Addressing Trust Issues When it Comes to Vaccines

Employer’s role in the vaccine rollout starts with communications.

February 05, 2021

When workplace pandemic response first kicked into high gear, communication was one of the six key components of the SAFER framework, and for good reason. Clear communication in any crisis or challenging situation is imperative. In those early months of COVID-19, employees and safety professionals faced an uphill battle in figuring out how they could continue to do their jobs safely when a century-defining virus was rewriting the very definition of “safety”.  

The SAFER framework – supported by proven playbooks and learnings from Fortune 500 companies, public health experts and government entities – recommended that companies take pains to communicate clearly and frequently to support employee trust. Surveys also indicated that overall, employees trusted their companies and safety leaders to make the right decisions when it came to their safety and returning to work. Getting beyond COVID will require employers to continue communicating clearly and frequently, including around the vaccines.  

The approved COVID-19 vaccines provide a welcome light at the end of the tunnel. But even at the current rate of 1 million doses each day, the effort presents huge logistical and communications challenges. Trust will be essential for us to gain widespread acceptance for the vaccines and willingness to get them once they are widely available. 

This is where employers play a critical role once again. We have 157 million people in the U.S. workforce. We know employer messages and actions make a huge difference, especially when it comes to safety. Taking a clear approach from the top will help alleviate anxiety and boost confidence in the rollout effort. 

That’s why NSC has been urging employers to support the vaccine, develop a vaccination plan for their workforce, and encourage eligible employees to get vaccinated by providing time off and sharing credible information.

Many employers have questions about privacy, incentives and vaccine requirements, and these are just beginning to be addressed. However, vaccines are a critical component of our long-term economic and social recovery. They are a potential lifeline for millions of unemployed workers, hundreds of thousands of small businesses and all those impacted by the financial fallout from the pandemic.

Widespread vaccination will not bring about the end of COVID-19 – at least not immediately. In the near-term, we will still need to take common sense precautions such as mask-wearing and social distancing. But if employers respond comprehensively and effectively, we can help ensure people continue to trust the information and resources they receive from their employer. 

It all begins with ongoing, clear communications.

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