5 Questions Business Leaders Should Ask as COVID-19 Vaccines Roll Out

15 July 2021

The COVID-19 vaccine distribution has begun – though, maybe not as fast as some of us would have liked.

What should your organisation do when considering?

  • Legal and ethics;
  • Your industry;
  • What your brand stands for in the market;
  • Your corporate values, and;
  • Your customer and employee bases.


This information serves as another input for your corporate vaccine policy.

The following FIVE questions should be considered to craft a strategic response that will help you navigate what is bound to be a complicated and dynamic period:

1. What is the current state of play and evolving landscape?
Information is also changing constantly. Leaders will need to refresh their knowledge weekly, if not daily, and revise their plans and expectations as they get new information from reliable sources of information.

Two things we know:

  • Demand currently exceeds supply and likely will into 2021 and;
  • the complexities of vaccine management mean it will remain a major public health and economic driver in 2021 — and into 2022 in some parts of the world.


2. What does the COVID-19 vaccine mean for my Organisation?
Two issues should be top of mind for executives trying to assess what the availability of vaccines means for their organisation:

  • What recommendations and policies should we establish around employee immunization?
  • What opportunities could our vaccine approach allow us to capture by acting quickly?


Executive leaders need to use the best information available to develop and communicate a consistent position on employee vaccinations and determine (and articulate), what role their company will play in providing and paying for them.


3. What impact will vaccines have on our return to the workplace?
Hybrid workforce models have become part of the organisational fabric. The corporate position on returning to the workplace is thus no longer yes or no — it is about the rationale.

  • In vaccine planning, organisations should take a risk-costs-benefits approach;
  • In return-to-workplace scenario planning that includes health and safety.
  • Additionally, as the organisation’s health and safety plan evolves, vaccine decisions and contingencies will need to be integrated.


4. What health, safety and legal implications must we be aware of?
The ongoing health and safety questions raise specific legal questions for executives:

  • Is it legal to require employees to receive vaccines?
  • To what extent can we gather and store data confirming that an employee received a vaccine?
  • What liability and risks would we take on if we require (or for that matter, do not require) employees to be vaccinated?


It is critical that companies maintain a current understanding of the regulatory requirements in the jurisdictions in which they operate.


5. What uncertainties continue to exist around vaccinations, and what impacts could they have?
Many questions remain about the timeline and availability of the COVID-19 vaccine, making for confusing times.

  • Questions abound about whether companies will be able to procure and administer vaccines to their workers.
  • Should global organisations consider social responsibility, establishing employee sponsored vaccination programs for employees and family members?
  • Should a CEO mandate the vaccine?


These uncertainties require flexibility. For example, organisations have to assume vaccine availability will vary to avoid encouraging workers to try and obtain vaccines that are unavailable or difficult to access.

Keeping track of what is certain and taking a risk-benefit approach will help elevate uncertainties and, over time, eliminate them to evolve action plans.

Source: Gartner HR Lessons from COVID-19 Webinar Poll (December 9, 2020)

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