Navigating uncharted waters has become familiar to human resources leaders. While HR practitioners have long played a strategic and influential role in companies, their responsibilities have expanded to include new dynamics brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Whether it’s helping the workforce navigate caregiving challenges or feelings of anxiousness, they’ve leaned into the human side of their namesake with unprecedented agility and responsiveness.
Now, roughly two years after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, HR leaders are still the primary drivers for instituting workplace change to meet requirements of this new world of work. They’re continuing to focus on solving complex workforce issues, including how to create a safe workplace for those who are required to be on-site or are returning for the first time, and what will be required in each role, location, and geography. One of the most pressing issues is vaccine management—the method by which employers collect and document the vaccination status of their workforces to fulfill internal or regulatory requirements.
HR leaders need to treat vaccine management as a critical initiative in adapting to a workplace for the new world of work and account for all that it entails.
Vaccine policies aren’t just a simple accounting of tracking vaccine status—they’ve become a complex set of ever-changing requirements that vary locally, nationally, and globally. And policies change as conditions change, sometimes overnight. For instance, as new COVID-19 variants such as omicron emerge, government entities are quick to issue travel restrictions, state of emergency orders, or other guidelines.
Vaccine management solutions built on Workday have delivered the responsiveness and insight that HR leaders need. Using Workday Human Capital Management (HCM), Workday Extend, or Workday Prism Analytics, Workday customers have the flexibility to select the approach that works best based on their “compliance profile.” In other words, each customer’s approach to compliance is unique and depends on a variety of factors, such as how they interpret certain legal obligations, the organization's risk tolerance, and the practical way the company operates, just to name a few. As a result, Workday customers can have a vaccine management system adaptable to the policies and procedures of their organizations, enabling them to move forward amid the ever-evolving nature of the pandemic.
Vaccine requirements and guidance will likely be in a state of continuous change for the foreseeable future, and companies of all sizes have already created their workplace vaccination policies. By the end of this year, a majority of U.S. companies were expected to institute some degree of vaccine requirements or mandates, according to a survey conducted by global advisory firm Willis Towers Watson.
Globally, a handful of countries have issued national vaccine mandates, and a growing number of countries have made COVID-19 vaccines compulsory for specific groups of people, such as health workers, high-risk groups, and public servants. Companies that don’t fall into those sectors are still having to consider the best course of action for their organization.
Employers have cited several reasons for being compelled to create a vaccine policy ahead of a government mandate: the increase of vaccine availability, trying to curb a potential surge of COVID-19 variants, the need to help ensure employee and customer safety, and staying in compliance with regulations issued by the locality of their workplaces or respective industry.
While some organizations may choose to wait for clarity from government entities, others are creating policies in advance of mandates. Either way, one thing has become very clear: HR leaders need to treat vaccine management as a critical initiative in adapting to a workplace for the new world of work. That includes accounting for all that it entails: tracking vaccination status and exceptions, COVID-19 test tracking, and ensuring privacy and security of this sensitive information, just to name a few.
Due to changing guidance and laws around COVID-19, some employers have taken a wait-and-see approach toward creating a workplace vaccine policy. But some working in specific sectors, such as healthcare, education, and government, have needed to stay in step with new requirements.
Take government entities, for example: In August 2021, an emergency proclamation by the state of Hawaii required state and county employees to either be vaccinated or go through weekly COVID-19 testing. As a result, government workplaces had 11 days to show they could collect and verify vaccination and track weekly testing.
Capturing all your workforce data in one place, including test tracking and proof of vaccination, is critical to any successful vaccine management solution. But data is not always captured in one single system.
The County of Maui—a Workday customer—rolled out its vaccine management program in just six days. Maui County’s rapid implementation was made possible through packaged vaccine management solutions available in Workday HCM, which were developed through collaboration with other Workday users in Workday Community (login required). Maui County configured its Workday HCM system to enable employees to upload proof of their vaccination, track weekly testing, and allow authorized users, including legal and benefit partners, to view or modify data. Five days after Maui County implemented its vaccine management program, approximately 1,800 employees had uploaded their vaccination status in Workday.
“Much appreciation to Workday staff and customers who contributed to the vaccine management area in Workday Community,” says Dave Underwood, director of personnel, County of Maui. “That really helped us get this off the ground.”
The city and county government of Denver, Colorado—another Workday customer—also needed to quickly implement a vaccine management system that demonstrated compliance with a local public health order issued August 2 requiring all government personnel to be fully vaccinated by September 30. The city and county of Denver has 12,400 employees.
