Mandatory Vaccines (or Not)

The current question that crosses my desk almost daily is “Can I require my employees to be vaccinated?”

The short answer is, “yes.”

The long answer is “it depends.”

The impact of COVID on our lives and future is still evolving.  How our nation, large businesses, small businesses, nonprofits, and individuals respond to the ever-changing environment will continue to change over time.

Here is my 4-point checklist of considerations when making rules, policies, or requirements for employees or the public:

(1) Be flexible – The answer is rarely black-and-white and you will always find an exception to your rule.  Don’t make policies or rules that paint yourself into a box.

(2) Don’t be afraid to change your mind as information changes.  We know a lot more today than we did a year ago.  Imagine how much more we will know next year?  New information can support changes, and you should be prepared to change to benefit your employees, your customers, and yourself.

(3) Consider the unintended consequences of your choices.  You may lose employees (or customers) because of your decisions.  You have to assume that your world, your employee base, and your ability to run your business will not return to pre-2020 levels.  Can you afford those potential losses?  Which is worse – the consequences of the change, or the failure to change?

(4)  Consider the reaction (and feelings) of the people who are affected by your decision.  While you may need to make an unpopular decision or enforce an unpopular policy, it is important to manage the human response to those decisions.  Use a carrot whenever possible, and try to limit the use of a stick.

For two excellent articles regarding vaccine mandates and employees, check out Blue Avocado:

We Can Require Employees to Receive the COVID 19 Vaccine – But Should We?

How do I Navigate Requests for Religious Exemptions from a Requirement to Receive the COVID 19 Vaccine?