by Matt Barkett

October 13, 2021

Vaccine mandate deadlines are arriving, and we are starting to see some of the fallout. Hundreds of employees at United Airlines have been fired for noncompliance. Hospital systems and schools are facing staffing shortages with a complicated flu season approaching. Numerous stories are appearing about active vaccine resistance among labor unions. And we’re still left to wonder what is yet to come with the federal government mandate looming in December.

As my colleague Amy McGahan noted in her blog on this topic last month, vaccine mandates remain a complex and controversial issue. Vaccination rates have steadily increased since the FDA gave full approval in August, paving the way for mandates across the country in organizations of every size and in any sector.

Effective communication by any organization enacting a mandate, establishing a deadline and sticking to possible consequences of noncompliance is a critical success factor in navigating this part of the crisis. Make sure to:

  • Provide regular updates to employees about an approaching deadline and ways they need to demonstrate compliance via a vaccine card or submitting to regular testing, if you allow that option.
  • Establish and maintain guidance on the use of masks in the workplace as many employees return to indoor workspaces while vaccine mandates are still being enacted and some employees are not yet fully vaccinated.
  • Understand the constantly changing political and regulatory environment that has made confusion and inconsistency the norm when providing guidance. When things change, be ready to communicate what it means to your organization’s policies.
  • Stick to your policies. Don’t waver on vaccine mandates as deadlines draw near just because the debate gets louder. Do what you believe is right and focus on your business.

And to that last point, business is ongoing – and thriving in many sectors – despite vaccine debates, staffing challenges, supply chain bottlenecks and a constantly changing definition of the workplace. Meeting challenges and taking advantage of growth opportunities is still the lifeblood of any business. Effective communication can help employees and customers adjust to the new normal and successfully move businesses forward regardless of how the marketplace (and medical advice) evolves in the months ahead.