Boosting Vaccination Rates Among Employees
How can businesses encourage their staff to be vaccinated? We provide some tips.
Singapore’s COVID-19 vaccination rollout has largely been a success, with over 80 per cent of the population fully vaccinated as at end-August. Furthermore, Singapore has kicked off its national COVID-19 vaccine booster programme on 15 September for seniors aged 60 and above. Yet, for the country to reopen confidently and minimise transmission risks, it needs as many of its people to be vaccinated as possible.
Many companies also recognise the importance of achieving a high vaccination rate among its employees to help accelerate its ability to return to business- as- usual, especially with the prevalence of new, more infectious, variants of COVID-19.
However, as vaccination remains voluntary in Singapore, some employees are still hesitant to do so. To address this, companies here have adopted a range of measures to encourage their staff to be vaccinated.
BiZStyle offers some suggestions on how local businesses can give their vaccination efforts a shot in the arm.
Give them the facts
Education is an easy strategy that employers can utilise to encourage their staff to get vaccinated. By providing employees with resources and information about the merits of vaccines – whether it is through talks or educational materials – they will be able to make an informed choice on whether to get the jab.
This strategy is easy to implement, comes at no or low cost and can help to lower employee resistance or address misinformation about vaccines.
Make the process pain-free
Employers should strive to make the entire vaccination process as convenient as possible for their employees. This could mean giving their workers paid time off to go for a jab and offering them flexibility to do so.
As an added incentive, some firms give their workers a half day off on the day of their shots, or even provide for dedicated “vaccination leave” that is above and beyond an employee’s annual leave.
Give them enough time to recover
Staff should also be given the peace of mind that they will have enough time to recover should they develop side effects after being vaccinated.
Some companies allow their staff to take sick leave without having to produce a medical certificate if they do suffer from side effects. Employees who have developed a particularly severe reaction to the vaccine are also encouraged to visit clinics that are covered under their employer’s medical insurance scheme.
Invest in the messaging
To keep vaccination at the top of the minds of their employees, employers need to regularly remind their workers about getting their jabs through consistent and frequent communication. This requires a whole-of-company effort as sending out just one or two emails will not get the job done.
Companies can also consider appointing employees who have already gone for their vaccinations as ambassadors and encourage them to share their experiences with colleagues who are hesitant about getting their jabs. These trusted and credible messengers can help to clear up any misperceptions about the process and effects and ease any concerns the latter may have.
Employers have traditionally used incentives to encourage their staff to make healthy choices; whether it is free gym membership and fitness programmes for staff, or time off for staff to pursue wellness-related activities. In the same vein, companies can also offer such incentives as a way of rewarding workers who choose to get vaccinated.
Do not stigmatise
Regardless of a company’s efforts, there will still be some employees who will choose not to get vaccinated for personal reasons and employers should respect this. Employers may continue to deploy unvaccinated employees in higher risk activities with regular testing. Alternatively, they can also decide whether to redeploy these employees to another job with lower risk of COVID-19 infection, commensurate with the employee’s experience and skills, as per existing redeployment policies. Such employees should not be stigmatised or ostracised from the rest of their colleagues, as this will be harmful to staff morale. Employers should also not implement any unreasonable differentiated measures to further segregate vaccinated employees from unvaccinated employees.
Employers should be understanding and remain inclusive by considering the needs of individuals who are unable to be vaccinated due to underlying health reasons or conditions. For this group of employees, a frequent testing regime may be the alternative to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all employees at the workplace.
Employers should also keep updated of the latest government advisories and adjust their workplace policies accordingly. The Government has announced that from 1 October 2021, employees in selected sectors including healthcare, F&B, personal care services, as well as taxi and private hire care drivers, driving school instructors and retail mall workers would be required to be vaccinated or undergo regular testing (i.e., “Vaccinate or Regular Test” (VoRT) regime).