Workforce Absenteeism Exercise

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This simple activity was completed as part of a pandemic influenza response tabletop exercise in March 2009. The activity was designed to illustrate how a pandemic could affect members of the Pandemic Influenza Response Team and to creatively build support for the need to identify three back-up employees for each response position.

The activity was conducted at the end of the exercise before the final hotwash. Exercise participants had each received a packet of materials upon arriving at the exercise. Colored dots had been randomly placed on the back on each packet in pre-assigned numbers. Colors indicated those who were:

    • Deceased


    • Ill themselves


    • One family member ill


    • 2-3 family members ill


    • Not affected

Participants were asked to stand and then sit down as the dot descriptions were revealed.
This quick and inexpensive activity was highly successful in illustrating the following points:

    • The majority of the population will survive a pandemic


    • Most health care will be provided in the home by family members


    • Impact across the response team may be spotty and unpredictable


    • Assigning 3 trained back-ups for each response lead is important

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