Although skepticism about the coronavirus vaccine has declined in recent months, there is still a large percentage of people who are uncertain about getting vaccinated. Employers anxious to achieve herd immunity and reduce employees’ health and safety risks are contemplating whether they should require or encourage policies in the workplace. While the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has given the go-ahead for certain employers to mandate vaccinations, the risks and liabilities have many businesses opting to encourage staff.
Communication Works Best
Talking to employees about the COVID-19 vaccines seems to be the best course of action at the moment. As fears and misinformation are the common cause for hesitation among the general population, educating staff can help provide peace of mind. This approach enables employees to feel in control. It also provides them with the facts they need to make an informed decision. If you’re interested in trying the communication strategy, here are some tips to get the best outcome.
Vary Your Approach
As you work with human resources or legal experts to develop a communication strategy, it’s essential to vary your approach. Trying to provide all of your employees with the same information or a blanket message can cause more problems. Some employees are willing to take the COVID-19 vaccine, some are curious, and others outright oppose the idea. You want to ensure you’re not forcing this information on employees that aren’t interested. However, you want to find a solution to educate those that are willing versus those that are hesitant.
Get Your Facts Straight
The worst thing you can do is spread information about the COVID-19 vaccines that isn’t true. Misinformation and false claims could reduce your credibility and trust with your employees. It will also heighten their fears and anxieties about getting vaccinated. Therefore, you must contact the facts straight. Pull details from reputable government, medical, or news sites and double-check the data before distributing it to your staff. Since policies and information change regularly, you should check for updates often.
Consult An Expert
From the outside looking in, your employees may believe that you’re encouraging vaccinations to improve your bottom line. They may view any information you provide them as inaccurate or one-sided. Although this isn’t your intention, you must put yourself in their shoes. You can reduce speculations and uncertainties by hiring a human resource, medical, or legal professional. They are well-versed in COVID-19 vaccines, workplace policies, and employee rights. Having them assist you with drafting the content and perhaps disseminating the information to your staff is ideal. They can ask questions and feel confident knowing that the data is coming from a reputable third-party source.
Incentives And Reasonable Accommodations
Another way to encourage employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine is to offer incentives or reasonable accommodations. You can offer paid time off or additional sick leave so staff can get the vaccine when it’s most convenient for them (and not have to worry about their paycheck). You can offer to cover the cost of transportation to and from the vaccination sites. Some companies have even found it beneficial to pay small cash bonuses to anyone that shows proof of vaccination.
Put It In Writing
If you’re going to develop policies for COVID-19 vaccines in the workplace, ensure that you put everything in writing. You’ll need to add this information to the employee handbook, hang signage around the workplace, and potentially have forms to be signed. Don’t forget to add this information to any job postings. That way, potential employees can learn about employer background checks, screenings, and vaccine policies before accepting a position with your organization. As an added protection, don’t forget to have your attorney review everything before you publish.
Though it seems that employers have the power to mandate COVID-19 vaccines in the workplace, not many organizations are jumping at this opportunity. Most have decided it was best to encourage hesitant employees through communication. The idea is to provide fact-based information on the vaccines, side effects, and employee protections to soothe anxieties. If this is a route you’re considering, ensure that you follow the suggestions above for the most effective plan.