Communicating with Employees About the COVID Vaccine

Lauryn Nosek

Lauryn Nosek

Are you concerned about navigating the COVID vaccination cycle? The flu vaccine is simple, but spend ten minutes browsing HR publications and major media sites and you’ll realize the COVID vaccine isn’t. Employers around the nation are struggling with:

• How to determine whether they can (and should) mandate the vaccine for workers returning to the office.

• How to educate employees on the vaccine given the polarized political reality of COVID-19.

• How to incentivize employees to get vaccinated.

• How to deal with the misinformation surrounding the vaccine.

It’s been over a year since the WHO officially declared a global pandemic. For businesses, this past year has highlighted both the importance and difficulties of communicating with employees. As the massive vaccination effort unfolds across the country and around the world, we’ve reached another moment where internal communications are playing a vital role.

Companies and HR leaders are making decisions about how to address employee vaccination from simply encouraging vaccination, to tracking vaccination records (while not infringing on workers’ rights to privacy and medical autonomy.)

Beyond establishing and communicating new policies, employers should make sure they’re also educating workers about the vaccines. Fear and misinformation around the vaccines could be a hurdle to the success and speed of the vaccination programs. Right now both are vital to bringing the pandemic to an end.

What Do Employees Need to Know

The simplest place to start is letting employees know what vaccines are available and how they work. The vaccines received plenty of news coverage. But that hasn’t necessarily translated to a comfortable understanding of them. Sensational headlines can make this problem worse, even when they are just that: sensational.

Many decisions regarding the vaccine rollout are happening at state and local levels. Because of this, there are additional hurdles for any companies looking into vaccination programs across a dispersed workforce. Instead, many employers are turning to tech to track employees’ vaccination status like apps that help workers schedule appointments. Employers are using incentive programs to ease the burden of getting vaccinated.

Companies and HR departments need to let workers know their vaccination policies and provide useful resources and information about where and how they can get the vaccine.

For instance:

• What websites can workers visit to see if they meet current, local requirements for scheduling an appointment?

• Do nearby vaccination sites have preparation checklists or site-specific procedures employers can pass along?

• Which workers are eligible for the vaccine during which phases the rollout?

pandemic protocols wearing face masks and social distancingLastly, employers can assist workers by helping dispel some of the misconceptions and misinformation circulating. Many of these center around the pandemic itself and safety protocols, and others center around the vaccine.

It’ll be a while yet before we can relax when it comes to wearing face masks and social distancing. They’re still recommended for the fully vaccinated when they’re out in public. Time brings us closer to the end of the pandemic. In part, this is because it also brings us better understanding of the virus, the disease, and the best ways to combat them.

Make Sure the Message Gets Through

It doesn’t seem fair but the challenges of communicating with employees during a pandemic remain in place… even when the communication in question is designed to help bring an end to that pandemic. Given the complexity of topics like how the COVID vaccine works, video remains key to sharing information with workers while in-person options remain limited.

Sharing videos about the vaccines and how they work can help answer many questions that arise – visual illustrations of the concepts can be invaluable when it comes to unfamiliar and scientific terms. Providing employees with that kind of informational base also means that if they do have questions, they can be more targeted and relieve HR teams of the time-consuming and repetitive elements of responding to workers’ concerns.

Tech tools like text messaging, apps and flexible digital communications options will help HR leaders ensure the necessary information reaches every worker. The best way to do this is by having a two-pronged approach:

1. Push timely, focused updates.

2. Maintain a central hub for workers to visit for their specific questions or needs.

Texting information directly or having an app they carry with them makes it easier to keep workers updated as the situation evolves. Push communications can alert workers when new groups become eligible for vaccination appointments or if new sites open. At the same time, those notifications should drive employees back to an established resource center where they can find information on the vaccines themselves or FAQs.

Employers Serve A Critical Role

Don’t take this final point lightly. People trust the people they know more than the people they don’t. Information you share with employees will have more weight behind it, and it’s far more likely that anxious employees will listen to you during this period of uncertainty. And with that great power comes great responsibility: your communication strategies, the resources you share, and the policies you implement can be a driving force to herd immunity and the end of the pandemic.

Are you up to the challenge?

Responding to our clients’ needs, Flimp Communications has developed a few COVID vaccine building blocks for communication campaigns. From licensable videos illustrating how the different vaccines work and addressing frequently asked questions to customizable digital postcard campaigns. To learn more about these options and other titles in our video library, contact us directly.

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