3 Ways Employers Could Help Fight Vaccine Skepticism

Ending the pandemic depends on achieving herd immunity, estimated at 70% or even 80% to 90% of a population. With some 30% of Americans telling pollsters they have no interest in getting vaccinated, that's cutting it a bit close. The numbers are even worse in many other countries. 

In the fight against vaccine skepticism, employers can play a key role. This is not only because it's an important precaution for the health and safety of their employees, but also because a recent survey shows people around the world, including in the U.S., tend to trust their employers more than governments or the media. Moreover, Republicans, who are more likely to say they won't get the vaccine, are also generally much more trusting of business, suggesting employers may be able to have more influence on them than journalists or health experts.

As someone who studies how companies communicate with their employees, I have three research-based tips that can make their efforts more effective. 

1. Building trust with transparency

Although many workers say they trust their employers more than some other institutions, trust erosion has been a prominent global issue. Just 61% of participants in the survey referenced above, conducted by public relations consultancy Edelman, said they trust businesses to do the right thing. 

That's why it's essential for companies to communicate with employees in a way that builds more trust. And research has shown that transparency has been consistently linked to employee relationship with their employer.

By that I mean focus on giving employees the facts – while dispelling some of the myths – and being clear about where it all comes from. There are many ways to disseminate the information, such as through email, flyers, corporate newsletters and social media, but inviting in local health experts is another good way to transparently lay out the facts while also helping skeptical employees get their questions and concerns addressed. 

The 2021 Trust Barometer survey showed that people trust scientists and people in their local community  more than national leaders. Scientists scored even higher than employees' own CEOs.

2. It's a two-way street

That brings me to another important point: Employers will be more effective if they treat employees as partners in the internal vaccination program. And that means listening as much as talking. 

Research has found that companies that are pursuing a major change – such as a merger, layoff or rebranding – are more likely to win high employee acceptance if they engage in two-way communication that emphasizes listening, feedback, reciprocity, openness and trust. When employees feel their voices are being heard and taken seriously by their organization, they feel empowered and more involved, making them more likely to buy in to the organization's decisions.

Besides inviting health experts for Q&A's, employers could also host staff listening sessions such as virtual town halls to gather feedback and address even basic questions, like when people are eligible to get the vaccine, whether it will cost anything and what that means for a return to the office. It also can help address unique concerns and issues of different groups, especially those who surveys show have more hesitancy about taking a vaccine. 

3. Empathy works

Businesses that emphasize empathy, compassion and genuine care for employees' well-being have won applause from employees during the COVID-19 pandemic.

My own recent study – which is currently under review – examined leaders' use of motivating language during the pandemic. I found that supervisors who gave clear directions, showed empathy for how the pandemic affected workers' personal lives and communicated support were most effective in fostering employee trust in leadership and the organization. While understandably trust that isn't there can't be built overnight, it's never too late to do more. 

I found similar results in past research: CEOs perceived as exhibiting genuine care for their employees engender more support for company-wide initiatives. 

[Insight, in your inbox each day. You can get it with The Conversation's email newsletter.]

Beyond the language being used, companies can show they care in other ways – actions speak louder than words, after all. For example, some companies, such as Dollar General, Instacart and Publix, have offered paid leave time or cash incentive bonuses to encourage their employees to get vaccinated.

The U.S. and the world face one of the greatest health crises in history. Ultimately, I believe, it's a collective responsibility of everyone – governments, individuals, companies – to help turn the tide against the pandemic. 

And if companies needed one more reason, surveys and reporting show younger generations increasingly expect companies to be socially responsible. And recent research found that companies who engage in social advocacy tend to enjoy stronger brand loyalty. 

In other words, it's good not only for society but for companies' bottom lines, too.


Rita Men University of Florida

(The Conversation is an independent and nonprofit source of news, analysis and commentary from academic experts.)

Rita Men, University of Florida


This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article here: https://theconversation.com/3-ways-employers-could-help-fight-vaccine-skepticism-156555.


After a long winter, people want to shed extra pounds and inches.

Top Stories


A pregnant woman was driving in the HOV lane near Dallas.

General News

NEW YORK – Meropi Kyriacou, the new Principal of The Cathedral School in Manhattan, was honored as The National Herald’s Educator of the Year.


1 of 2 Abducted Louisiana Children is Found Dead in Mississippi after Their Mother is Killed

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — A Louisiana woman was found dead in her home Thursday, and her two young daughters were abducted and found hours later in Mississippi — one dead and the other alive, police said.

WASHINGTON  — The Supreme Court on Friday struck down a Trump-era ban on bump stocks, the rapid-fire gun accessories used in the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla.  — Donald Trump marked his 78th birthday on Friday night by addressing a fawning crowd in Florida and repeatedly dismissing his opponent in November’s election, 81-year-old President Joe Biden, as too frail to handle a second term.

WASHINGTON  — Speaker Mike Johnson said Friday that the House will go to court to enforce the subpoena against Attorney General Merrick Garland for access to President Joe Biden's special counsel audio interview, hours after the Justice Department refused to prosecute Republicans’ contempt of Congress charge.

Enter your email address to subscribe

Provide your email address to subscribe. For e.g. [email protected]

You may unsubscribe at any time using the link in our newsletter.