Last year, not even one of our employees called in sick because of the flu. We have found that offering flu shots to our entire staff is a simple, inexpensive incentive that helps improve the health of our dairy farming crew and the health of our operation.
How we do it:
We work with the county hospital or county health nurse to organize the flu vaccinations. The nurse sends us information in both English and Spanish, and then we have a meeting with our employees in early fall. This is important because every year we have employees who do not get a shot because they are afraid that the vaccination will give them the flu. During the meeting we can explain the process, how the vaccination works, and the symptoms that they might expect to have.
Next, we set up a day for the nurse to come out to the farm and give vaccinations. We try to do this before the end of October and the actual start of flu season. We set up the nurse in a clean, private room on the farm, usually an office or conference room. Each employee has a choice and signs an agreement that states they understand and want to get a flu shot.
An unexpected perk is that the nurses have always appreciated a change of scenery and have enjoyed coming out to our farm.
Another incentive we offer is for our employees to bring their immediate family in as well. My family also gets in line on this day to set an example for our employees and to protect them. Getting the flu vaccination not only better prepares your immune system, but it might also protect the people you work and interact with in your community.
Why we find it valuable:
1. We care about the health of our employees, because without them, we couldn’t dairy farm. Their well-being directly correlates to the well-being of our dairy.
2. It is a health incentive that we can offer. Many dairy farms can’t offer health insurance to their employees or management. This is a health incentive that is cheaper than losing half your workforce during the flu season.
3. We see it as another preparation for winter. Every dairy takes some precautions when it comes to winter. Offering flu shots to our employees is a part of ours.
We have been doing this since 2012, but we have never had 100 percent of our employees take part. However, we continue to see an increase every year in the number who do participate. Last year we had 32 take part and this year we had 40.
If you have any questions or would like further information about how we coordinate on-farm flu vaccinations, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Christy Achen was the 2018 Hoard's Dairyman summer editorial intern. She grew up on a dairy farm in southwest Kansas. Achen is currently a senior at Utah State University studying agricultural communications and journalism.