How to encourage your employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine

| July 2, 2021

How to encourage your employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine

The top 5 HR compliant ways to support your workforce in staying safe and healthy

In the United States, 55% of the total population has received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and 47% of the total population has been fully vaccinated. [1]

Although these numbers show great progress and vaccine hesitancy has decreased, a recent poll found that about 1 in 5 American adults say they probably or definitely won’t get the COVID-19 vaccine. [2]

One of the best ways to motivate those who are hesitant about getting vaccinated is to share accurate information and encouragement from a trusted source. With a recent study finding that 61% of respondents cite their employer as their most trusted source of information—even when compared to government, traditional media, and social media—it’s clear that employers play a critical role in encouraging Americans to get vaccinated. [3]

Continue reading for the top 5 HR complaint ways to encourage your employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine to keep your workforce safe and healthy. 

#1: Develop an effective, cohesive communication strategy about vaccination.

The first step in encouraging your workforce to get vaccinated is developing your company’s communication strategy. 

Your communication strategy will be unique for your team depending on your vaccine requirement approach (optional, encouraged, recommended, incented, or required) and the level of communication you believe is necessary (minimal, moderate, or extensive). 

Most employers have elected to create an encouraged or recommended vaccine requirement approach with a focus on sharing reliable information and establishing supportive policies and practices. 

The idea is to steer clear of giving medical advice or appearing to pressure your employees into getting the vaccine, and instead focus on the vaccine as a way to decrease COVID-19 illnesses, hospitalizations, and fatalities among themselves, their families, and their community.

#2: Engage your leadership team to lead by example.

It’s essential for you executives, managers, and team leaders to be involved in your vaccination communication efforts and act as advocates for your COVID-19 vaccination strategy.

With vaccination being a personal decision, employees will feel more comfortable getting vaccinated when they see or hear of others getting the shot. 

A great way to get the message out is to collect vaccination photos or testimonials from company leadership and post them on your social media and other channels of communication for your workforce to view.

It’s also important to make the message more personal by asking senior managers to talk to their team about their vaccination experience to ease any uncertainties among those who are hesitant. 

#3: Consider offering paid time off to get vaccinated. 

Getting the vaccine takes both time and effort, and offering paid time off for vaccination appointments scheduled during the workday or outside of work shows your team that you care about their health and wellbeing.

If you decide to provide your employees with this option, you can require proof of vaccination for your employees to receive the pay.

For small businesses with less than 500 employees, the federal government is offering a tax credit that provides full pay for any employees who get a COVID-19 vaccine—a credit that applies to nearly half of all private sector employees in the U.S.

If you’re concerned about violating ADA wellness program provisions, you can minimize the risk of a violation by giving all employees a specific amount of paid time off up front that can be used to obtain the vaccine from a third-party vendor of their choosing. With this option, you would not require proof of inoculation.

#4: Create a vaccination rewards program.

In addition or in place of offering paid time off to get vaccinated, consider creating a vaccination rewards program. When implemented effectively, rewards can be a powerful part of your company’s vaccination strategy.

Vaccine rewards don’t need to be pricey, a smaller gift to express gratitude for your employees can be extremely meaningful, especially after their hard work and dedication during the pandemic.

While some employers may be concerned that a rewards program will carry risk by acting as an incentive, there are options for rewards that carry some level of risk, but are generally not considered significant. 

Consider the following ideas for vaccination rewards:

  • Gift cards in a modest amount ($25 or less)
  • Company merchandise like water bottles, t-shirts or coffee mugs
  • Offering an additional paid day off to use during the calendar year for people who get vaccinated.

Employees who are unable to get the vaccine due to a medical condition and those who choose not to get the vaccine due to a sincerely held religious belief may feel it is unfair that they do not qualify for the rewards, which can lead to morale problems or inadvertent disparate impact discrimination.

To mitigate risk, you can offer comparable benefits to employees who cannot or do not receive the vaccine because of religious beliefs or a medical condition. You can also provide the incentive to employees who submit a doctor’s note verifying that their healthcare provider does not recommend that they get vaccinated.

#5: Organize an employee FAQ session. 

One of the reasons a portion of the American public is hesitant about getting the COVID-19 vaccine is because of distrust in the vaccine that stems from widespread misinformation about its development, efficacy and side effects. 

If you find that your workforce is hesitant to get vaccinated for reasons stemming from misinformation, consider organizing an employee FAQ session about the vaccine with a prominent, trusted physician in your community.

The event can be online or in-person depending on what works best for your workforce as long as it’s in a format where people are able to submit or ask questions. You can research ideas for common FAQs to get the event started, but it’s important that your employees feel you’ve created a forum where they can ask any question they need to in order to decrease their fears and uncertainties about the vaccine. 

If creating an event of this nature is not possible, share our recent webinar about Debunking COVID-19 Vaccine Myths with your team that’s linked in the Resources section below.  

To conclude

Overcoming vaccine hesitancy can be a daunting task, but it’s essential in the mission to help your employees return to the workplace amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. With a cohesive vaccination communication strategy in place, you can create a safer, happier, and healthier workforce. 

Be sure to reference this article as needed as you form your vaccination communication strategy, and pull from our Resources section below when your employees need more information about the COVID-19 vaccine. 


We’ve compiled a few resources below for you to share with your team to encourage your employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine: 

Interested in an employee vaccination program? We’re here to help! If you’re interested in securing a safe, effective COVID-19 vaccination program strategy for your workforce, please contact us today to learn more.

Note: The coronavirus pandemic continues to be a fluid situation. Our clinical teams are reviewing new data and guidelines daily, and our strategy for COVID-19 vaccinations continues to evolve rapidly to fit the changing needs of our populations.

All information is correct at time of writing. If you have any additional questions about our vaccination program, please contact us here.


1: CDC | COVID-19 Vaccinations in the United States

2: The Associated Press | Poll: Most in US who remain unvaccinated need convincing

3: Edelman | 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer