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Thursday, April 14, 2011


This is Steven Petrick posting

One of the problems with a small business is that you cannot really afford to have anyone get sick. Everyone is critical to the company's operations and an illness of one member causes disruptions to the entire operation. This is not because other members are not cross-trained to handle necessary tasks, but the simple fact that in picking up the extra work their own tasks start falling behind. One job can be done well, two jobs can be done about half as well.

It gets worse, however, if the illness turns out to have been fairly contagious. A small company with small offices can be an easy breeding ground for such a predatory virus, especially when several of the company employees already suffer from allergies which mask the initial symptoms. By the time realization comes that it is not allergies, the disease has already had its chance to travel through the airways of the company.

If one person gets sick, others can pick up the slack, and several people can do part of one job, and their own, for a least a little while. In a small business, when multiple people become ill, it is a complete disaster.

You have choices.

You can keep coming to work despite the illness. This means no matter how good your intentions you will not do your own job well and mistakes can come back to haunt the company. Worse, people can keep getting re-infected and start a vicious repeating cycle.

You can accept that you are sick and stay home. At least no one else will be infected and those who are not yet sick may get some work done, but anything requiring your personal input will be blocked from completion.

The only reason flu viruses have not destroyed more small businesses is that they are relatively fast. They strike, put you down for a few days, and then leave you weak and not up to the top of your game for a few more. But then they pass. However, you have to be careful not to be exposed to anything else during the period of weakness when your immune system is trying to reset.

Small businesses have to always be on their toes about illness. It may be better to send an employee who is sniffling home than to lock him in his or her office and simply hope no one else gets ill.

Illness, however, will come, especially if you have a lot of personal contact with people outside of your business.

And as always, its effects will be a plague on their business.