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How to Address COVID-19 Vaccination Conflicts in the Workplace

By Mary Gormandy White, M.A., SHRM-SCP, SPHR

COVID-19 continues to significantly impact every aspect of day-to-day life, including the workplace. While most people expected, or at least hoped, that the peak risk associated with the pandemic would be over by now, that is not proving to be the case. People are still at risk, government and business leaders are still having to make difficult decisions, and tensions are still running high, especially between people who don't share the same perceptions about COVID-19 and related topics, such as vaccines and mask-wearing.

Even before COVID-19 vaccines became widely available, emotions ran high around this topic, with some people counting the minutes until they could get a jab and others vowing to never do so, with the likely less vocal majority falling between these two extremes.

The same can also be said about other topics related to COVID-19 prevention and its impact, with people vehemently disagreeing about whether masks should be worn, quarantines required, or occupancy limits established and enforced. Regardless of your organization's policies or official positions related to these topics, chances are that discussions - and likely arguments - about vaccines, masks and quarantines are continuing within the ranks of your company's employees.

Vaccination mandates, whether imposed by a government body or the organization itself, may also lead to or escalate internal conflict among the workforce.

Follow these steps to prepare for and respond to vaccine-related employee conflict in the workplace.