Vaccine Management in the Workplace: A Roadmap for Business Leaders

The availability of COVID-19 vaccines is welcome news. Organizations will need to develop vaccine management solutions to plan for, track, and report on vaccine status for their workforces.

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In response to the pandemic, organizations made massive shifts in the workplace, updated operating models, and found new ways to sustain operations, so the availability of COVID-19 vaccines is welcome news. At the same time, how to manage vaccines poses new questions and requirements. Organizations worldwide are racing to create policies, processes, and programs for vaccine management, reporting, and distribution. 

Ensuring employees are vaccinated against COVID-19, or even facilitating those vaccinations, will provide much-needed protection against virus transmission and help organizations ensure the health and safety of remote and on-site workers. Organizations large and small are working to understand what they need to manage around vaccines and how to support emerging and ever-changing requirements. 

Cross-functional teams, including facilities management, human resources (HR), benefits, medical advisors, and executive management will need to formulate the right approach for each organization. Like so much that’s been required during the pandemic response, there’s no defined playbook. Health and residential care organizations are helping define the approach as they administer the first wave of vaccines, with a growing consensus around a handful of must-have capabilities, including visibility, scenario planning, communication, support, and validation and reporting. 

Gain Visibility Into Your Workforce and Workplace Needs

To formulate a plan, leaders first need a clear picture of the landscape. Visibility into multiple workforce and workplace factors that impact vaccine roll-out is the starting point for an effective vaccine management initiative. Externally, organizations need access to up-to-date data about local and regional availability of vaccines and expectations for delivery, as well as potentially understanding the current state of community spread. This information is also critical to help HR leaders protect the health and safety of their workforce and workplace. 

Internally, the team also needs visibility into workforce characteristics such as risk level and the urgency of vaccinating certain types of workers. Other dimensions include employee sentiment around receiving a vaccine, sharing personal vaccination information with their employer, and any considerations they have around returning to a physical workplace. 

Plan for Likely Scenarios

With data in hand, organizations can start to model different scenarios for how the pace of workforce vaccination will impact other aspects of the physical environment. The rate of vaccination can impact demand for office space, availability of an in-person skilled workforce, or need for personal protective equipment (PPE) and cleaning services. These scenarios need to be flexible enough to account for regional considerations, government-sponsored vaccine directives, and worker expectations. 

HR leaders will also want to model scenarios for the impact of vaccination roll-out on employee sentiment, including people’s willingness to return to the office or campus. Taking a broad view of all the factors that impact both vaccine management and return to the workplace can inform leadership discussions and provide the agility to pivot as needed if conditions or sentiment changes.

Ensuring that your organization has a solid approach to vaccine management will ensure a successful process.

Communicate With and Support the Workforce

Once an organization has assessed the landscape and built a plan, the focus should shift to bolstering worker health and well-being through communications and support. The appropriate team members from HR, benefits, or employee health and safety will have to develop a scalable and regionally tailored process of continuous communications around topics, including company policies, health and safety guidance, adherence to multi-dose vaccine recommendations, where and how to get the vaccine (if applicable), and even scheduling and reminders. 

Given the complexity of the vaccine rollout and how vaccinations impact the ability to return to the workplace, a well-designed communications plan is imperative. It’s also important to ensure that workers aren’t overwhelmed with communications. Workers will be looking for individually relevant information that is clear, specific, and timely. HR teams should start with outreach to the workforce on COVID-19 policies, guidance for workers on how to securely report on their health status, essential worker or workplace updates, and any additional information. 

Even with the best-laid communications plan, workers are sure to have questions that will require individualized answers. Part of the communications plan needs to define the HR service delivery process for providing support for workers when they have questions or need more personalized assistance. Beyond specific questions about the vaccine and requirements, consider likely COVID-19 or vaccine-related issues like new types of leave, reimbursements, systems access, or even telehealth options.

