The rollout of the COVID-19 vaccines has received mixed reactions from the public since they began being administered late last year. And although for now they’re limited to front line workers and individuals at high risk, it is expected that soon (around spring this year for the US), the doses will also be available to the general public. As governments and healthcare professionals scramble to produce and distribute these vaccines in bulk in a bid to create herd immunity, their efforts have been met with skepticism at every turn mostly due to a lack of knowledge and widespread misinformation.
Employers and the COVID-19 Vaccine
For employers, the rollout of the vaccine could bring a number of positive outcomes for the running of their businesses. For one, it could improve the productivity of their employees as they continue to work remotely, and also bring back a semblance of normalcy to their day to day operations. But most importantly, from a humanitarian standpoint, it could prevent more deaths and alleviate the anxiety that has become synonymous with the virus. This is why, in days to come, employers have an imperative duty to ensure that the vaccine is well received within their workforce as well as in the communities that their businesses call home.
Without mandating the vaccine for their employees, business owners can find a way to put their employees’ minds at ease to help them take the shot of their own volition. According to a survey, conducted in the terminal months of 2020 on 1676 adults, only 9% of the respondents would take the vaccine if it was required for work. This shows that employees would be less likely to take the vaccine if they’re coerced to do so. Unless the nature of their job makes it such that the employees face a direct threat of contracting the virus in their line of work, employers shouldn’t make receiving the virus a condition for continued employment.
What role can you play as an employer to ensure a smooth rollout for your employees?
Since health can be a sensitive topic in the workplace, you should handle the discussion of the COVID-19 vaccine carefully, with a balance of neutrality and empathy. According to the statistic cited above, it would be counterintuitive to force your employees to take the vaccine because it could negatively impact their morale, so instead, you can encourage them to make their choice in a sensitive and humane manner.
Here are some pointers you can follow to help you sail through this issue smoothly:
1. Focus on educating your workforce
In this age where fake news spreads fast, prioritizing the dissemination of accurate, verified and science-backed information is essential. According to the WHO, the technology that our lives are centered around is being used to “amplify an ‘infodemic’ that continues to undermine the global response and jeopardizes measures to control the pandemic.” The result of this is that there’s so much information out in the public that it’s difficult to identify what’s true from what’s not. So it isn’t surprising that many people are still in the dark about the effectiveness of the vaccines and their potential side effects. If your employees raise the same concerns, there are multiple resources such as the CDC and WHO websites that share accurate information about the virus and the vaccines.
You can also take the conversation one step further by creating an open channel for communication that addresses your employees’ and customers’ concerns in a sensitive and timely manner.
2. Make health and wellness the bedrock of all discussions concerning the vaccine
Some employees may misconstrue your efforts to encourage their reception of the vaccine as an excuse to get them back to the office. Now that many employees have already adjusted to working remotely, they may be indifferent to the vaccine because they don’t want to feel the pressure of returning to the office. This is why you must make it abundantly clear that your motives are not selfish. Let your employees know that their physical and mental health and that of their families is the main reason for taking the vaccine. You also shouldn’t peg the future of their employment at your company on their willingness to take the vaccine.
3. Hire a medical professional to lead your campaign
Unless you are in the medical field, the conversation around the development, efficacy, and dosage of the vaccines may be out of your scope. So to err on caution, you should hire a health professional to answer all the questions your employees may have about the vaccine. Your employees will feel at ease knowing that the information is coming from a reliable source. Freelancers can also help you create an informational campaign for your employees to help raise awareness on the importance of taking the vaccines.
4. Address the challenges that your employees may face
Recognize that receiving the vaccine may not be as clear cut as just sitting at the doctor’s office for a jab. It can be a deeply emotional process especially for those who may have lost loved ones to the disease. If your health insurance policy will not cover the cost of getting the vaccine, then don’t rush your employees into it because it is an additional financial burden. What you can do is offer incentives to encourage them to take the vaccine sooner. These can include a day off on the day of vaccination or running an employee rewards program for those that choose to take it. If possible, you can also set up an on-site vaccination station to make the process even more hassle-free for them. However, this shouldn’t be done in a way that alienates those who choose not to get the shot right away.
5. Make your efforts local
Generic information may not cut it when it comes to sensitive health discussions. Only you understand the environment your employees are in, so only you can make them feel heard with your personalized response. This is crucial in fostering trust within your community. You can go a step ahead and get the vaccine first (as some leaders have promised to do) to show them that it is perfectly safe to receive it.
For the successful rollout of the COVID-19 vaccines around the world, governments and healthcare professionals require as much support as possible. This provides employers a chance to step up their roles as leaders within their communities, to act as conduits between their employees and improved healthcare. However, caution should be exercised to ensure that this is done in a non-imposing, compassionate fashion.
It’s a difficult time for businesses everywhere – and an extra supportive hand can do wonders for your organization. Hire freelancers on Ureed.com to help you manage the stress of the year & enable your business to thrive.