Guest Blogger

by Jill Christensen

As the world races to vaccinate as many people as possible – as quickly as possible – organizations are going to have to take a stand on the vaccine.  Questions need to be answered such as: Should we mandate the vaccine?  If not, should we encourage employees to get vaccinated on their own?  How do we do this without acting like Big Brother?  Is incentivizing employees a viable option?  What about exempt employees who do not want to get vaccinated?

Last week I was joined by two healthcare industry experts to answer these burning questions.  The webinar took a fascinating look at the business case for promoting vaccinations, and strategies to encourage employees to get vaccinated, which include education, communication, and rewards and recognition.

While we can hope that education and excellent communication will inspire employees to say, “Yes, I want to get vaccinated,” hope is not a strategy.  Some employees are going to need more of an incentive, and that’s where rewards and recognition come into play.  A recent Willis Towers Watson survey shows that 20% of employers are offering employee incentives to get vaccinated and 29% of employers are planning to or considering doing so.  Why?  Because rewards are a powerful emotional tool.

Ideas for incentivizing employees are broad.  Besides allowing time off for employees to get vaccinated, you could offer points or credits in a Wellness or Reward and Recognition Program, coordinate socially distanced vaccination parties with refreshments, offer additional paid time off, or enable employees to have a flexible work schedule for a period of time.

The one thing we caution against is offering cash or other financial incentives. Why? Because you do not want to send the signal that, “This could be harmful, so we’re going to pay you to get the shot.”  We think a more effective approach is to recognize employees who get vaccinated because they are aligned with the value of Safety First.

Employees want to feel safe in the workplace, customers want to know that it is safe to be present with us, and we need to end this pandemic to return to normal.  Encouraging vaccination of employees is the right strategy for business, as it will demonstrate alignment with ‘the value of the decade’ – Safety. Using recognition and reward to align values is a proven strategy to improve engagement and retention.  A no brainer.

Jill, What Can I Do?  Watch the 35-minute webinar reply. It includes vital information you need to make decisions, which are in the best interests of your business, your employees, and the people you serve.  Once you’ve viewed it you will be in a position to develop a vaccine strategy that outlines how you are going to approach this issue, key messages, action items, owners, and how you will measure success.  For your company and society as a whole, that’s a good thing.

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