Scott Kirby, United Airlines CEO, on Why He Needs His Global Staff Must Be Vavaccinated

Right now, as the highly transmissible Delta variant surges across the country, many businesses are focusing on getting every worker vaccinated. To do so effectively, employers must trust their employees to fight misinformation and vaccination hesitancy. It may also take employer resources to educate employees and communities to increase vaccination rates.

Scott Kirby (CEO of United Airlines) is the best person to know about this. He announced on August 6 that all employees will be required to be vaccinated, becoming one of the first companies, and the first major U.S. based airline, to do so. United employs 67,000 people in the U.S. and requires all new employees to have their vaccines up to mid-June. Unvaccinated workers must wear masks when they visit company offices. Kirby says that the company began mandating vaccines for plane crew and pilots months before they traveled to India, which was experiencing increasing deaths and Covid-19 spikes.

Kirby spoke out during a panel discussion held by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. He discussed his reasons for taking these steps, and what he plans to do at United. These are some of his top tips.

You should allow for flexibility.

United Airlines employees will be required to submit a photo of their vaccination card or risk being fired. Kirby is aware that not everyone will get the vaccine so the company allows for medical and religious exemptions. Employees have until October 25, or five weeks from the date that the Food and Drug Administration approves one vaccine, depending on when they are granted. According to him, the timeframe will allow those who are unable to receive a vaccine to still have plenty of time.

Personalize it.

Kirby sends a letter to grieving family members when Covid-19 has claimed the life of an employee. The letters serve as a reminder to Kirby of how his policies have affected people outside the workplace, including those with immunocompromised relatives or those with children not yet eligible for vaccinations.

Kirby claims that United also has safety precautions in place, including deep cleanings and additional time for air filtering before staff or customers board planes. He says that the mandates and extra precautions address a need many workers have: To be able focus on the job, and not worry about getting sick loved ones.

Expect some pushback.

Kirby estimates that about five percent of workers have experienced adverse reactions to the mandate. Most employees don’t believe it is the right of the company to require a specific health policy. Business owners should speak with these people, particularly managers and discuss the safety implications of their decision. The airline industry is not the only one that has many rules that protect passengers’ safety while traveling. He explained that there are thousands more. Employees don’t need to like or agree with the decision. However, he says that employees can talk in terms of infection transmission and safety metrics so they understand the context.

“We’ve made a decision. This decision is better than any business decision that I have ever made. We are saving lives and protecting people.

Publited at Fri, 20 August 2021 17:23:49 +0000

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