Employers Globally Preparing for Avian Flu Outbreak

March 21, 2006 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - A recent survey from Watson Wyatt Worldwide shows that multi-national companies from all over the world are taking steps to prepare for a possible avian flu outbreak.

According to a Watson news release, the survey found that more companies in Asia-Pacific (32%) already have plans in place to deal with the effects of an avian flu outbreak. The US was the second most prepared, with 15% of employers already having plans in place. Eleven percent of European companies surveyed had a plan in place, while plans were already in place in 10% of Canadian companies and 9% of those in Latin America.

Out of the 90 multi-national companies surveyed, the number that are considering putting a program in place to deal with the effects of an outbreak, according to the release, included:

  • 52% in Asia-Pacific,
  • 48% in the US,
  • 47% in Europe,
  • 44% in Latin America, and
  • 42% in Canada.

Of no surprise, companies in Asia-Pacific were far more worried about an avian flu outbreak than companies in other regions. Seventy-four percent of Asia-Pacific employers said they were concerned to a great or moderate extent about the impact a flu outbreak would have on their workforces, compared with 45% in Europe, 38% in Canada, 36% in Latin America and 34% in the US.

Robert Wesselkamper, director of international consulting at Watson Wyatt, said in the release that when making a plan companies should consider what has worked in that past and, “Companies should also make sure to communicate their formal plans to manage through any business interruption – including alternative work arrangements and reimbursement for preventive and onset treatment – to the entire workforce, particularly associates responsible for deployment.”