Calling all corporate communicators: we are needed, once again!
We are needed, once again!
The worst pandemic we’ve seen in more than 100 years. Remote work. Social and civil unrest across our country. A unique political climate. We’ve seen more unprecedented times in one year than most see in a career.
But we’re not done yet. A new year brings new challenges. And now we turn our attention to the next responsibility we have to our organization and employees – the COVID-19 vaccine.
Fortunately, there is so much information out there already that employees can research themselves to get most of their questions answered.
Uh, if only it were that easy. Because unfortunately … there is so much information out there already, employees are likely to be even more confused.
So, what should organizations do to prepare for the vaccine rollout, employee questions and concerns, and the impact all of this will have on working arrangements and conditions? Here are a few thought starters to help guide your thinking:
Ask the hard questions. There is so much more to think through when trying to address every angle and concern with the topic of the COVID-19 vaccine. Start by putting yourself in the shoes of your employees and try to think of every question they might have or ask. Here are a few that should come to mind:
- What vaccine are we receiving? Why that one?
- Will the company pay for the vaccine?
- If employees refuse to take the vaccine, will they be fired?
- Will employees refusing to take the vaccine be allowed to work at home while others are required to come to work?
- If employees have reactions or side effects, will the company compensate them for time off to recover?
- Will there be consequences for employees who are outspoken or publicly complain or criticize the company on social media?
- Will there be religious or medical exceptions granted?
Survey says… It’s always important to understand how your employees feel about the topic in question and the policy and messaging you’re ultimately rolling out. In this case, it’s even more important. You need to understand the thinking, the fears, the questions so your messaging doesn’t look out of touch.
Consider two recent employee surveys in the news. This first one, from PR Daily, talks about how a majority of employees in their survey think companies should require proof of vaccination before returning to work.
Another perspective is in USA TODAY, where 30% of employees surveyed said they would quit if forced to return to work.
These are serious dynamics that companies need to understand before putting together any messaging strategy.
Too much information? As mentioned earlier, there is a lot of misinformation out there. You may want to partner with outside sources (hospitals, clinics, doctors) to add credibility or expertise. Helping to debunk claims or provide education on these topics is a must-have for your company’s policy.
Consider your company’s population, diversity and communities when thinking through the dangers of not addressing public misperception.
Stick with what you know. Finally … don’t be afraid to address all of this head on. Hey, you already made it through 2020 – you can make it through anything! Trust your values and the culture you’ve built to provide a foundation for how this messaging is communicated and shared.