Poll Shows Most Americans Lacking Direction from Their Employers for the H1N1 Flu Season


Most workers have not had any direction from their employers about the upcoming flu season, according to a national survey released  by Mansfield Communications Inc.

In the survey of a national representative sample, 69 percent of respondents say they have received no communication about policies in the workplace pertaining to H1N1 -- not even information related to handwashing or sick leave.

The survey, conducted by Angus Reid Strategies for Mansfield Communications Inc., interviewed 1,028 workers Sept. 10-12 2009. It was intended to gauge the readiness of workers for the pending H1N1 pandemic. The margin of error is +/- 3.1 percent, 19 times out of 20.

The poll found that a large majority (84 percent) of American workers believe the recession creates more pressure to show up for work -- even if they are feeling sick.

"Many workers are understandably concerned about how absenteeism due to sickness will impact their job security in the current economic environment. However, sick employees coming into the office during the H1N1 flu season will undermine the health and productivity of the entire workplace," said Rob Ireland, partner at Mansfield Communications Inc.

"Employers need to clearly communicate with employees about such things as extended sick leave policy and procedures to minimize the spread of infection. During a pandemic, employers must become trusted sources of information and help employees make the right choices."

The majority of the workers surveyed (80 percent) felt they were knowledgeable about precautions that should be taken if the virus reached their workplace. Yet approximately half (47 percent) of the respondents said that they would still engage in public activities (such as riding the bus, picking up a prescription or grocery shopping) even when they were infected with H1N1 and required to stay home from their office due to a company-imposed quarantine.

"The gap between professed knowledge and practice is alarming," said Ireland. "Nearly half of respondents said that they would continue to engage in public activities with full knowledge of their infection. Clearly, there is much to be done to educate America`s workforce and help people act appropriately in order to contain the spread of H1N1."

Additional poll findings:

* When asked how concerned they were about the H1N1 Virus, approximately 50 percent of workers rated their concern a six or higher on a scale of 1-10.

* When asked if they planned to get vaccinated if a vaccine was made available this fall, 49 percent of all respondents said yes and 51 percent said no.

* When asked about public activity while infected, 52 percent of men said that they were either somewhat or very likely to engage in it, while 43 percent of women said the same.





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