COVID vaccine bottle hero

Linking COVID-19 Vaccinations To Workforce Well-Being Offers Advantages

To encourage … or to require? A new survey by the Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp) found that employers are far more comfortable with encouraging (68%) employees to receive the COVID-19 vaccine once it’s widely available than they are requiring inoculation (5%).  

Having settled on encouragement, organizations have answered a core question. But that opens another: How to encourage? 

Providing employees with information about the vaccine and its merits is the leading strategy companies report that they are already deploying (and plan to continue) to promote vaccination. 

The other top tactic for encouraging vaccination among a half-dozen asked about in the survey is clearly linking vaccination to employee well-being programs.  

Almost three in 10 respondents—29%—said that connecting vaccination to workforce well-being programs is a strategy they’ve already implemented or plan to; another 51% said their organizations are considering it.  

Well-being programs can strengthen outcomes

 For much of the past year, i4cp has explored workforce well-being and organizations’ efforts to optimize it. Our research has bridged pre-and-post-COVID timeframes (Next Practices in Holistic Well-Being: The Performance Advantage and Before and After: Effects of the Pandemic on Workforce Well-Being and Employer Healthcare Plans), and we’ve published many case studies, articles, infographics, and blogs on specific well-being topics.

Consistently, our findings reveal that companies with effective well-being programs report healthier employees, stronger workplace cultures, lower benefits costs, higher levels of workforce engagement, and many other outcomes that drive better business results, individual productivity, and organizational performance.

Including efforts to encourage and facilitate vaccinations under the umbrella of employee well-being makes sense and stands to strengthen outcomes in multiple ways. A few examples:

  • Accountability. Well-being programming typically falls under the responsibilities of Total Rewards, HR, or other senior talent leaders who provide oversight and are accountable for producing agreed-on results. Those same leaders can help create and guide vaccination programs or encouragement campaigns for organizations. 
  • Consistency. Companies’ well-being programs are structured around formal policies that ensure consistency in program content, implementation, eligibility, communication, and other factors. That structure can provide the same consistency in vaccination-related efforts. 
  • Senior-leader support and role-models. i4cp research identified active program participation and support by senior leaders as important contributors to success in organizational well-being programs. Applying similar leader behaviors to encourage employees to get COVID-19 vaccinations is likely to bolster that strategy as well. 
  • Credibility. For various reasons, many people are distrustful of COVID-19 vaccinations (or even vaccinations in general). Linking vaccination efforts to established and accepted organizational well-being programs can add credibility that helps overcome resistance and gain vaccination buy-in. 
  • Resources – Linking vaccination campaigns to employee well-being programs can open access to resources that range from experienced well-being professionals, to proven communications strategies, to educational materials (about such things as flu vaccines) that can be quickly adapted to answer questions and alleviate fears about vaccines. Not only can that linkage heighten efficiency and speed timelines, it can save costs, too (production time for communication materials, staff time to create new items/procedures vs simply adapting what is already on hand, etc.). 

Obviously, tapping into an organization’s existing well-being programs and the know-how of the experienced professionals who design, deploy, and manage them can provide a powerful shot in the arm (pun intended!) for campaigns to encourage COVID-19 vaccinations. 

One in four business leaders i4cp surveyed confirmed that they are already adapting their current well-being materials or plan to, and about one in five said they are or will press organizational leaders into service as role models or advocates for COVID-19 vaccinations. 

Read more about the role of company leaders in encouraging vaccinations in Getting Personal About the COVID-19 Vaccination: How Leaders Make a Difference.

Carol Morrison
Carol Morrison is a Senior Research Analyst and Associate Editor with the Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp), specializing in workforce well-being research.