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Vaccines: The Communication Hurdle for Employers

February 5, 2021

By Linda Olejniczak, courtesy of SBAM Approved Partner ASE

The EEOC affirmed on 12/16/20 that businesses and employers may require employees to receive a vaccination as a condition of continued employment and can require proof of COVID-19 vaccination. While the news about the COVID-19 vaccines presents a light at the end of the tunnel, our journey is not over.  A recent article in SmartBrief presents a set of challenges for employer-employee communications.  It has as many questions as answers.

The challenge, according to a December study from Pew Research Center, is that only 1 in 5 Americans intend to get the vaccine. Added to that are limited supplies, side effects, and difficulty scheduling the vaccine. How do employers help build trust in the vaccine process and diminish employee fears?

Build smart communication using these recommendations to educate and show empathy for your workforce:

Clarity and Transparency – Communicate the process and expectations to all employees. Align your communication about the COVID-19 vaccine with all your health and safety topics.

Create a Plan – The vaccine will not be available to everyone for months.  Develop a positive communication plan and align it with your community’s effort to educate about the vaccine process.

Two Way Street – Provide a way for employees to ask questions.  Make sure the message is the same from the top down and that managers show empathy and are engaged.

Be Inclusive – Make websites and information from public health officials accessible for all employees and in multiple languages. Consider developing resources such as FAQs, fact sheets, break room fliers, and other materials that reiterate the company’s position.

Be Understanding and Patient –Give employees time to get comfortable with the vaccine process and provide them with consistent communication that increases in frequency as access to the vaccine approaches.

Employers can play an important role in promoting COVID vaccination by carefully planning their communication. Do not target groups, such as those with underlying health issue or in a certain age group.  Prepare a strategy, include a policy, privacy controls for documentations, and make HR and your managers aware that an employee may be entitled to an exemption from a mandatory vaccine policy.  

Visit our vaccine information page for more information and resources on this topic.

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