Concept image of a Calendar with a blue push pin. Closeup shot oWhile there’s no vaccine for COVID-19, there is one for influenza, and public health officials are urging people to get a flu shot by the end of October. Getting one is the best way to prevent the spread of the flu, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Many companies encourage their employees to get flu shots each year. Should yours be one of them?

Flu viruses are most common during the fall and winter months. Flu activity typically begins to increase in October and November and often peaks between December and February. The flu vaccine isn’t just for children and the elderly. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control says everyone should think about getting one. While the flu vaccine is not 100% effective, each year it reduces the risk of flu-associated hospitalizations and deaths of both adults and children. According to the CDC, from October 1, 2019 through April 4 of this year, 39 million to 56 million people had the flu, resulting in 410,000 – 740,000 flu-related hospitalizations and 24,000 – 62,000 deaths.

Flu shots may be even more important this year. Many people with chronic health conditions who are high risk for the most severe complications of COVID-19 are also at risk of severe flu-related complications. With no vaccine yet approved for COVID-19, getting a flu shot can help reduce the likelihood of coming down with both viruses at once, or getting the flu first and then testing positive for COVID-19.

How should your company approach the idea of flu shots with its employees? Most employers nationwide outside of the health care industry encourage employees to get flu shots instead of trying to mandate them. Some people have strong views against the flu shot and other vaccines. It also can be a tricky legal area. That’s because under federal law, employees may make a request that they not be required to get a flu shot due to medical or religious reasons.

Studies show that offering on-site flu clinics, providing paid time off to get a flu shot and/or paying for the cost of each employee’s flu shot (if the shots aren’t covered by insurance) can help to substantially increase the number of workers who get vaccinated. Teaching employees about the health risks of influenza and offering other incentives to get a flu shot also can help boost the percentage of workers opting to get vaccinated.

78305570_MIn many companies, marketing ideas usually originate in departments or outside companies dedicated to that purpose. It’s a business model that’s worked for decades. But it doesn’t always have to be that way. Some of the most intriguing and innovative ideas for marketing your company can also come from employees who don’t work in marketing.

Yet how do you gather those types of ideas? Forbes magazine’s Communications Council offers up a number of ways a company’s leadership can encourage employees to contribute great ideas that can help a business grow and succeed.

Use the right tools

From Slack to Microsoft Teams and beyond, there are ways to use technology that’s part of everyday business to leverage ideas as much as managing tasks. Alexi Lambert Leimbach from the company Xcellimark considers how technology can be an avenue for sharing: “People can easily submit ideas and comment on each other’s input, feeding off of the different concepts submitted to help generate even more ideas. They’re able to participate and collaborate without being physically located together.”

Gamify your ideas processes

Be sure to keep it light, but having contests relating to the gathering of ideas, for example, could be a fun way to get creative juices flowing. Patrick Ward of Rootstrap explains that “creating some friendly rivalry … (with rewards) is a great way to get the creative juices flowing.”

Don’t forget to give thanks
It’s important to have a way to give credit where it’s due — and to never skip that step — when a person or team comes up with an idea that’s going to be used. “Even if you had to make major revisions, acknowledgment is critical,” Ellen Sluder of RingBoost told Forbes. “It not only makes the contributor feel good, but also demonstrates the behavior you want from the larger team, while also motivating others to contribute for their moment of glory.”

Provide an avenue
Several of the council’s ideas for outside input on marketing are focused on the fact that it’s important to be open to ideas from anyone and to provide a way for those ideas to be found. Corey Morris from Voltage gives this guidance: “While there are definite roles and lanes to stay in, giving everyone a voice and freedom to research, brainstorm and ideate is critical. Don’t lose that great strategy because it wasn’t their role.”