VACCINATION TESTS THE RELATIONS BETWEEN COMPANIES AND THEIR EMPLOYEES
For companies who have been operating with a general shortage of workforce for years, it has been extremely difficult to organize work during the crisis. But the issue that put employers’ relationships with their employees to test the most, was vaccination.
Of course, the past year has been difficult for everyone, both personally and professionally. However, there is not much thought about how employers have had to change their work organization almost each and every day. Employees were constantly left in self-isolation and on sick leave, there were in-house outbreaks that took entire departments away from work for weeks. However, demand for a company’s service or products was affected differently – it can be said that, for most companies, it remained essentially the same or even increased.
For employers, vaccination is the light shining at the end of the tunnel. It is what everyone is rushing towards.
For employers, vaccination is the light shining at the end of the tunnel. It is what everyone is rushing towards. Businesses are diligently compiling lists of workers who are critical service providers and bombarding the government with the desire to vaccinate as many workers as possible, as a priority.
However, as the Olerex case, which came to the public this week, showed, the desire of workers to get an injection is not nearly as present. So the issue could lead to a huge employment dispute. For employees, this is an extremely personal decision that they are not prepared to make rashly. And even less at the behest of an employer or even the state. We know that not even every person in healthcare agreed to be vaccinated.
The issue of vaccination divided society long before the arrival of the Coronavirus, and there is a skepticism about vaccines. Are you going to have your child vaccinated? That is a question parents don’t even dare to discuss with each other, because even best friends can quickly get into a fight on this topic.
Thus, businesses need to be much more thoughtful and careful in handling the issue of the Coronavirus vaccine, than they might realize at first glance. Neutral information can be shared with employees, and organizing introductions to the topic and discussions, but the final decision belongs, in any case, to the employee.
Companies need to consider, at the board level, whether there are any positions in their company where vaccination is essential. The Estonian legal environment makes it possible to set a qualification requirement to include vaccination, if a risk analysis is done about the work environment of the respective position. Of course, it cannot be ruled out that the termination of employment following the non-compliance of such a requirement may nevertheless reach the court. But preliminary evaluation suggests that such a restriction may be imposed on certain positions.
If the risk of Coronavirus is significant to a business but, for various reasons, making vaccination a qualification requirement is not a good solution, resources should be directed to encourage people to vaccinate themselves. Here, successful internal communication is a combination of informing, compensating, and maintaining relationships.
With thoughtless action it is easy to flush away an employer’s reputation that has been cultivated over many years.
However, it is clear that a company’s actions in this crisis will give employees a clear impression of the values that prevail in the company, and the leaders who run it. And that impression will stay for a long time. With thoughtless action it is easy to flush away an employer’s reputation that has been cultivated over many years.