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As spring arrives and hope sprouts like daffodils about an end to the pandemic, companies turn their thoughts, naturally, to vaccines. 

In President Biden’s first prime-time address to the nation last week, he promised all adults would be eligible for Covid-19 vaccines by May 1, with a semblance of normalcy possible by the Fourth of July. For employers around the U.S., that signals the beginning of a tough decision-making process around vaccines, and their role in bringing employees back to offices and other workplaces.
 

Right now, questions abound. In December, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) confirmed that companies can require employees to be vaccinated. But should they? If companies instead want to encourage or incentivize vaccination, what could that look like? What components go into a workplace vaccination policy?

 

It will be crucial over the next few months for employers to answer these questions in anticipation of universal vaccine availability. “Companies should absolutely be preparing,” Ashley Hirano, senior associate in the law firm Sheppard Mullin, told From Day One. “If companies want to make it mandatory, want to strongly encourage it, or make it easy to get–companies should be thinking through where they’re leaning.” Among the key issues:

 

What’s the first step a company should take? In a recent webinar hosted by the Baumhart Center for Social Enterprise & Responsibility at Loyola University Chicago, experts outlined how workplaces should establish their policy on vaccinations. “Find out from your employees what they want to know,” said Colleen Clark, senior design strategist for the Institute for Healthcare Delivery Design. Jessica Brown, a partner in the Denver office of law firm Gibson Dunn, said that some employers are distributing anonymous surveys to see whether their employees are likely to accept vaccinations when they’re eligible.

 

This early work will help employers understand hesitations that workers might feel about receiving the vaccine and their questions about issues like vaccine eligibility, consent forms, and other safety measures. Employers should establish a designated place to go with their questions or concerns. Cláudia Schwartz, president of the consulting firm HR Results in San Diego, said that employers would be wise to build up their resources and expertise on these issues. HR departments should have “specialized training in answering questions, triaging issues, engaging in the interactive process.” No stone should be left unturned, she said. Companies should consider accommodations for needs related to disability or religious belief, the transfer of employees to positions with lower exposure and lower need for vaccination, and the handling of exposure notices.

 

Can companies legally require employees to be vaccinated? As Brown told From Day One: “The most frequently asked questions have been: ‘Can we mandate the vaccine?’ and then–because the answer to that question is generally, ‘Yes, you can, subject to reasonable accommodation requirements under the Americans with Disabilities Act and Title VII’–Should we mandate the vaccine?” The December guidance from the EEOC, which enforces federal nondiscrimination laws in the workplace, said that not only can employers ask their employees whether they have been vaccinated, they can request proof of vaccination.

 

What are the risks for employers to keep in mind with a vaccine requirement? In making these decisions, companies should focus on business risk over legal risk, said Nadia Sawicki, co-director of the Beazley Institute for Health Law and Policy at Loyola University Chicago. In other words: How would employees react to a vaccine mandate? How would customers and clients react if there is no mandate? Regarding the legal risks, Sawicki said: “If an employer chooses to mandate the Covid-19 vaccine and complies with the requirements for medical and religious exemptions and confidentiality provisions, at this point the risk seems limited.” On the other hand, “If a business doesn’t require employees to be vaccinated, but engages in other measures to protect employees and clients from Covid-19,” Sawicki added, “There seems to be minimal risk of liability.”

 

In actual practice, are companies requiring vaccination? In a survey released last month, just 0.5% of employers said they currently require coronavirus vaccinations for all employees, and only 6% said they will require it once vaccines are widely available and/or fully approved by the Food and Drug Administration. “By and large, companies either came out against vaccine mandates or said they were undecided: 48% said they would not require employees to get vaccinated, and 43% said they were unsure and still weighing the possibility,” MarketWatch reported. “Most do not seem to be mandating the vaccine and instead are strongly encouraging it–but it depends on the industry,” Brown said. Employer pressure to get vaccinated is likely to grow as the vaccine becomes more available, Hirano believes. In some workplaces across the U.S., reported ABC News, employees have quit over vaccine requirements. This offers a hint of a workplace battle that is unlikely to fade away. As attorney Matt Murphy told ABC: "I think we're going to see endless litigation over this issue … everything Covid-related is messy. I think this is going to go on for years.”

