Trust is Heart of Workplace Vaccine Discussions

Trust is Heart of Workplace Vaccine Discussions

Dec. 22, 2020
The success of pandemic policies will depend on the strength of the employer-employee relationship.

With the arrival of vaccinations for COVID-19, a new set of issues arise as companies contemplate workplace policies.

While the issues may be new, how employers handle this isn’t, according to Gary Pearce, chief risk architect at Aclaimant, a workflow solution for safety and risk management company.

“When you look at any organization there is an existing relationship between the company and the employees with regard to trust," explains Pearce. “And that's the accumulation of a lot of experiences and impressions and attitudes which creates this culture.”

It’s this solid relationship that will determine the success of creating policies to deal with the pandemic and any other issues that will arise. “Having a favorable relationship with one's own workforce is arguably of greater importance than ever before,” says Pearce. “As we evaluate this issue of mandatory vaccinations and the return to work process or how the workforce will change next year, it's not a new situation we're walking into but adapting a new challenge to an existing situation.”

And one of the areas that will need a lot of attention is how companies will be coming back to the office and the associated risks this involves. “While right now we are very dependent on remote work, I think that soon we will return to a more traditional working environment,” says Pearce. “And even in industries where remote work was impossible, there's still going to be an attitudinal, cultural and even a legal shift as we move forward.”

Pearce believes the legal aspect will ramp up once we are past dealing with the day-to-day concerns of the pandemic. He sees an increased willingness on the part of employees to pursue legal remedies. This will arise from higher expectations of safety standards. People will look to their employers, generally a trusted source of information, to protect them. “The issue of safety and ensuring the safety of a workplace will not be something that is nice to have but it will be a must have,” says Pearce. And Pearce warns that if employees feel this is missing they might be willing to pursue remedies which could include regulatory complaints or even take to social media to air grievances.

At the end of the day, says Pearce, the workforce needs to believe that the employer is doing the right things, having balanced the needs of the organization, the safety of the employees, and the expectations of the customers.

“This success of managing the vaccination, and other issues related to COVID-19 will be achieved through an ongoing dialogue based on trust,” says Pearce

Best Practices for Planning

Given all of these issues, Pearce advises companies address employees' concerns through constant communication.

“You don't communicate with just one message,” says Pearce. “It needs to be ongoing.  As we look at all these developments on the vaccination front, for example, there's a lot of science involved and not all employees are really up to the task. I think it's going to be common for employees to look to trusted sources for information, and like it or not that employer needs to be a trusted source. If they aren’t, they're going to have an employment relationship issues.”

About the Author

Adrienne Selko | Senior Editor

Focus: Workforce, Talent 

Follow Me on Twitter: @ASelkoIW

Bio: Adrienne Selko has written about many topics over the 17 years she has been with the publication and currently focuses on workforce development strategies. Previously Adrienne was in corporate communications at a medical manufacturing company as well as a large regional bank. She is the author of Do I Have to Wear Garlic Around My Neck? which made the Cleveland Plain Dealer's best sellers list. She is also a senior editor at Material Handling & Logistics and EHS Today

Editorial mission statement: Manufacturing is the enviable position of creating products, processes and policies that solve the world’s problems. When the industry stepped up to manufacture what was necessary to combat the pandemic, it revealed its true nature. My goal is to showcase the sector’s ability to address a broad range of workforce issues including technology, training, diversity & inclusion, with a goal of enticing future generations to join this amazing sector.

Why I find manufacturing interesting: On my first day working for a company that made medical equipment such as MRIs, I toured the plant floor. On every wall was a photo of a person, mostly children. I asked my supervisor why this was the case and he said that the work we do at this company has saved these people’s lives. “We never forget how important our work is and everyone’s contribution to that.” From that moment on I was hooked on manufacturing.

I have talked with many people in this field who have transformed their own career development to assist others. For example, companies are hiring those with disabilities, those previously incarcerated and other talent pools that have been underutilized. I have talked with leaders who have brought out the best in their workforce, as well as employees doing their best work while doing good for the world. 

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