COVID numbers have been dropping for weeks, but that doesn’t mean the pandemic is over. In some cities, masks are to be worn indoors except when eating or drinking. Many workplaces still require proof of vaccination. We’ve whipped up a handy guide for employers looking to keep employees safe by staying CDC compliant with the vaccine mandate.
But first, what are the current rules and guidelines? They change so frequently, so where do things stand right now?
CDC Workplace Guidelines and The Vaccine Mandate
Not every COVID-curbing rule is upheld—or enforced—in every part of the country. For example, southern states are far more relaxed about these guidelines than cities and states in the Pacific Northwest, New England, and parts of the Midwest. That said, there are things you can do to keep your employees safe regardless of where you are headquartered.
Depending on the nature (online or brick and mortar), size (small, mid-sized, or large), and industry of your company, you may need to adjust these guidelines to fit your business’s needs the comply with the vaccine mandate.
Do Your Research, Be Aware of Industry Trends
The very first thing you need to do to ensure that you are staying on top of the pandemic procedure is to look at who is doing what in response to which government mandates. Knowing the trending responses to the mandate will inform how you follow—or how you move against the grain. If you feel your competitors are responding inadequately, then you can use it as an opportunity to lead by example.
If your company does fall in an industry where the vaccine mandate is more vital and government scrutiny is more intense, here are some basic things you can do/offer to drive up the numbers of vaccinated employees.
Incentivize Employees To Get Vaccinated
Many big-name companies are going this route. In the wake of President Biden’s vaccine mandate, Spirit AeroSystems offered $100 checks to employees who get vaccinated, as well as two free hours of PTO to go get their shots. Other companies are simply making it required to retain employment. In August, Tyson Foods announced that all of its employees needed to be vaccinated by November 1.
The overall effectiveness of these approaches has varied from business to business. The bottom line is to let employees know that you are working on solutions and assure them that you are doing the best you can to find a solution.
Weekly COVID Testing
If your employee refuses to get the shot for health or religious reasons, then weekly COVID testing is an excellent alternative. Companies hesitant to go all-in on a strict policy can require weekly testing for vaccine-averse workers.
A number of companies have gone this route, with mixed results. The response to these kinds of decisions will always vary. What will matter is your ability to address concerns and help move your company toward a solution, all while fostering stronger communication.
Going Remote When Necessary
This isn’t always possible. Some businesses can’t run without people showing up to the shop or office. In fact, many can’t. But bigger companies with robust internship programs have some wiggle room. Going remote when/where necessary not only reduces the number of people coming and going from the office, but it also encourages managers and executives to build out better remote opportunities for current and future employees. The pandemic has changed the way so many of us work, and this is just the beginning.
Even more specifically, beefing up remote internship opportunities is another tactic businesses can take to avoid exposure and lean harder into the future of talent acquisition. As stated earlier, the thinking behind moves such as this is simple: The fewer people who come into the office every day, the better. This way, you can keep good internship/freelance programs running without worrying about a crowded workplace. This may not be possible depending on your industry but explore it with other managers. Don’t dismiss it prematurely and go the route that’s safe and prudent.
As an owner/manager/leader of a company, it is your responsibility to create a safe, lawful, and friendly internal culture that encourages open communication and works hard to ensure its employees feel valued and protected.