 

What can a company do to encourage vaccination? If a company doesn’t make vaccinations mandatory, there are still many courses of action to encourage employees to get the vaccine. In these early stages, Brown said, companies are weighing ways to reduce barriers to vaccination, such as providing the vaccine onsite through a third-party provider; allowing employees time off to be vaccinated or to recover from side effects; and paying for any administrative fee that an employee’s insurance may not cover. Some employers are offering incentives, according to Hirano, like paid time off and even bonuses.  

 

Will things change? In a word: yes. Much is still unknown about the Covid-19 virus and its variants, while public sentiment is ever-evolving. Dr. Leana Wen, a public-health professor at George Washington University, told the New York Times that the president’s optimism about July 4 may be undermined by people she calls “vaccine complacent,” who just don’t see the need to get vaccinated. “They’re not antivaccine. It’s not that they have some kind of philosophical issue against the vaccine,” she said. “It’s that they may not quite see what’s in it for them.” Employment experts advise businesses to prepare for the unexpected. “Companies will want to develop clear communications to explain their policy and dispel myths about the vaccines to reduce hesitancy,” said Brown. “They also will want to prepare for hard conversations and disagreements in the workplace, since these issues have been politicized and therefore may be polarizing.” Read the full story here.

 
FEBRUARY VIRTUAL CONFERENCE RECAP
 

How Companies Can Find Their Sense of Purpose: When Casey Wahl founded his startup Attuned, whose software measures intrinsic motivation among employees, he didn’t have a set statement of purpose to share with his own hires. “I just thought that our values are there–we never actually wrote them down,” he remembered. But that was a problem. “People were not fully aligned because the values were not clearly stated, and we could not have the expected behaviors that we want within the organization. People were going in different directions.” Wahl spoke about his company’s journey in a panel discussion as part of From Day One's February conference on creating a culture of purpose. Read the full story here.

 

Companies Ask: What Does Our Community Need? There are almost countless phrases that have become popularized–and arguably overused–since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic: “We are all in this together.” “In these uncertain times.” “The new normal.” But when employees at the financial-tech company Fiserv refer to their Covid-19 response, they rely on a classic phrase often attributed to Benjamin Franklin: “Do well by doing good,” said Meg Hendricks, Fiserv’s senior director of corporate citizenship. In Fiserv’s case, one of the company’s goals has been to help small businesses, which have been hit particularly hard during the pandemic. Read the full story here.

 

How Microsoft Built an Employee Culture of Giving: When Akhtar Badshah joined Microsoft as head of its philanthropic efforts back in 2004, the company’s reputation was not exactly warm and fuzzy. At a conference, every friend he ran into told him the same thing: “You’ve gone to the evil empire.” Flash forward to the present day, and Microsoft is now one of the world’s most admired companies. What happened? Badshah believes that a major element is a strong sense of purpose and charitable giving that runs through all levels of the company, he said in a conversation with David Kirkpatrick, founder and editor in chief of Techonomy. Read the full story here.

 

How a Corporate Charity Sharpened Its Focus: A week before Covid-19 shelter-in-place restrictions took hold, the Dunkin’ Joy in Childhood Foundation was in the middle of its “week of joy,” in which the foundation helps place volunteers in food banks. Suddenly, the system to keep food banks running had to shut down. In response, the foundation scrambled to provide the food banks with $1 million in direct cash assistance. The capability to provide such lightning-speed relief didn’t come together overnight. Since its founding in 2006, the foundation has undergone an evolution and realignment with the Dunkin’ Donuts brand to establish itself as an effective nonprofit, tackling childhood hunger and offering moments of joy to children battling illness. Kari McHugh, executive director, talked about how the foundation found its focus. Read the full story here.

