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(Gennadiy Poznyakov/Getty Images/iStockphoto)
(Gennadiy Poznyakov/Getty Images/iStockphoto)

SMALL BUSINESS BRIEFING

How small businesses can fight the flu bug bite Add to ...

The latest news and information for entrepreneurs from across the web universe, brought to you by the Report on Small Business team. Follow us on Twitter @GlobeSmallBiz. Download our app here.

Aches, pains, work absences: how to handle it

Flu season is upon us, and Canada may be suffering one of its worst outbreaks in years, according to reports such as this one and this one in The Globe and Mail, and this one and this one elsewhere. (And if you want to see for yourself, have a look at Google’s flu trends tracking).

With the season comes a lot of aches and pains, and absences from work. Having staff off for illness can cause problems for businesses of all sizes, but can be even more trying for smaller enterprises, where fewer employees means more noticeable effects when they're away, recounted this story we published in April, 2011.

So what should small businesses do during flu season? Encouraging or arranging vaccinations on site is one suggestion in this Newsday piece. Offering hands-sanitizing products or facilities is another way to help keep the germs at bay.

And employees who are sick should be encouraged to stay home, says that piece and this one on Fox Small Business.

“We encourage people not to feel uncomfortable or worry that we are angry with them for being sick and staying home. If someone is truly sick, they should stay home and not be penalized. The atmosphere should be that managers and supervisor should not be harsh on their employees,” Fox quotes Dr. Vicki Bralow, a physician and small business owner with two practices and eight employees in the Philadelphia area.

That’s not always easy, as The Globe piece noted. Lost productivity is one of the biggest consequences of people calling in sick, it pointed out. And it can mean a scramble to cover for those off.

At the same time, “presenteeism” -- where employees show up for work despite being sick -- can also be problematic, maybe even more so in smaller organizations, where those working in smaller numbers and with tighter ties might feel guilty about taking off. And yet, that, too, can cause its own problems for employees worried about being exposed to illness, and, well, preferring the sneezers stay home, the story noted.

For some advice on how to handle sick days, a Globe accompanying piece offered suggestions such as having policies and procedures in place so employees know how to handle absences, and cross-training employees as well as having job duties clearly spelled out so staff can cover for one another.

Go ahead: have a good cry at work

One piece of commonly spread advice has been to never weep at the office. Too personal, makes others uncomfortable, sign of weakness and all that. But this Inc. piece argues that shedding a few tears at work may actually bring some long-term benefits.

Among them, demonstrating an emotional display can help build bonds among employees that may strengthen teamwork,  the piece suggests. It also says that crying can help force attention on, and possible resolution to, a work-related problem. And “taking charge of an emotion...is an empowering experience that can give a workplace fresh energy,” it says.

But it warns that “timing is everything.” Better to let the tears fall in a more intimate setting than in the middle of a big meeting, it advises.

Why kids need more entrepreneurship education

In this piece, Canadian Federation of Independent Business vice-president Laura Jones makes an argument for why the education system needs to do more to teach kids about entrepreneurship.

EVENTS AND KEY DATES

Online marketing strategies

The Innovation Factory will host an online marketing strategy workshop on Jan. 24. The presenter will be Jim Rudnick, CEO of KKT Interactive, offering insights on how to develop an online marketing plan for your business, including SEO tactics, social media strategies, online monitoring and website foundations. It will take place in Hamilton, Ont. For more information, click here.

Franchise law day

The Canadian Franchise Association is hosting a franchise law day, offering workshops and roundtable discussions on the latest developments, case law and other practical information surrounding franchise law. The day is aimed at existing franchisors and franchisees as well as startups who might be developing a new franchise system or new entrants to the Canadian market. It takes place on Jan. 31 in Toronto. For more information, click here.

Wireless summits

Wavefront is hosting a series of summits over three days that will connect the wireless industry, from entrepreneurs to global industry leaders, to “accelerate ideas and market opportunities.” The second annual summits focused on mobile and wireless technologies will be held from Feb. 4 through Feb. 6 in Vancouver. For more information, click here.

EDITOR’S PICKS FROM REPORT ON SMALL BUSINESS

If you can’t be there, technology offers cool ways to get CES fix

With a mix of actual conference activity and digital experiences, the Consumer Electronics Show has demonstrated how trade shows can simultaneously live in the real world and online, writes Mia Pearson in her latest column.

FROM THE ROSB ARCHIVES

Would you pay for video beamed from outer space?

When Scott Larson co-founded UrtheCast, a company poised to install the world's first HD cameras on the International Space Station, there were a lot of questions facing his team around what the revenue model would look like, recounted this case study by Sauder School of Business lecturer Jeff Kroeker that was published in December, 2011.

Got a tip on news, events or other timely information related to the small-business community? E-mail us at smallbusiness@globeandmail.com

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