For employers that decide to strongly encourage, rather than mandate, employees get the COVID-19 vaccine, what are the best ways to get more rolled-up sleeves?
When it comes to encouraging safe work practices, training and educating workers are often at the top of the list for effectiveness.
But a Wharton professor of management says for the COVID-19 vaccine, it’s a different story.
Iwan Barankay says, when anti-science, anti-vaccine sentiment is abundant, messages to help raise awareness don’t work.
In an interview on Wharton Business Daily on SiriusXM radio, Barankay said, “We have very little evidence that information really makes a big difference.”
Barankay said some of the anti-vaccine arguments are “crazy.”
“The idea that, if we would give them some evidence from randomized controlled trials, then they would see the light — that’s just not happening,” he said.
What does work?
Instead of an information campaign, Barankay recommends easing access for employees to get the vaccines and applying a bit of social/peer pressure.
Barankay says employers shuld choose employees from diverse backgrounds to get the vaccine and serve as role models for co-workers.
Testimonials, conversations, photos and other types of communication are key.
Example: an email that says, “Hey, I see it’s time for your vaccine. Seventy percent of your colleagues have taken it. Why don’t you?”
Then, help employees find the time to get vaccinated. Larger companies might be able to offer on-site clinics.
If that’s not possible, companies should avoid requiring employees to use sick time to get vaccinated, according to Barankay. Make vaccination part of their workday duties.
Here’s something else that doesn’t work: financial incentives.
Barankay said a decade of government-funded clinical trials in which participants were offered payment for taking medication didn’t work.
In addition to strongly encouraging vaccination, continuing remote work until the pandemic subsides would also help slow the coronavirus spread.
Barankay says there’s no research so far that working from home is any less productive than coming into the workplace.