 
WEBINAR RECAPS
 

How to Be Anti-racist in Your Tech Hiring: In the second half of 2020, myriad companies in the U.S. made public pledges against racism. But progress in the tech industry, in particular, has been notoriously slow. What can be done to bring better outcomes? In a From Day One webinar, five leaders in tech-talent acquisition discussed how they’re battling racism in their hiring practices. Portia Kibble Smith, who heads diversity, equity and inclusion at Karat, a company that conducts technical interviews on behalf of companies hiring software engineers, said traditional resumes can be one of many barriers for people of color. “What we don’t worry about is a resume,” she said. “It doesn’t matter what school they go to, how many years of experience they’ve had. The bottom line is, Can you code? That way it doesn’t matter whether they went to a Stanford or a Spelman. We want to cut out all of that bias.” Read the full story here.

 

America’s Military Veterans, a Rich Talent Pool: The qualities that make great soldiers are the same ones prized by hiring managers across all industries: Reliability. Respect. Versatility. Dedication. Yet the path from military service to jobs with civilian employers often has bumps and misconceptions. Employers don’t necessarily know where to find potential recruits, how to attract them, or how to equate their military experience with civilian job demands. Veterans, for their part, sometimes don’t know how to explain the ways in which their skills can translate. Those gaps were addressed in a From Day One webinar, offering insights into how to train, recruit, and develop workers from the armed forces. Read the full story here.

 

How to Boost Black Leadership in Corporate America: Marion Brooks, the U.S. head of diversity and inclusion at Novartis pharmaceuticals, has heard the excuse too many times–that the lack of diversity in leadership ranks is because of a shortage of diverse talent to fill the jobs. “I tell everyone in our organization that there’s an African American person, Asian person and Latinx person that is qualified for every role in this organization, from the CEO down the line,” he said. “The question is: Where are you looking, where are you recruiting, and what is your reputation?” Companies that enact long-standing, structural changes toward diversity, equity and inclusion are the ones that will not only attract diverse talent, but foster a workplace culture where employees can feel a genuine sense of belonging, according to the speakers in a From Day One webinar titled "History in the Making: the Future of Black Leadership in Corporate America." Read the full story here.

 
LETTER FROM THE EDITOR
 

A Year of Crisis–and Reinvention: Do you remember what you were doing a year ago, when the world changed? The From Day One team remembers vividly. We had just returned from our conference in Atlanta, where we hosted hundreds of business leaders at the Georgia Aquarium. Everyone was far more transfixed by a whale shark swimming lazily in its tank than the invisible threat circulating in the community. Back in our hometown of Brooklyn, we were planning to depart soon for our next destination, Chicago, when we heard disturbing news about a phenomenon we had never really considered: a super-spreader event, a conference in Boston responsible for more than 100 cases of Covid-19. We didn’t want that happening to us and our From Day One community, so we scrubbed our live events. That was the right thing to do, but it raised a painful question: if a conference company has no conferences, does this mean we’re out of business? As with so many other organizations, the moment called for reinvention: From Day One went all-virtual. Since then, we’ve hosted 60 webinars and virtual conferences. For our story marking the one-year anniversary of March 11, the day everything changed, we surveyed our many speakers to hear about their own reinventions. Read the full story here.

 
QUICK HITS
 

What a Compassionate Email Culture Looks Like: Email culture is broken, and the way to fix it is by reducing the collective email traffic of a work team as whole, write two physician-educators in Harvard Business Review. “The instinct to manage only our personal inbox is insufficient. It’s time to flip the script on how we handle email. The secret? Focus on protecting other people’s inboxes rather than your own. The inversion may sound counterintuitive. But it’s effective–and when everyone does it, it leads to what we call a compassionate email culture, where teams work together to reduce the overall email traffic,” the authors say, offering three strategic habits to accomplish this.

 

Mellody Hobson Says ‘Civil Rights 3.0’ Is Brewing: Hobson, the only Black chairwoman in the S&P 500, has seen corporate pledges about diversity come and go, but believes this time is different, she told the Wall Street Journal. She’s one of a handful of Black women to recently take on a leadership position in the highest echelons of American corporations. Another is Rosalind Brewer, who will become CEO of Walgreens. Hobson told the Journal that roughly 20 other women of color in her orbit have been elected to corporate boards lately. “The broader society is keeping score,” she said. “It’s going to be super hard to be a Fortune 500 company without a diverse person on your board.”

