Right now, many people and employers are holding their breath just waiting for the new infections and shut-downs to come. Coronavirus is making people uneasy. Almost everyone knows someone who either is infected or may have even died from it.
Of course, some people still think it is a big hoax and the fact that over 340,000 people have died from COVID-19 seems to matter little to them. No doubt, you are likely to have some employees in this camp. Convincing your entire workforce to get a vaccine will not be easy, but some steps will help.
If you have employees working from home – as many companies do – you need to realize that bringing them all back to work in an office will not happen without a vaccine. In many cases, vaccination is an important step to bring your company up to its previous strength and impact.
Employers Can Require Getting Vaccinated
In a decision made in mid-December, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) decided that employers could legally require their employees to get vaccinated as a condition of work. The reason is that not only will it help boost the economy but it would also prevent people from dying. It will also help businesses to return to an increased degree of business-as-usual.
Care needs to be given, however, in how this requirement is made. Accommodations may need to be made in the case of disabilities, union membership, or religion. In those situations, an employer may move the employee to a position where the safety of others is not a great concern, or they may be given a work-at-home position.
Develop a Program to Educate Employees
Before making a vaccination mandate, employees will need to be educated as to the value of it. Facts need to be brought into the program – showing statistics and benefits. Among them are that it will improve overall health and morale, and reduce absences. The information can be given in many ways, including an infographic, a PDF, an email, or a video.
Your employees will also need to be made aware that the vaccine takes between 10 to 14 days for immunity to start to develop. Getting the vaccine does not provide instant immunity so they will still need to wear a mask, wash hands frequently, and practice social distancing during that time.
Make It Easy to Get a Vaccine
When it is easy to get a vaccine, employees are more apt to be willing to get one, but remember that they must get two. You can give them paid time off to get a vaccine. Since some employees may develop some side effects, you may also want to cover any recovery time, too.
Because of the possibility of side effects, some employees may choose not to get the second shot. Unfortunately, if they do not, they will only have about 50% immunity to the coronavirus. Some companies are going to be giving incentives after the second vaccine is received to help ensure that employees get both.
Be careful about incentives as it may be looked at as being discriminatory to people who cannot get the vaccine. It may be a good idea to check with a lawyer first.
Set the Example
Very little will speak as powerfully as getting a vaccine yourself first. Some political leaders have already done this publicly to help encourage Americans to get the vaccine when it becomes available and to convince them that it is safe. Your employees will be much less likely to get one if you do not.