IN MY LAST ARTICLE dubbed, ‘Rules of Engagement’, corporate leaders were cautioned that the current situation regarding the workforce resistance to mandatory vaccination was not one to be taken lightly and hence, it would be in the best interest of all if they knew and followed the rules of engaging employees under these circumstances. With the newly amended Public Health legislation, it is expected that more corporations are going to require their staff be vaccinated. To this end, it is of utmost importance that our corporate leaders get this right as recent events have shown, this can go terribly wrong.
Before one can attempt to tackle the issue of hesitancy to the Covid 19 vaccine and build an atmosphere conducive to effective engagement, understanding and trust in the workplace, the reasons for the resistance must be identified and addressed. Research has unveiled that much of the resistance is as a result of uncertainty about the safety, efficacy and necessity of the vaccine. If our corporate leaders were to listen carefully, it would become clear that many employees are concerned about the side effects and long term health effects of taking the vaccine; these are legitimate concerns and should not be ignored. Many contended that initially, information relating to the Covid 19 vaccine was scarce and as the information became more available so did the misinformation; this resulted in a mountain of scepticism.
It is human nature to tread cautiously when dealing with the unknown. Consequently, managers need to first give their employees an opportunity to express their concerns and provide as much information as possible from the experts. This is necessary if employees are to be convinced that the risks of not taking the vaccine may be greater than those posed by it. Another critical step is for leaders to effectively and truthfully communicate the need for and benefits of herd immunity among their staff, as well as the personal and corporate risk of resisting the vaccine. Leaders must ensure that employees understand numerically the economic cost and benefit of choosing to take or not to take the vaccine. A numerical analysis and explanation is more believable and gives employees an opportunity to rationalise the impact of their decision themselves.
It would be an understatement to say that our managers are operating in unchartered waters. Even so, now more than ever, our leaders must apply the rules of engagement and get it right!
Dr. Wendyann Richardson is a Management Consultant who specializes in corporate governance, business operations management and refining of skills through training. She can be reached at refiningleadersinstitute@ gmail.com