 

Ever Hear of ‘Dark Patterns’? If Not, That’s the Point: As of March 15, the state of California is the first to ban sneaky website designs that make things like canceling a subscription frustratingly difficult, Insider reports. Among those dark patterns are misdirection, or when websites purposefully focus user direction on one thing to distract from something else, and “price comparison prevention,” when e-commerce websites make it difficult to compare the prices of two products. An estimated one out of ten websites uses them, primarily to trick users into giving up their data privacy. 

 
SPONSOR SPOTLIGHT:
WORKPLACE FROM FACEBOOK
 

Why Culture Is So Important in Fast-growing Companies: “We like to say that emergency is our middle name,” said Dr. David Bessler, CEO of Veterinary Emergency Group (VEG), a network of emergency-only veterinary hospitals. “It’s all we do. So we do it best,” goes the rest of the slogan. “Our entire essence is about dealing with uncertainty: Is my pet sick? Is it going to live?,” said Bessler. And VEG is a success story. What started as a single hospital in White Plains, N.Y., is now a group of 19 facilities across the U.S. Bessler spoke about VEG’s unique character at From Day One’s recent conference on creating a culture of purpose amid uncertainty. In a conversation with Ursula Llabres, head of client success for Workplace From Facebook, Bessler told how he scaled his community-based culture across hospitals during the Covid-19 pandemic. Read the full story here.

 
SPONSOR SPOTLIGHT:
AON
 

Two Qualities Will Help Workers Face the Future: As the economy emerges from the pandemic, a workforce wracked by layoffs, job stress and digital transformation will need to have a second wind. What can employers do to help? Industrial and organizational psychologist Marinus van Driel, Ph.D., associate partner in the Human Capital Solutions practice at Aon, believes that companies need to foster two important qualities in their workers: agility and resilience. From Day One talked with van Driel about what that looks like, both in theory and in practice. Read the full story here.

 
SPONSOR SPOTLIGHT:
ACHIEVERS
 

To Engage Your Workforce, Invest in Managers: Bad managers are a big deal. Fifty percent of employees say they have left their job to escape their manager at some point in their career, according to Gallup. Poor management isn’t always for lack of trying, but lack of training. To lead their teams well, managers need education and resources. In a From Day One webinar, two leaders of the employee-engagement platform Achievers, Employee Engagement Evangelist Brie Harvey and Chief Workforce Scientist Natalie Baumgartner, presented four data-supported practices that companies can use to empower managers to improve employee engagement and performance: manager contact, recognition, professional development and coaching. Read the full story here.

 
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UPCOMING VIRTUAL EVENTS
 

Get credit! From Day One is accredited by the professional organizations SHRM and HRCI, and most of our sessions now qualify for professional development credit from both organizations. See our individual event-registration pages for credit details. 

 

March 18: On-Demand Pay in a Responsible Way

According to Gartner Research, 20% of employers with majority hourly workforces will offer on-demand pay by the end of 2022. Three out of the four largest employers in the U.S. already do. However, companies jumping on the on-demand pay bandwagon need to be mindful about their approach. That’s because offering this service alone is not enough to boost retention and could make employees dependent on early pay. What does the research say about the impact of on-demand pay on employee retention, productivity, and financial health? How can employers ensure that it benefits their bottom line and builds a more resilient workforce? Register now.

 

March 30: Embedding Diversity and Equity Into Your Benefits for All Families

Given that one-size-fits-all health benefits are exclusionary by nature, what steps can employers take to ensure their workers are treated as individuals? How can companies root out implicit bias in their health-care policies? Why is it so important to take into account the social determinants of health, ranging from environmental factors to mental-health issues like stress and anxiety? What are the most successful–and needed–point solutions to fill the gaps? Register now.

