While most employers don’t require employees to get the coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine to return to work, many are encouraging employees to get vaccinated.
For some credit unions, that encouragement consists of on-site or drive-through vaccine clinics as well as cash, gift cards, or paid-time off (PTO).
“We’re not requiring employees to receive the vaccine,” says Dan McCue, senior vice president of corporate relations for $10.3 billion asset Alaska USA Federal Credit Union in Anchorage. “However, we have been providing a steady stream of accurate and timely information for them to make the most informed decision based on their own personal circumstances. We feel this approach has been working quite well.”
Doug Hallstrom, president/CEO of $429 million asset Minnco Credit Union in Cambridge, Minn., agrees.
“We provided eight hours of PTO for employees who were fully vaccinated,” Hallstrom says. “Aside from this, our focus is to provide resources and material to educate and inform employees of the benefits of being vaccinated, data on cases related to COVID-19 in our communities, and a message to be safe with family, friends, and coworkers.”
This approach has been well-received by employees.
“The positive responses from our employees during our ongoing communication efforts and the coordination of on-site vaccine clinics have been extremely rewarding,” McCue says. “Our employees have been grateful to be given time to receive the vaccine and the comfort of knowing that if any side effects occur, they will receive paid time off to recover.”
The incentives seem to be working.
Alaska USA Federal gives employees paid time off to receive both doses. The credit union also conducted three on-site vaccine clinics for employees, families, and friends, where more than 150 people received vaccinations.
Roughly half of all Minnco employees have been vaccinated, which is higher than the rates for the surrounding communities and counties. Hallstrom cautions it’s important to respect the decisions of those who choose not to be vaccinated.
“The respect the credit union has for an employee’s decision and point of view is much appreciated,” Hallstrom says. “Showing respect to gain respect is always important, but even more so during COVID-19.”
Alaska USA Federal will continue to abide by mask mandates and social distancing guidelines in regions where such regulations are still in place. In areas where mandates are no longer active, the credit union will follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines as they relate to masks and social distancing for individuals who are not vaccinated.
“Even vaccinated employees who feel more comfortable wearing a mask will be encouraged to continue to do so as long as they see fit,” McCue says. “Our employees are thoughtful and focused on making good decisions personally and professionally, and we believe they will continue to do so until the pandemic has been officially declared over.”