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Communicating Covid-19 Vaccine Policies

Posted by Spitfire Communications on Oct 13, 2021 10:43:17 AM
Communicating Covid-19 Vaccine Policies

Sixty-percent of global executive leaders say they plan to encourage their employees to get vaccinated for Covid-19. And as companies across the world consider how to navigate such a complex public health crisis, making the decision to motivate or even mandate employee vaccinations requires a well-strategized communication approach. 

The most effective vaccine communication plans are based on a variety of factors — from industry type to geographical location to roles and responsibilities and travel requirements. Not to mention, an emphasis on empathy can make the difference between employee uncertainty and hesitation and company-wide understanding and adoption. 

Here is a comprehensive guide for how to communicate Covid vaccine policies with sample vaccine communication approaches, strategies and other key considerations. 

How to Communicate Covid-19 Workplace Vaccination Policies 

→ Lead with the facts, but be sensitive 

It’s safe to say you should anticipate a range of emotions when rolling out a pandemic-related policy, especially for employee vaccination. Encouraging and even requiring employees to get vaccinated is an extremely sensitive issue. It should be approached with reliable and current information from credible public health sources while reinforcing best practices to prevent the spread of Covid-19 in and outside the office

Explain why you're requiring vaccinations

Communicating the “why” is essential in almost any form of employee communication. You’re much more likely to garner buy-in and respect when employees understand the reasoning behind your decision in the first place. Find a trusted leader, expert or employee to explain the scientific data behind Covid-19 vaccination and why it’s important for the organization at large, as well as each individual’s health. 

Announce your vaccine policy in neutral territory

Considering Covid-19 vaccination is such a sensitive topic, it’s important to ensure none of your employees feel singled out. Communicate your vaccination policy in a neutral space, address everyone with the same information, and try, if possible, to have all hands on deck so they can receive the message face-to-face and readily ask questions. 

Explain the potential consequences of non-compliance

Yet another sensitive topic, but if vaccine mandates are being implemented, addressing the consequences of non-compliance is another necessary component of your communication approach. Be specific about what the ramifications are and how they will impact the company and each employee. 

Offer ample support for employee concerns 

Once the policy has been communicated, company leaders and HR should carve out sufficient time and availability to discuss employee concerns and answer their questions. Reinforce other resources to assist employees with their questions and needs of all kinds: remind them of their medical/wellness plan information, EAP resources and other benefits that can help them with decisions surrounding the vaccine and all that goes along with it. Inevitably, there will be pushback, health concerns or rising anxiety, and it’s critical for employees to have the support they need during a time of such uncertainty

Walk through accommodations and exceptions 

Those with religious or medical exemptions could have questions about how they will be accommodated. Announce this information upfront, but be sure to let exempt employees know that next steps will be discussed in private. 

Leverage trusted thought leaders 

Firsthand vaccination experiences from respected or trusted thought leaders can help encourage employees who may be on the fence about getting vaccinated. You might ask a manager, leader or employee to share their own vaccination story, or have them get publicly vaccinated so others can see for themselves. 

Educate employees on their health and wellness 

Employee wellness has been a growing priority for many organizations, especially since the onset of the pandemic. By educating hesitant employees about the benefits of vaccination and why it’s so crucial to personal and public health, you can encourage those who may be on the fence to get the jab. There are several resources you can use to gather educational materials, such as one of the CDC’s Covid Vaccination Toolkits or the EEOC’s "What You Should Know page. 

Connect through consistent and reliable channels 

There’s a good chance your company has already established consistent communication channels during the pandemic, especially if you have a sizable remote workforce. Whether it’s a dedicated website, town hall video conference, productivity platform or social media page, using familiar channels to communicate your vaccination policy can add a layer of consistency that’s much-needed in this evolving situation. 

Use technology to improve communication

Multi-channel tools and technologies are a great way to streamline Covid-19 related communication. You can use them to share educational resources about the vaccine, communicate next steps and send mass notifications through multiple channels like phone calls, text messages, emails and even mobile apps. This ensures every employee is receiving the most up-to-date and accurate information about your vaccination policy.

Sample Vaccine Communication Approaches 


Vaccine Requirements for Employees in External-Facing Roles

Interacting With Patients or Customers

  • Advertising vaccination clinic sites (in-office or nearby) 
  • In-office posters and table tents with educational information to promote awareness. 
  • Video messages of trusted leaders or coworkers receiving their vaccine. 
  • Text, email and phone call reminders of vaccination clinic times and location details. 


Vaccine Requirements for Employees Traveling For Business

Domestic and International Travel 

  • Targeted text and email messages to employees resuming business travel. 
  • Flyers and postcards that promote how to receive a Covid-19 vaccine. 
  • Vaccine policy details on posters and in trusted communication channels. 
  • Text, email and phone call reminders of vaccination clinic times and location details. 


Vaccine Encouragement for All Employees

Especially Those Working in the Office and Commuting on Public Transportation

  • CEO or leadership announcement outlining return-to-work plans and how Covid-19 vaccines fit in. 
  • A dedicated page for Covid-19 vaccine facts and myths with links to trusted science-backed sources and information from public health experts. 
  • Talking points for a series of small group meetings between managers and employees to address concerns and FAQs. 
  • Text, email and phone call reminders of vaccination clinic times and location details. 


Tailor Your Communication Strategy to Your Organization 

Coupled with a robust return-to-work policy, the communication plan around your organization’s Covid-19 vaccination policy should take shape based on your answers to a few specific questions: 

  • Should you (or can you) require your employees to get vaccinated? If so, what exactly will your workplace vaccination policy be?
  • What is your “why” and how will you communicate it to your employees?
  • What ways will you encourage or mandate employees to get vaccinated? 
  • What will the incentives and consequences be?
  • Which channels will be most effective for communicating your vaccination policy?
  • Who will support employee concerns and how will they accomplish this?
  • There may be other questions that are unique to your organization. Feel free to add them here. 


Once you’ve whittled down the answers, you can start to formulate an effective employee communication strategy that fits your organizational goals.

1. Brainstorm and Breakdown Your Communication Strategy
  • Take your previously outlined vaccine policy and define a communication plan that aligns it with your workplace and business needs. 
  • Identify specific employee populations and think through ways to anticipate their concerns or confusions. 
  • Create metrics for campaign success and determine how they will be assessed.
2. Gather Buy-In from Leaders and Managers
  • Before releasing any communications, brief managers, leaders and HR representatives on policy specifics. 
  • Recruit managers and leaders who are willing to publicly display their support of Covid-19 vaccination and the company’s policy. 
  • Arm managers with answers to common FAQs and concerns and other key talking points and resources.
3. Connect With and Engage Employees
  • Use trusted communication channels to deliver messages about policy specifics to employees. 
  • Segment audiences to target specific employee populations (i.e. employees who travel or commute, those who are at a higher-risk, etc.)
  • Continuously gather employee feedback through one-on-one meetings, surveys, digital focus groups, etc., throughout the vaccination process (before, during and after). 


Evolve, Adapt and Keep Communicating 

As much as the term “new normal” has become the buzzword of an “unprecedented” 2021, it appears that the workplace we knew before the Covid-19 pandemic is a thing of the past (at least for now). 


Forward-looking employers who want to keep their employees safe are evolving their return-to-work strategies and adapting as they go. Whether you’re implementing vaccination mandates or encouraging employees to make the best possible decision for their health, a clear, consistent and empathetic communication strategy is the key to moving forward and making sure everyone is on board. 


Tags: Employee Communications, HR Communications, Employee Engagement, Human Resources, internal communications, communication strategy, Employee Marketing, wellness, COVID, 2022

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