It’s more than a simple, yes or no.
Contributor: Kathryn Freeman, NCG Business Coach & Director of Operations
Should I / Can I require my employees to be vaccinated? You might look at that question and think there are only 2 ways to answer, yes or no. We would say – it’s not so simple.
As business coaches, we at Nolan Consulting Group are often called upon to weigh in on and assist business owners with complicated decisions. This particular issue ranks very high on the list of complications. In its broader scale, it is about customer confidence, it is about culture, it is about personal domain.
On a purely technical level, you can, as an employer, expect your employees to get vaccinated, as long as you are complying with workplaces laws like the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) or Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This would allow for someone to be exempt from getting a vaccination based on decisions including health conditions or religious freedoms. Be aware of and responsive to your employees. Also, be sure you are looking for any local or state laws that might also have an impact.
The real question, the complicated component to consider, is how will this impact your culture? This is not the time to radically change your leadership style or how you communicate with your team. How do you run your business now? Do you expect your crew leaders to be personally responsible for setting up crews? Are your employees encouraged to problem solve with customers? Coming out with a firm directive, “Get Vaccinated or else” may run counter to culture that you have taken years to develop.
On the other hand, if you are actively engaged in their health and well being, by monitoring gym memberships or doctors visits, encouraging them to get vaccinated or providing them with PTO to do so, may actually coincide with your culture. It is OK to ask if they have received or intend to get vaccinated. Should someone decline to respond, do not push any further, this is where you can step into violating workplace laws. Listening to the concerns of your employees in either case may help you to determine your stance.
But don’t forget your customers.
I am hearing of customers asking, “are your employees vaccinated?” A sticky wicket for sure! This is where getting your sales team prepared with a list of scripted and appropriate responses can be instrumental to answering that question:
- “We practice all CDC required Covid Protocols”
- “Our exterior project crew will work solely outside and will require no contact with your family”
- ”We are careful about our crew make-up, if this is important to you, we can look to accommodate you”
These are all responses that are not a yes or no, but are a directive to get to the QBQ (the question behind the question): Will your employees transmit Covid to my family/employees/customers?
No matter your personal position on the vaccination process, this will likely be something you encounter and will have to think about in the near future. Before making a quick decision, weigh the impact on your culture and your customers. Talk to your employees like a person, not their boss, to help create a decision of perspective.
All the best,