Vaccination Update – Keep Calm and Communicating

A hot media and lunchroom topic is the vaccination debate – whether that’s mandatory vaccination within sectors, or the employee’s right to choose, it’s time for employers to be thinking about addressing the topic with employees.

Vaccinations and the COVID-19 Delta variant have been dominating our newsfeeds since mid-August. With the Government’s move to a 90 per cent vaccination target and an imminent decision on vaccine certificates ahead of the summer festival season, it’s time to start thinking about vaccinations in our workplaces.

The Government has been unequivocal in its response that it will not be making vaccinations in the workplace compulsory, unless people are border workers. So where does that leave you?

Driving informed decision making

Hopefully, you’ve got your policies in place and you’ve started having conversations with your teams (we touched on that here back in February).

Since then, there has been a massive uptake in vaccinations, particularly in recent weeks (helped by the recognition that essential workers, regardless of age, should be top of the queue). However, there are still some eligible people who either haven’t booked or had a vaccination. Those people primarily fall into two categories – the hesitant and the anti-vaxxer.

Let’s be frank, the chances of changing the mind of an anti-vaxxer aren’t high. What you can do is assist those who still aren’t convinced by providing as much credible information as you can from legitimate and trustworthy sources, supporting them to make fully informed choices.

The tone of your communications is important, so anything you do needs to be tempered with ensuring your communications don’t sound like lectures. Simply provide the right information so that your staff feel informed to make the right decision for them, their families, and their future.

Two of the best places to source accurate information and resources are:

The Immunisation Advisory Centre, based out of the School of Population Health at The University of Auckland

Ministry of Health

If you have a multi-cultural workforce you can also find some useful downloadable resources in multiple languages here.

The human element

What you also need to be mindful of is that vaccinations can be a hot topic. There were numerous reports of heated discussions in the workplace before this latest lockdown. As an employer, it’s your role to stand up for the rights of all of your team members, regardless of their vaccination stance and your personal feelings on the topic.

Providing a calm and empathic environment for people to express themselves is important. Keep an ear to the ground and address any issues as they arise. Don’t ignore shop floor mutterings in the hope they’ll go away – you could be causing irreparable damage to your team culture if you do.

It’s been proven time and time again that businesses that show genuine care for their employees are more likely to retain staff because they are happy and feel well supported.

It has been reported that employers are one of the five key agents that drive vaccine updates, so this is your opportunity to live up to your company’s wellness values and help to support and drive informed decision making for your staff.

Make it easy

If you’re an employer looking towards having your whole workforce vaccinated (for whatever reason), try to make it as easy as possible. Some suggestions are:

  • Provide employees paid time off during work hours
  • Provide assistance for those with low literacy to make vaccination appointments
  • Talk to your local PHO about having a health professional speak to your staff onsite, answering any questions they may have
  • Look for champions within your workplace to encourage others to be vaccinated.

Some employers are even offering paid incentives for employees to be vaccinated, particularly across sectors where large numbers of people are working in close proximity.

There isn’t one right solution to fit all circumstances. But what does hold true in every situation is that employers have a duty of faith to look after the wellbeing of all of their staff. It’s your role to maintain calmness across any debate. The balance is not to diminish any staff concerns.

Need advice about communicating with your internal team? Reach out for a no-obligation free chat.