The decision to get vaccinated or not against Covid-19 is a very personal one, but the decision of each person has profound implications for the health of the community to which he belongs. As a manager, you have the potential to influence your colleagues’ attitudes toward vaccination through your words and actions. It is a good time to use your leadership skills to communicate openly with your colleagues, using a data-driven approach that can have a positive effect and avoid misinformation or ignoring the subject.
LEAD BY EXAMPLE
If you expect your colleagues to get vaccinated, then you should be among the first to take this step. Facts are stronger than words. Leading by example is an easy way to demonstrate that you take the threat of COVID seriously and you view the vaccine as an important tool to reduce COVID risk, thus encouraging the team to take the same approach. Vaccination also gives you the opportunity to talk from your own experience about the whole process and about any side effects you have experienced and creating a relationship with people. According to a survey conducted by COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor, people who have known someone who has been vaccinated are more likely to get vaccinated than people who have said they would get the vaccine “only if required”.
PRESENT DATA CERTIFIED BY HEALTH AUTHORITIES
Discuss the impact of vaccination on the company’s activity, as well as on the lives of colleagues. Good health also means greater freedom of movement, business development, new benefits for employees. Provide information on the risks of COVID-19 and the benefits of vaccination from reliable sources, including vaccination-covid.gov.ro, CDC, the European Medicines Agency, studies conducted by vaccine companies.
Share the fact that VACCINES HAVE A LONG AND EFFECTIVE HISTORY OF DISEASE ERADICATION
Measles, mumps, diphtheria, whooping cough, and polio are just some of the human diseases, with devastating effects that we usually control with vaccines. Smallpox, a historical scourge of humanity, has been eradicated worldwide through vaccines. They play an important role in controlling disease and sustaining health.
LISTEN TO EMPLOYERS ‘CONCERNS AND TRY TO REDUCE THEM
Listening, without judging colleagues’ concerns about the vaccine, is one of the best ways to build trust. Some employees may voice concerns stemming from a lack of information or misinformation about the vaccine. Others may worry about potential side effects. Be prepared to share your own reasons for vaccination and to provide information about the safety of the vaccine from safe sources.
Present THE LATEST LEGISLATIVE PROVISIONS BY WHICH THE AUTHORITIES ENCOURAGE VACCINATION
According to the Romanian strategy for vaccination against COVID-19 in Romania, vaccination is voluntary and non-mandatory.
Law no. 221/2021 published in OJ 732 of 26.07.2021 for the completion of Law no. 55/2020 on some measures to prevent and combat the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, makes the following clarifications:
„Art. 211 (1) Persons who are vaccinated against Covid-19 shall enjoy, upon request, the following rights:
a) one paid day off, which is not included during the rest leave, for each dose of vaccine performed, in the case of employees in the public and private system;
One of the parents of the child up to 18 years of age, as well as of the person with disabilities up to 26 years of age, on the day of vaccination of the child/person with disabilities, also benefits from this right.
The provisions of the law do not apply in the situation where the persons mentioned in par. (1) lit. a) or c) is vaccinated at the company’s headquarters.
In order not to significantly affect the employer’s activity, employees are required to inform the employer about the days off they are to request under this article, in order to ensure in optimal conditions the functioning of his activity.
Ordinance no. 19/2021 published in the Official Gazette no. 834 of 31.08.2021 for the amendment and completion of Law no. 55/2020 on some measures for preventing and combating the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and for amending and supplementing some normative acts in the field of health, makes the following clarifications:
New benefits for people vaccinated against COVID-19 with the full vaccination schedule.
A food allowance is granted, in a total value of 100 lei, in the form of meal vouchers on paper. Meal vouchers can be issued without the personal data of the beneficiaries, which will be completed at the time of distribution. The food allowance, in the form of meal vouchers, represents non-taxable income.
The organization of the Vaccination Lottery is approved as a measure to encourage vaccination. The cash prizes awarded are subject to the fiscal regime related to the prizes income regulated by Law no. 227/2015, with subsequent amendments and completions. The costs related to the organization and conduct of the draws are ensured by the National Company “Romanian Lottery” SA. The prizes are claimed within 30 days from the date of the draw, and the payment of the winnings is made by the Ministry of Economy, Entrepreneurship and Tourism within a maximum of 60 days from the expiration of the claim period. For 2021, the first draw will take place in October.
As a leader, you have to provide constant information on legislative provisions regarding vaccination.
HOW TO SUPPORT VACCINATION IN COMPANY
- Offer paid days off to employees who get vaccinated, according to Law no. 221/2021.
- Open a vaccination center in the company.
- Encourage colleagues to take medical leave after vaccination.
- Organize meetings of employees with the occupational medicine doctors or with doctors specializing in infectious diseases to learn directly from specialists information about the vaccine and its effects.
- Organize open discussions in the company in which leaders with different functions from different departments talk about trust in COVID-19 vaccines. Encourage colleagues to ask questions and express your appreciation for their questions, noting that they play an important role in maintaining health at work.
- Use different information channels: through the intranet, newsletter, posters in common areas, present the story of those who got vaccinated in blog articles, photos, video.
- Express your appreciation to colleagues who choose to get vaccinated, through a personal note. Maintain a balanced approach, without discriminating against unvaccinated colleagues (perhaps for medical reasons) or without giving more appreciation to those vaccinated.
WHAT YOU SHOULD AVOID IN RELATION TO YOUR COLLEAGUES
Provide false information about the safety of COVID-19 vaccines
To be declared safe and effective, a vaccine against COVID-19 infection must undergo a series of tests and meet stringent standards, like any other vaccine approved on the market. COVID-19 vaccines have been given the green light in the European Union after representatives of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) concluded that there is currently enough data on the quality, safety, and efficacy of vaccines.
Rumors and doubts expressed by leaders can make employees afraid of the vaccine. There are real risks due to vaccines, such as rare allergic reactions, but these risks are not as great as the risk of not getting vaccinated and developing severe forms of the disease.
Judge employees when they ask questions or share their concerns
These are truly uncertain times, and the pandemic causes stress and anxiety that can hinder good decisions. People become vulnerable to misinformation and unfounded rumors. As a leader, you must not dismiss employees’ concerns by judging them quickly. It is much more important to listen to them and ask questions. Through an approach based on listening and asking questions, you can help them discover their concerns and reanalyze their options.
Ignore the vaccine talk or shut up
It is not enough to rely on the messages of the authorities to encourage colleagues to get vaccinated. As a leader, you have a mission to convey trust, information from reliable sources, and guidance. Silence in the current context could be read by employees as indifference or hostility to vaccination.
The safety of employees and their families, the future of business, and the health of the communities we belong depends on the positive communication of leaders.