Many companies strive to do everything they can to keep their workers safe. Now that COVID-19 vaccinations are rolling out and are available to most, if not all, working-age adults, many organizations are trying to figure out how to discuss the vaccine with their workforce. If you aren’t sure how to approach the topic, here are some options that can help.
How to Talk to Your Staff About The COVID-19 Vaccine
Focus on Education
Even though vaccines are widely available, there is still a lot of conflicting information about them, particularly online. One step employers can take is to provide employees with access to data and insights from reputable sources. Great sources include the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and similar entities.
Additionally, encourage employees to speak with their physicians about the vaccine. Not only can their doctor provide them with reliable insights, but they can also discuss each worker’s unique situation. This can be beneficial for employees who may have health conditions that leave them wary of getting the vaccine, as the physician can take that into account and make an appropriate recommendation about how they should proceed. This will help keep your staff safe.
Be Empathetic During Conversations
Great leaders have empathy. If your employees want conversations about the COVID vaccine, be empathetic to those who have concerns. The pandemic has been a scary time, in and of itself. Couple that with the misinformation that’s spreading regarding the virus and the vaccine, and it is not a surprise that some people are worried.
Let employees talk about their fears in a calm way. Provide them with reliable information that may make them more confident about proceeding. While some may not be swayed, it could make a difference for those who are looking for answers. By providing information they couldn’t find, you may be able to help them.
Take the Right Approach to Mandatory Vaccinations
If you are considering mandatory vaccinations, make sure you use the right approach. First, it’s important to acknowledge that a portion of your workforce may qualify for an exception to any mandatory vaccination policy. This can include those with certain health conditions, individuals who have had allergic reactions to other vaccines, or members of specific religious groups, as well as others. For those that do potentially qualify, you may need to determine if reasonable accommodations are available or necessary.
Second, there may be local laws that don’t support a mandatory vaccine requirement. You’ll need to research local regulations to ensure that, any policy in place, aligns with local law.
Third, employers may need a plan for handling if an employee gets the vaccine as required and then has a poor reaction. Since it was mandated, companies need to figure out if they will compensate negatively impacted workers or provide them with enough paid time off to recover.
Finally, you’ll need to decide what will happen if an employee who isn’t exempt refuses to get the vaccine. Here, you may also need to review local laws, particularly if you intend to terminate workers who don’t comply.
Ultimately, the situation is complex. Companies need to exercise caution while also working to ensure their employees have access to reliable, reputable information and encouraging open discussion for those that have concerns. While there is a light at the end of the tunnel, there is still a long road ahead. Remain agile so that you can adjust as necessary, ensuring you can keep your workforce safe while you navigate this new territory.
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