HR leaders should use the insights they have about the workforce, the workplace, and the external environment to create personalized journeys for employees. For example, there could be localized recommendations on where and how to get the vaccine, based on whether an employee has securely self-reported their personalized vaccination status. These journeys can also include broader health information on vaccines, well-being, mental health, and new benefits—allowing workers to get the resources, health, and well-being support they need during challenging times. A similar approach can be taken to recommend resources and next steps for workers who self-report that they’ve contracted COVID-19, in a secure and automated way.

Tracking and Reporting Vaccination Status

Many, if not all, organizations will need a way to securely track vaccination status. In industries that will require workers to have the vaccine to perform their jobs or be on-site, vaccine validation and reporting takes on additional importance. 

Organizations need a way to support vaccine attestation and report on that information for internal use or to fulfill government validation and compliance requirements. Exacerbating the challenge, the data required for driving attestation or reporting on compliance may reside in various systems or spreadsheets, so it needs to be combined and connected to other data to meet reporting requirements. 

Workers need a way to securely self-attest their health status—including whether they’ve been vaccinated, when the doses were administered, and which vaccine they’ve received—in a way that protects their privacy. 

All of this data should also be fed back into the planning scenarios for each organization. This allows real-time decisions based on current conditions, and can help make determinations on allowing individual workers back into the workplace or modeling capacity for a given site, building, or floor. 

HR leaders will also want to model scenarios for the impact of vaccination roll-out on employee sentiment, including people’s willingness to return to the office or campus.

Workday’s Vaccine Management Solution

Building on existing solutions for helping organizations return to the workplace, Workday is adding comprehensive vaccine management solutions to allow customers to quickly and securely address vaccine-related efforts and bolster employee health and safety for remote and on-site workers. 

The solution uses capabilities from multiple Workday products to deliver a complete vaccine management approach. Building on the robust worker data that’s available in Workday Human Capital Management, the solution leverages the ability to plan multiple scenarios in Workday Adaptive Planning, the advanced reporting capabilities of Workday Prism Analytics, and the communications and case management capabilities of Workday Learning, Help, and Assistant. Customers can also use the flexible configuration options in their Workday tenant to optimize the solution for their specific situation, or even use Workday Extend to build additional application capabilities within the secure framework of Workday.

Customers are already using Workday to plan for their return to the workplace and plan for and manage vaccine-related issues. Here are a few examples of what’s possible.

  • For the past several years, a large health system has used a flu vaccine tracker for its clinical population built in Workday. By adding fields and data objects to Workday, they developed a role and location-specific view of their workforce. With this visibility they can identify specific types of caregivers on specific floors or in departments and track their vaccination status. They’re now adding to this vaccine tracker to help manage the roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines. Combining information from the tracker with vaccine availability and need, they’re now able to prioritize groups of workers for vaccination. The organization can also monitor vaccination status in Workday, noting first and second dose, then use that information to drive communications and scheduling as well as support regulatory reporting.

  • A large technology company assembled a cross-functional team to manage reopening its offices, with vaccine management being a key component. Although the company won’t administer vaccines, it does want to prepare the workforce to receive the vaccine through whatever channel is available locally, understand the vaccine status in each region, and carefully manage on-site return to ensure a safe and healthy environment. To communicate with employees, the team is augmenting traditional broadcast messaging with personal Journeys in Workday that lead to knowledge articles and learning content to shepherd employees through the vaccine process. They added vaccine availability to their back-to-office dashboard to track percent of workforce vaccinated by site or region (through employee self reporting), estimated herd immunity date, and progress toward their goals of vaccinating a critical mass of employees. 

  • Another large healthcare organization was acutely aware of the need for widespread vaccination among not only clinicians but all staff. The team rolled out a worker sentiment survey to understand how receptive workers are to the vaccines, what objections they may have, and the likelihood of accepting the vaccine. Armed with this information, the team was able to develop the organization’s strategy, address critical issues, and more effectively support employees as they entered the vaccination process.

Widespread vaccines mark a major turning point in the pandemic. Ensuring that your organization has a solid approach to vaccine management will ensure a successful process, with informed employees, a flexible plan, and the visibility into progress that the leadership team needs to make decisions around bringing people back to the workplace and to report externally as required. 

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