Most employees aren’t comfortable yet – in the office or at home. Among the newest stressors: vaccine worries.
Fortunately, HR can – and will want to – help ease their worries, especially since safety is nearly always on their minds.
“When we don’t feel physically safe, we can’t think. If we can’t think, we won’t be able to be very productive at work,” says Alla Weinberg, a workplace relationship expert and author of Culture of Safety: Building an environment for people to think, collaborate, and innovate. “It’s the survival instinct, our brain checks are we physically safe – yes or no.”
Add vaccine worries – Should I get it? Did everyone else get it? Will it make me sick? How can I get it for my elderly parents? Do my kids’ teachers have it? – and employees are stressed even more.
While HR can’t ease all of their worries, you can help alleviate them – and reduce vaccine hesitancy.
Harvard Business School researchers suggest these strategies to lessen vaccine worries and help employees make the best decisions when it comes to getting the vaccine:
Share stories over statistics
Employees will get – and believe – all the vaccination statistics they want from media sources.
Statistics, scales and pie charts aren’t as effective as personal stories of real loss. You might offer employees a platform to share stories of loss or illness. That might encourage others to get vaccinated.
Of course, give employees the choice to share and read the stories. The outlet can help employees who’ve been affected firsthand heal.
Most companies won’t mandate employees get the vaccine. But most strongly recommend it for employees who work on-site.
In your recommendations, emphasize the primary vaccination benefits to ease worries: Employees will avoid getting sick and spreading the virus to family, friends and colleagues. You might mention other benefits such as people could need to be vaccinated to travel internationally or attend large events.
Focus on here and now
People tend to value immediate benefits. And after a year of isolation and shutdowns, the end to the pandemic and restart to normal life is one big benefit.
So focus on vaccination short-term benefits – such as returning to activities and events they love. But continue to emphasize the focus on safety in the workplace such as mask wearing and social distancing.
Make vaccination easier
Many employers offer employees time off to get the vaccine. Some employers plan to bring vaccination clinics on site.
You’ll want to give employees time to get the vaccine. Also allow extra time off if any employees suffer ill effects from the vaccination.
Do all you can to make sure employees don’t incur any financial loss getting a vaccine – from having to pay for it or losing work time.
Avoid overloading employees with COVID-19 vaccination information. When people have too many choices and too much detail, they often get overwhelmed and make no choice at all.
Give them details on why, how and where they can get vaccinated. That should make it the easy choice.