What Is the Best Way to Motivate Employees to Get Vaccinated?

Requiring employees to get vaccinated or face termination can create strong resentment and even legal challenges. But motivating employees to get the vaccine offers no downside.

The COVID-19 vaccine offers the possibility of a mask-less, social distancing-less future. But that can only happen if the majority of Americans get vaccinated. Is your company making plans to encourage employees to do it?

As I have written previously on this blog, requiring employees to get vaccinated or face termination can create strong resentment and even legal challenges. But motivating employees to get the vaccine offers no downside. I saw last week that Kroger is offering $100 to employees to be vaccinated.

What are other ways to motivate employees to get vaccinated? Social modeling and pressure can be even more powerful than monetary incentives. On your intranet or company Facebook or Instagram page (especially if you have accounts designed especially for your employees), ask employees to post photos of themselves getting vaccinated or ask them to simply share their vaccination news. You could even come up with an “I’ve Been Vaccinated!” digital button or icon employees could use on any social media account (their own or a company account) to quickly show they now are protected from COVID-19.

You could set up a page on your intranet or one of your social media accounts for employees to “Tell Your Vaccination Story: Who Are You Doing It for?” There could be a reward delivered this fall for the top three winning stories. That reward could take the form of a company donation to the charity of the winning employees’ choosing.

As I have suggested in the past, showing videos of top executives getting vaccinated can be a motivator for others at the company to do the same. The executives could include a few-minute segment in these videos that explains why they have chosen to be vaccinated and why they hope all other employees will make the same decision. Mid-level department heads also can be encouraged to share their own vaccination videos and stories, and to hold virtual meetings to talk with employees about the importance of getting vaccinated.

Hosting a virtual town hall with a local doctor or health official who can answer employee questions about the vaccine, allay concerns, and clear up misconceptions is another powerful way to make vaccination more likely. There is so much misinformation about the vaccine that it’s good to know there are online resources to share with employees. One of those is the WebMD Covid-19 Vaccine Misinformation Center.

In addition to the benefits to individual well-being, company communications can note the great importance to the future of the company of having a vaccinated public in which COVID-19 is no longer a threat. Businesses and the economy have suffered as a result of the pandemic. There is an incredible financial incentive for all of us to make it go away as fast as possible. The top way to do that is by as many people as possible getting vaccinated as soon as they can. Consider putting together an e-blast and a page on your intranet about the enhanced financial outlook of your company if COVID restrictions—and the accompanying fears and consumer hesitancies—are no longer present by year’s end. You could even dangle the possibility of a company-wide bonus, or other incentive, if financial performance reaches a particular benchmark by the end of the year—pointing out the much greater likelihood of reaching that benchmark with COVID out of the picture.

Another idea: Set up a page in which employees can submit proof to the company that they have been vaccinated, with the company keeping track of the percentage of employees who have gotten vaccinated. You then can let employees know that when that percentage reaches a certain point (say 70 or 80 percent), there will be a company-wide reward, such as a celebration or gift cards for everyone.

If your company is large enough, there also could be the possibility of hosting a vaccination clinic on your corporate campus. Certain days and hours could be designated for employees and the rest of the days/time slots could be given to the local community. Local health authorities might jump at the chance to use your corporate campus as a vaccination site, and may be enthusiastic about facilitating the vaccination of hundreds or thousands of your employees.

There is considerable confusion about and difficulty getting vaccination appointments. Could you help employees learn how they can best get an appointment? Is there a link you could post to your intranet for employees to click on to schedule an appointment to get vaccinated? You also could provide regularly updated information on who in your city and state are currently eligible for vaccination, along with any other requirements to get an appointment. You could list vaccination sites on your intranet, and you could even set up a vaccination-appointment-getter buddy system in which employees who are having trouble using the public Websites to secure an appointment could get help from more digitally savvy colleagues. Those who volunteer to be helpers could be rewarded with an additional few days of vacation time or with a gift card.

Fear and hurdles stand in the way of people getting vaccinated. Whatever you can do to ease the way will help both your company and your community—and even the whole country and world.

Are you incentivizing employees to get vaccinated? How? If not, why not?

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