as a nursing agency influenza immunization contract (to be provided by the nursing agency).

• Let the nursing agency know the estimated number of participating employees at your workplace at least one week prior to the first flu clinic date.

• Send out e-mail reminders to employees reminding them of the date of your workplace flu clinic.

For updated information on influenza clinics and how to reach a local nursing agency, visit www.gettheflushot.ca/workplace/howtosetupfluclinic.html.

The flu shot is available at no cost to anyone who lives, works or attends school in Ontario and is supported by the Government of Ontario. Further information can be found at www.gettheflushot.ca.

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