By August 6—four days after the public health order was issued—the City and County of Denver rolled out the initial step in Workday HCM for employees to attest vaccination status. Roughly 20% of employees uploaded their vaccination documentation on the first day.
“We had a 99.1% [vaccine attestation] compliance by the deadline, which speaks to how easy the process was, how quickly we launched the initial task, and how well the Workday solution worked for us,” says Chris Longshore, director of HR technology and innovation with the City and County of Denver. “Compare and contrast what we did, what others have done, and Workday’s packaged solutions, and it is really cool to see how you can accomplish things in a multitude of different ways using Workday.”
The contributions in the Workday Community have been vital to the development of vaccine management capabilities. And the core capabilities in Workday HCM related to vaccine management and workplace test tracking are continuing to grow alongside the evolving regulatory requirements. It’s why Workday HCM has been able to deliver business continuity even as vaccine mandate requirements continue to evolve.
Creating a vaccination policy is one thing. Having a system to support it—and then deploying that system quickly while keeping it adaptable to changing legislation—is quite another challenge.
Such was the case for the University of Pennsylvania. With the availability of vaccines and a return to campus ahead, the university needed a way to track vaccination status for the new academic year.
“We also knew that our requirements were going to be changing rapidly, sometimes daily,” says Christopher Blickley, director of Workday operations at University of Pennsylvania. “We really needed to have the flexibility to account for future enhancements.”
University of Pennsylvania, already a Workday HCM user, purchased a subscription to Workday Extend, the app development platform for building, deploying, and managing new apps that run within Workday HCM, Workday Financial Management, and Workday Student.
Using Workday Extend app catalog templates and other resources available in the Workday Extend developer portal, as well as the contributions from Workday users in Workday Community, the university developed, tested, and deployed a vaccine management solution. Staff members designed a self-reporting interface that was easy for all employees to navigate. The app captures additional vaccine data—recording vaccine reporting by individual dosages and attaching a date to each dose—allowing the university to confidently use the data for reporting and integration with other systems. They leveraged the built-in security domain, but also added custom security domains to ensure that only authorized users could see the data, to meet the unique needs of their privacy office.
HR leaders will need to look at vaccine management solutions that not only enable them with agility, responsiveness, and insight, but also to become drivers of the business.
University of Pennsylvania’s vaccine management application rolled out in 30 days. “Thousands of people used it on desktop and mobile devices to enter their data within the first week of use,” Blickley says.
And the simplicity of the app didn’t come at the cost of flexibility, he says. “It probably would have taken longer if we had more complex requirements. But this really met our needs because we delivered and met all the requirements in a short period of time.”
Workday certified partners are also utilizing Workday Extend to create vaccine management apps and solutions for customers who may not have the capability or time to build their own. Kainos, a certified Workday Extend partner and global tech company headquartered in the UK, creates and maintains custom vaccine management solutions using Workday Extend.
Capturing all your workforce data in one place, including test tracking and proof of vaccination, is critical to any successful vaccine management solution. But data is not always captured in one single system. Workday Prism Analytics can help companies manage vaccine-related data captured in non-Workday systems, alongside their workforce or HCM data generated in Workday.
For instance, Workday customers who are using third-party systems for vaccine management and test tracking can still conduct reporting and analysis on vaccine-related data using Workday Prism Analytics.
Powered by an intelligent data core, Workday Prism Analytics ingests and transforms non-Workday data and blends it with Workday data, enabling one centralized source for all your key workforce data. With Workday Prism Analytics, companies can build dashboards on these blended datasets in a performant manner, all within the security and flexibility of Workday. For vaccine management, Workday Prism Analytics can be used, among other things, to gain insight into vaccination status or monitor weekly testing of specific job profiles, ingest vaccine status from a third-party tracking system, track badge swipes for contact tracing, or compare data points captured in Workday around sentiment, performance, or attrition with data from third parties, such as a local health data or a non-Workday vaccination status solution.
Vaccine management will likely only become more ingrained as a requirement across industries. As a result, HR leaders will need to look at vaccine management solutions that not only enable them with agility, responsiveness, and insight, but also to become drivers of the business. For instance, they’ll need to partner with their organization's chief information officer to provide a frictionless employee experience and develop a management system that complies with data privacy and audits.
Even amid uncertainty, HR leaders equipped with agile solutions can move forward with certainty that they can develop systems fit for their organizations to adapt and thrive in a changing world.
The information provided here is for informational purposes only and is not intended as legal advice. Customers should always consult their legal counsel regarding compliance-related matters and determine for themselves if the information presented here is applicable to their business needs.