Employers key role in Australia’s COVID-19 vaccination path

— Libby Woolnough 

As we enter the next phase of this pandemic that has re-shaped the way we live, work and connect with each other, Australia’s employers, our business leaders across the country, will play one of the most important roles in our COVID-19 vaccination path as a nation.

How employers define their COVID-19 vaccination policy and effectively communicate it to their teams will impact how aware and informed many Australians are and consequently how secure they feel in uncertain times. . How employers communicate at this point could also have a lasting impact on employee engagement, retention and productivity because employees’ ability to thrive, particularly in times of uncertainty, can make or break a business’s reputation.

Navigating this pandemic has forced so much change for many businesses and leaders. The uncertainty and isolation for many workers have demanded leaders to communicate more candidly and with more empathy to quickly reassure and avoid misinformation. The dynamics of the employer/employee relationship have changed – probably forever. Now, leaders must adopt these lessons and apply them in the next phase in this pandemic.

As the vaccination program continues over the coming months, CEOs across our nation can use this moment in time as an opportunity to strengthen employee engagement by being a trusted source of information. Now is the time to consider relevant workforce implications of the vaccination drive, refine company policy on employee health and well-being, pre-empt and consider employee questions, and engage with employees by proactively communicating to cultivate clarity in the face of the unknown.

Vaccination is a personal decision and it is not an employer’s role to advocate either way. It is the employers’ role to be a trusted source of information for employees to help them make the right decision for themselves and their families.

The landscape is moving quickly, and staying on top of current and relevant information will be critical to keeping your employees, customers and suppliers safe. However, there is more to consider than simply how the vaccine is rolled out – have you considered:

  • How prepared is your organisation to communicate to your employees about what the program means for them, to allay fears and reassure them with informed facts and content?
  • How will you respond to questions and concerns from employees and clients?
  • How prepared are you to use this moment in history to be an industry leader and engage your staff more than ever?
  • How – or will – you communicate your policy with other stakeholders, including shareholders and consumers, who are all demanding more transparency and social integrity from organisations?


How WE can help you cultivate clarity in the face of the unknown

The unique combination of our global scientific engagement team with our expert corporate and health communicators, who have decades of collective experience in the vaccine space, means WE can work with you to create bespoke COVID-19 vaccine employee engagement programs, which leverage best practice from around the world and here in Australia and can help you ensure this moment is an opportunity for your business. 

We can help you navigate this next phase in employee communications to ensure you are mitigating risk and maximising employee engagement with the following support:

  • Define your company policy and build the narrative, aligned to your business purpose, to communicate it effectively.
  • Strengthen employee engagement by helping you to understand the “COVID-coaster” of emotion of fear and confusion, the need for security and control, and revisiting and expanding the ways you’re listening to employees to understand their unique fears and needs.
  • Educate and reassure employees with tailored fact sheets without hype or bias.
  • Develop employee communication campaigns to ensure the right messages are communicated with a multi-channel approach from internal newsletters and emails, to interactive team training sessions, scripts for town hall meetings and the development of critical incident protocols.


Libby Woolnough is Head of Corporate Melbourne at WE Communications Australia

Read more about how to harness employee passion to fuel company purpose 

Contact: Libby Woolnough, Head of Corporate, Melbourne