 

April 1: Leading With Gratitude for Extraordinary Business Results in 2021

Employee recognition has long been known to be the simplest, most effective and inexpensive way to boost morale and affect engagement (and by extension retention and performance). Despite this, employee appreciation remains to be one of the most under-utilized and misused workplace management tools. Achievers Workforce Institute Chief Workforce Scientist Natalie Baumgartner and Employee Engagement Evangelist Brie Harvey will sit down with New York Times bestselling author Chester Elton to discuss key concepts from his latest book, Leading with Gratitude. In this videocast, they'll be exploring some of the top myths about workplace gratitude; simple, proven steps top employers use to get recognition right; and what the latest science reveals about how recognition has changed since the pandemic arrived. Register now.

 

April 6: Serendipity: The Happy Accidents That Bring Teams Together

They used to happen at the water cooler or snack bar: informal encounters where team members trade small talk and big ideas. Yet in an increasingly remote and hybrid workforce, those chance meetings have been disrupted. How can employers put in place programs, incentives, and other tools to bring their people together virtually? And what sustainable practices can be put into place as some employees transition back to the office? The potential benefits are many: a richer corporate culture, more innovation, and stronger bonds of inclusion. Register now.

 

April 8: Employee Stress: How to Identify the Signs and Find New Remedies

At a time of multiple crises, worker anxiety has been on the rise, threatening well-being, productivity, and retention. Employers need to understand and address the causes of stress, which may range from lack of childcare to financial difficulties to burnout. How can managers spot the trouble and reduce the stigma that workers may feel about asking for help? Better yet: what proven tools, benefits, and best practices can employers offer proactively to de-stress their workforce and improve productivity and retention? Register now.

 

April 13: New Leadership Trends Changing the Way We Develop Future Leaders

As the workplace wrestles with remote work, social-justice issues, mental-health challenges, the increase of digitization, and political unrest, how does this impact the way we view and develop our leaders? We expect leaders to set the tone, paint the vision, and remove obstacles to allow work to get done. Identifying the latest leadership trends is critical to inform what expectations, skills, and mindsets leaders need today as they rally their teams for the future. Join this practical, engaging, and data-rich webinar as Stewart Leadership shares their latest research, The LEAD NOW! Leadership Development Trends report, based on a survey of more than 400 human-resource leaders across 15+ industries within the U.S. The firm  will reveal key research findings along with actionable insights to expertly guide, challenge, and elevate your organization’s leadership capability and success. Register now.

 

April 14: Speaking Their Language: How to Talk Employee Engagement and Belonging With the C-suite

Culture, engagement, and belonging are sometimes seen as fluffy nice-to-haves, rather than the core business drivers that they really are. How can HR leaders get the C-suite on their side when it comes to people strategies and tactics? Hear about the science and the practice of getting C-suite buy-in with Achievers Chief Workforce Scientist Dr. Natalie Baumgartner and Senior Director of Employee Success Sou Choi. Together they will cover the business case for belonging, the impact of employee engagement, key ways to move the dial on engagement and belonging including; frequent reinforcing of values-based behaviors; making strategic decisions based on real-time employee feedback, and creating an all-in-one employee experience. Register now.

 

April 20: Fostering Employee Engagement in Healthcare with Technology

In the pandemic era, workforce health and well-being snapped into focus as a top priority for business leaders. With employees often puzzled by a wide array of choices, unaware of available benefits, or reluctant to seek help, driving health engagement has become mission-critical. We’ll dive deep into how leading employers can address these issues with a seamless experience and ecosystem, a consumerized approach, and a balance of technology and compassion as well as personalization and data-driven insights. Register now.

 

April 27: Helping Employees Navigate the Fertility Journey

Infertility is on the rise, with one in eight U.S. couples affected by fertility challenges. Yet this increasingly common experience is all too often perplexing and overwhelming. Without clear guidance, many aspiring parents can wind up going down the wrong path, resulting in wasted energy and emotional distress. As more companies offer fertility benefits, what are the best ways for them to help employees understand and navigate the journey?

Register now.

