It’s not news to anyone that personal stories told by
leaders, especially those that reveal vulnerability, garner attention. They are
powerful. We remember them. When we tell our own stories well, we can move and
even influence people.
This approach is an artform for Dan Price, CEO of
Seattle-based Gravity Payments, who gained folk hero status a few years ago
when he announced his plan to pay all of his employees a $70,000 minimum wage—a
figure he determined to be the threshold at which financial stress would be
alleviated—with the added benefit of enabling employees to be more present and
productive at work.
Price, who has been a popular past speaker at the annual i4cp Next Practices Now Conference, has spoken openly about his unconventional childhood and his family’s
financial struggles. So, his stand on paying living wages to employees came
from a very personal place and became part of his company’s story.
He is doing the same with his position on vaccinations—the
COVID-19 vaccination in particular—by making it personal.
Price’s recent pro-vaccine social media
posts (and the strategy behind them) are aligned with data gathered by the Institute for
Corporate Productivity (i4cp) about the COVID-19 vaccination and the
Our recent survey of 211 business professionals found 68%
overall reporting that their companies plan to encourage employees to get
vaccinated once the vaccine is widely available to the public; 19% said that
this is currently being discussed in their organizations.
Among the strategies already in place or currently under
consideration to help encourage vaccination of employees is the essential role
of leadership in pro-vaccine messaging.
Asking leaders to role model by sharing with their
workforces that they have been or plan to be vaccinated is already or will soon
be implemented in 19% of organizations; 57% indicated that this is currently
under consideration; 25% said that this isn’t being discussed at all.
When it comes to the CEO sending out a personal message to
employees about their own plans and encouraging employees to get vaccinated,
18% have already or will soon do so soon; 50% are considering doing this; 32%
reported that said that this isn’t being discussed at all in their
Our research also lines up with insights gathered via a
recent poll of 150 CEOs of the biggest U.S. companies who attended the recent Yale
Chief Executive Leadership Institute Summit. An article
published by Chief Executive in mid-December reported that while 71% of the
CEOs polled said the COVID vaccination should be required at work, most
acknowledged in a follow-up discussion that they had not yet formulated a plan
to do so and would wait and see how the first wave of vaccinations went before
deciding on a policy in their organizations. i4cp’s survey found 41% of respondents
reporting that the question of mandating COVID-19 vaccines for employees once
they become widely available to the public is currently under discussion. Only
5% said that their organizations have decided to require that employees be
vaccinated; 39% do not plan to require a vaccine.
Taking a wait-and-see approach is fairly common—some
comments ranged from “It’s likely to become mandatory in the summer of 2021” to
strict adherence to governmental regulations: “We will follow recent
EEOC guidance and require vaccinations, except as exempted.”
Whatever organizations decide, the impact and role of
leaders at every level of the organization in terms of rolling out
communications is critical. If there is no plan to require vaccinations, but
this may change later on, it’s important to communicate this to employees.
Leaving them in the dark sows more anxiety in an already surreally anxious time.
If your organization is very much in a “we’re still sorting
it out” phase (and the majority are), your leaders should acknowledge this too.
Dan Price has demonstrated in a few simple lines that a big part of effective
leadership is telling genuine stories. Authenticity is powerful, even if the
story (at least for now) is that we just don’t know yet. What will your story