President Biden recently announced that every American is on track to receive a vaccination by May 1st, bringing the nation closer to ‘normalcy’ by July 4th. As distribution continues, it’s essential for organizations to include a vaccine strategy as part of their return-to-work planning to avoid getting left behind. The EEOC states that while organizations can implement vaccination mandates, they do have to consider employees who are exempt due to health, religious or cultural factors.
According to research by SHRM, 40% of U.S. employees say they probably or definitely won’t get the vaccine and 60% of employers do not plan to require the vaccine, but instead strongly encourage it. Whether your organization decides to create a supportive policy or a vaccine mandate, it’s important for HR and other business leaders to take a stance on a vaccine policy and address employee concerns along the way.
"40% of U.S. employees say they probably or definitely won’t get the vaccine and 60% of employers do not plan to require the vaccine, but instead strongly encourage it. "
We’ve put together a list of items for employers to consider in planning their vaccine strategy:
1. Assessing your business’ needs
Creating your vaccine policy based on the context of your business and profiles of employee roles, clients and consumers. Consider the legal factors if your organization plans on introducing a vaccine mandate.
2. Create a vaccine campaign to eliminate hesitancy
Host events like webinars and/or town halls to present the safety and benefits of the COVID-19 vaccination and answer questions to combat common misinformation that may have created hesitancy among some employees. Invite health experts on-site and/or cite credible sources of the information you are presenting to your employees.
3. Be a resource
Distribute vaccine-related videos, emails, pamphlets and offer information regarding eligibility and vaccine location information. Partner with healthcare providers and pharmacies for on-site COVID-19 vaccinations as it becomes available.
4. Incentivizing employees with rewards
Similar to benefits & wellness programs, employers can incentivize employees through financial rewards and other office perks. Whether it’s a contribution to HRAs/HSAs, paid time off, or gift cards, creating a rewards program can further encourage employees to get the vaccine.
5. Communicating the business case for the vaccine
Creating an environment of transparency and communication during this transitional time is essential for employee trust. Business leaders can communicate the reasons why & how the vaccine contributes to business continuity planning & your organization’s goals- such as increasing employee morale, safety, productivity and in-person collaboration.
6. Consider alternative options
Whether employees are exempt or unwilling to receive the vaccine, consider hybrid or work from home options for non-vaccinated employees to protect the safety of the organization as a whole.
Even after employees are vaccinated, the CDC encourages to continue following the Guidance for Businesses and Employers Responding to COVID-19 which includes mask wearing, social-distancing, avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces, washing hands often and wiping down surfaces.
To learn more about the legal factors to consider when deciding between a mandatory vs. voluntary vaccine policy check out our webinar, “The COVID Vaccine: Employee Rights & Compliance“.