Speaking to a Ninth grade Careers Class, I was asked, “What the best part about being the Company Owner?” I replied, “Being able to provide an opportunity for our coworkers to have a good living and provide for their families.” The student then asked, “What the worst part about being Company Owner”? I replied, “Being responsible to keep the company going that provides our coworkers the means to provide for themselves and their families.”
When something like COVID-19 comes along, it represents a challenge to providing that living with even less control than normal.
We were designated an essential business and mandated to stay open. As required, we created a COVID response plan. Then we implemented the plan with an emphasis on not just being safe but looking out for each other. Encouraging and making accommodations for at risk individuals to stay home. Taking steps to reduce the proximity to each other, altering workdays and hours to minimize that proximity and enhance the ability to clean and sanitize.
So, with the means to end all these precautionary steps presenting itself, namely the vaccines, it is hard to not be frustrated when there is resistance.
All our salaried coworkers are vaccinated. Less than a third of our hourly coworkers have been vaccinated. We started out offering to make up any time lost while getting their vaccination if they went during their normal shift. That got us the first few hourly coworkers. It was suggested that I should sit at the entrance with cases of beer in my truck offering one to each person with a vaccination card. We settled for a gift card for a grocery store that has a liquor store attached. That got a few more coworkers.
We are down to an internal ad campaign trying to counter the misinformation that is prevalent out there like: Concern about the side effects and safety of the vaccine, Concern that the vaccine is being developed too quickly, Plan to wait and see if it is safe and may get it later, Mistrust in the government; the list is much longer than I had imagined.
This is not about keeping the doors open. At this point we will be able to maintain production. This is about concern for the friends and neighbors that happen to work under the same roof. Many of whom I have known for almost 20 years. To say their hesitancy is frustrating is an understatement. If others in the population choose not to vaccinate, I say you get what you get. Under this roof, it is not that easy. The goal is still the same, provide a means to make a good living and provide for their families. It just has a different twist to it now.