 

2021 VIRTUAL CONFERENCES:

 

March 24: How to Build Authentic Leaders: the Role of HR

If leaders are made, not born (as Vince Lombardi said), then what are the smart ways in which HR can play a major role in developing them? How can HR help identify employees with leadership potential? What can be done to help employees with outstanding technical skills make the transition into management? How can they be trained early in their career trajectory–and then refined in a continuous way? And how can HR work with top management to define an organization's leadership qualities and promote diverse new leaders? You can register here to attend.

 

April 21: Digital Tools for Building an Engaged, Productive Team

In workforces transformed by remote work and challenged by stress, employers can take advantage of new platforms and approaches to boost engagement as well as productivity. What are the best new methods for collaboration? How can managers align the new tools with company culture and workflow to make sure the overall effect is sustainable and beneficial to worker well-being? You can register here to attend.

 

May 19: Diversity: How Employers Can Match Words With Deeds 

Promises were made, now promises need to be kept. But that's the hard part. How can progress be jump-started? Based on experience with D&I initiatives, what works and what doesn't? What is the latest thinking on bias mitigation in hiring, inclusion, and promotion? What training and incentives are most effective for holding leaders accountable for making sustainable progress? And how can leaders have those uncomfortable conversations about what needs to happen–and who should be included in these conversations? You can register here to attend.

 

June 16: The New Benefits That Employees Need and Want Toda

In a crisis era, workers have spoken up about the new and improved benefits that would help them manage their work and their lives. They want more offerings in health and wellness, mental-health care, child care, financial wellness, and more. How have employers responded, while keeping costs under control? How can companies offer menus of benefits, to avoid the one-size-fits-all approach? What kinds of voluntary benefits should companies consider, like vision insurance? You can register here to attend.

 

July 21: Being an Ally: How to Inspire and Encourage It Among Workers

The pandemic cast a spotlight on America's gaps in supporting its working parents. School was practically the only safety net–until it wasn't. Women left their career tracks en masse. As the economy recovers, what changes can business and government make to help working parents do their jobs well, both at work and home? What are the prospects for child care, family leave, new health-care solutions and financial-wellness programs? You can register here to attend.

 

Aug. 18: Learning From a Crisis About What Working Parents Need

The pandemic cast a spotlight on America's gaps in supporting its working parents. School was practically the only safety net–until it wasn't. Women left their career tracks en masse. As the economy recovers, what changes can business and government make to help working parents do their jobs well, both at work and home? What are the prospects for child care, family leave, new health-care solutions and financial-wellness programs? You can register here to attend.

 

Sept. 15: New Ideas and Tactics for Successful Diversity Recruiting

Many employers have renewed their commitment to diversity, but what are the best ways of recruiting the diverse workforce of tomorrow? How can companies improve their early-talent pipelines, including internships and campus recruiting? How can they use digital tools to spot talent in the marketplace as well as finding candidates for advancement in their own workforces? What are the best ways from removing bias from the process, including the algorithms? And how can employers make themselves more attractive to diverse candidates? You can register here to attend.


 

Oct. 20: Making the Most of a Breakthrough in Health and Wellness

During the crises of 2020-21, an old stigma was lifted: Nearly everyone could admit they were emotionally stressed and struggling in some way. But what is the response that employers can offer their workers? What are the smartest, most creative and empathetic programs and support systems can companies offer in terms of mental-health care, general wellness, stress relief, and counseling? What were the insights about burnout and how to address it? You can register here to attend.

 

Nov. 17: Building a Skilled Team: How Upskilling, Coaching, and Recognition Can Help

Digital transformation and disruption will challenge employers to put more emphasis than ever on employee skills, starting with predicting what skills will be needed. How will corporate training programs evolve? How can coaching and mentoring evolve to support a remote workforce and increasingly diverse staff? What are the best new ways to recognize workers for their capabilities and accomplishments? You can register here to attend.

 

Dec. 15: The Future of Work in an Era of Rapid Change

The way we work has changed at a breakneck pace, but not always as we imagined it would. How is digital transformation unfolding in surprising ways? Will AI and other technologies replace human workers–or empower them? What new ways will human talent be discovered, developed, and deployed? What will people value in their work in terms of tangible and psychic rewards? You can register here to attend.

 
 
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