How to talk to your team about the COVID-19 vaccine rollout

As the COVID-19 vaccine rollout draws closer, it brings with it a number of questions for employers.

In this article, we’re looking at internal communications – how you talk to your team about the rollout and limit the spread of misinformation. You can read our article on employment law and the COVID-19 vaccine here. 


Comment provided by Meg Jones from The Shine Collective. 

Indication from Government and the current legislative requirements under the Health & Safety Act and the Bill of Rights Act mean there isn’t going to be any hard and fast rule for any employer regarding vaccination policies – as our legal colleagues have pointed out, there are a number of factors involved.

Regardless, the same communications advice applies to any situation – starting with, all communications should be open, authentic and respectful of values and opinions.

Employers need to start preparing now. Have your policies in place and your communications prepared to explain what’s in your policy and why. If your policy will be compulsory vaccination (depending on your sector), you need to factor in the necessary legislated consultation with your teams.

When putting a communications plan in place, start with thinking about the people who will be receiving the information. Ask yourself, how they will best absorb the information?  

For one of our clients whose team is spread across many different locations, one solution has been to have printed information included in their timesheets – in multiple languages. The same messages are delivered by team leaders in staff meetings, provided on posters in tea rooms, and provided to union delegates.

Limiting the spread of misinformation is imperative – the multiple touch points for each communication helps to really hone those key messages. Keep your language simple and don’t bamboozle people with science or large words. Provide supporting links so that people can find out more.

How to communicate about COVID-19

Given the sensitivity of the topic, you also need to be prepared that there are going to be a variety of opinions. Open up two-way communication channels to allow staff the privacy, space and time to ask the questions they need to in order to make an informed decision.

If your industry requires compulsory vaccination, you might want to offer education sessions with health providers to talk about the science behind the vaccine. It also goes back to having multiple touch points. To educate and build confidence in the vaccine, you need to have multiple sources of consistent information while ensuring the information is accessible for all.

Authenticity will always go a long way. Leaders and managers who are authentic in their communication to staff (recognising that it may be sensitive for some) and who offer an open door policy to talk will also provide additional levels of assurance.

The Shine Collective is a strategic communications and marketing consultancy with a reputation for quality, expert advice and exceptional results. They’re physically based in Tauranga and Rotorua, and work with clients across multiple sectors all around New Zealand and Australia.

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