After nearly a year of living in a pandemic world, there’s finally some good news on the COVID-19 front: vaccines that give us a glimpse of a return to normalcy.

But, of course, like everything surrounding COVID-19, it’s not easy: The rollout has been rocky at best, and scepticism and hesitation surround the vaccines. Another complication: Organizations, key in many ways to the success of the vaccines, are slow to implement a COVID-19 vaccine strategy and have yet to decide how or if they will encourage employees to get inoculated, if they’ll provide incentives for them to do so or if they’ll go further and require vaccination among workers.

That’s a problem.

COVID-19 vaccine support is one of the most significant tasks employers have to do all year—and perhaps one of the most important in a lifetime. But most organizations have yet to decide where they stand. Although having a plan of action seems obvious, it’s something most employers have been kicking the can on for the past several months while they waited for news and updates on COVID-19 and watched to see how things played out. Even now, with the vaccines here, most research indicates that the vast majority of employers are still deciding what their role will be, while many are watching what their peers do. But a wait-and-see approach can no longer wait.

“This is probably the first time that HR is having to make a choice from the health and wellness perspective of their organization,” Justin Holland, CEO and founder of HealthJoy, a benefits company that works with employers, told me recently. “Companies have to make a stand. They have to decide what side of history they want to be on.”

For organizations that have long preached the wellness and health of their employees as a priority, this is a chance to prove it. COVID-19 in general has made apparent which employers have stepped up in response to the many challenges of the pandemic—which ones have really prioritized health and safety by allowing and promoting remote work or by rolling out new benefits to help workers stay healthy, safe and sane during the more-than-tumultuous time. Now, the COVID-19 vaccines are the latest test.

As employees largely look to their employer and company leaders for guidance on important matters, including health, companies have a responsibility to take a stand.

By: Kathryn Mayer
Source: HR Executive