Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, you’ve been doing everything possible to protect both your staff and your customers from infection. Now that vaccines are available (with boosters on the horizon), how can you continue to ensure the safety of your workplace?
As workers return to their in-person roles, you may need to decide whether to require full vaccination before coming back. While larger companies have the option of allowing employees to work from home, most hourly workers need to be on site, interacting with customers, and coming in close contact with coworkers.
Below, we explore what a vaccine policy might look like for a high volume of workers, and how you can roll out such a policy seamlessly and successfully.
When implementing a vaccine policy, start with clear communication, which should be disseminated across all employee platforms, like bulletin boards in break rooms, e-newsletters, or social media channels. Gather workers for a team meeting and explain the new policy using clear and nonjudgmental language, and save time at the end for questions.
Also, be conscious of different viewpoints and opinions. While some hourly workers may be eager to get vaccinated and get back to work, others may be more reluctant or unable to do so for various reasons. Try to be mindful of each unique situation.
Use the aforementioned worker communication channels to provide information on where to get vaccinated and what workers can expect when getting their shots.
For those who want a little extra reassurance, point workers in the direction of evidence-based research, medical advice from infectious disease and virology experts, and examples of other organizations that are implementing similar policies.
Incentives can be a powerful motivator and a means of encouragement. If you decide to allow workers who experience side effects from the vaccine to take time off without penalty, devise a strategy to fill scheduling gaps. For example, ask for volunteer backup workers who agree to be “on call” if needed.
Other incentives can include monetary bonuses, entry into raffle drawings for prizes, gift cards to online retailers, or extra time off.
As part of your policy rollout, consider updating your existing job postings to include the vaccination as a requirement for in-person work.
According to The Wall Street Journal, the number of job postings that have added a COVID-19 vaccination requirement doubled in the past month, from 600 in early July to 1,200 in early August. The number jumps even higher to 5,000% when compared with January 2021 (as of mid-August 2021).
The pandemic has kept all of us on our toes and has taught us to ride the ebbs and flows of ever-changing protocols and recommendations. Because we can’t predict the future, the best solution is to remain flexible and adapt as we go.
For example, as the option for booster shots becomes a reality, you’ll need to decide whether to apply the above strategies and considerations for these shots, as well, and perhaps even for another dose next year, if required.
As temperatures drop and people retreat indoors, remember that you may need to adjust practices to avoid a potential shutdown during some of your busiest months of the year.
Regardless of whether you decide to implement a vaccine policy in your workplace, the journey through the COVID-19 pandemic is not over, but we’ll get through it by working together.