Communicating Employee Vaccine Mandates: A Formula for Success

Geisinger Health has implemented communications for the organization’s
employee vaccine mandate that have helped to increase compliance
by 27% in just two months. Learn about the effective strategies
marketing leaders developed that you can use at your organization.

A new Strategic Health Care Marketing webinar for health care marketers and strategists

Presented on November 10, 2021 

About Your Presenters:

Don Stanziano
Chief Marketing and Communications Officer
Geisinger Health

Don Stanziano, MHA, APR, is chief marketing and communications officer for Geisinger, an integrated health system based in Danville, Pennsylvania, recognized as a national leader in health care innovation.

Geisinger serves more than 3 million customers across Pennsylvania and New Jersey through its nine hospitals, more than 250 ambulatory sites, a full line of commercial and government insurance products, and the Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine. Stanziano is responsible for all marketing and communications across the Geisinger enterprise, including brand and growth marketing, internal and external communications, issues management, and digital customer and employee engagement across a robust marketing technology stack. He joined Geisinger in January 2018 from San Diego-based Scripps Health, where he spent 16 years, including eight years as vice president of marketing and communications. Stanziano earned his Bachelor of Science in Journalism from Bowling Green State University and his Master of Healthcare Administration from Ohio University.

Don Stanziano, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, Geisinger Health

Emile Lee
Vice President, Corporate Communications
Geisinger Health

Emile Lee is vice president of corporate communications for Geisinger Health, a health care system in Pennsylvania that includes nine hospital campuses, a health plan, two research centers and the Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine. He is responsible for leading strategic communications for the company, which includes external, internal, and executive communications; crisis and issues management; brand and corporate reputation; and public affairs. Prior to joining Geisinger, Lee held senior executive communications roles at WarnerMedia, Dun & Bradstreet, Johnson & Johnson, SAP, Electronic Data Systems and others.

Emile Lee Vice President, Corporate Communications Geisinger Health


Welcome to today's Strategic Health Care Marketing Webinar, Communicating Employee Vaccine Mandates: A Formula for Success. I'm Brian Griffin, health care journalist and former health system marketing director and I'll be your host for today's program. I'd like to welcome our presenters for today.
First, Don Stanziano.
He's the chief marketing and communications officer for Geisinger Health, an integrated health system based in Pennsylvania. That's recognized as a national leader in health care innovation.
Don is responsible for all marketing and communications across the Geisinger Enterprise.
That includes brand and growth marketing, internal and external communications, issues management, and digital customer and employee engagement.
He joined Geisinger in 2018 from California based script cell where he spent many years in marketing and communications leadership.
Don is joined by Emile Lee, Geisigner's vice president of corporate communications.
Emile is responsible for leading strategic communications for the company, including external, internal and executive communications, online communications, crisis communications, issues, management, brand, and corporate reputation, and public affairs.
And, prior to joining Geisinger, Emile held senior executive communications roles for WarnerMedia, Dun and Bradstreet, Johnson and Johnson, Electric Data Systems, and others.
Welcome Don and Emile to the program.
Thank you, Brian.
Thanks, Brian.
In terms of our format for today's program, will have 45 minutes of presentation, followed by 10 minutes of Q&A with you, our audience, to submit questions, All you have to do is enter them into the control panel, under questions that you have in front of you on your screen.
That's really all there is to it.
We'll hold those questions until the end.
But please feel free to submit them now at any time.
We'll keep them in queue for the end of the program.
As for the webinar, you'll receive an e-mail with a link to access for recording today's program as soon as it's available for viewing.
So, let's get started.
With the ongoing public health threat posed by Covid 19, a growing number of hospitals, health systems, and medical groups across the country are adopting employee vaccine mandates.
The opposition, This is generated among some groups of medical workers and public, make crafting, mandate communications, and messaging, critically important to the health care marketer.
I think no one knows this better than Don and Emile. They recently led their marketing communications team through development of a comprehensive internal communications campaign in support of a November first mandate.
That really helped Geisinger increase its staff vaccination rates significantly like all in just two months.
In today's webinar, Don and Emile will focus on sharing insights into employees, top concerns about vaccination, discussing the benefits of collaborating with communicators at other health systems.
They are also implementing similar mandates.
Providing an overview of marcom team's formula for success with its internal campaign and emphasizing the importance of preparing for the impact that such a mandate can have on your organization's staffing and, also, operations.
And, they'll also highlight key takeaways for you to consider, as well.
I'm going to begin by asking, Don, to provide some context for the challenging situation.
Geisinger face last summer situation that led to the adoption by Geisinger's senior management team of the mandate. So, Don, take it away.
Thank you, Brian. And it's a pleasure to be here.
I'll just set the stage and take everyone back a few months. When vaccines first became available, we aggressively made them available to our employees.
Obviously, health care workers were among the first to have access because of their high risk exposure and the need for continuity of care in our communities.
And so the communications started, you know, back in January of 2020, when the are 2021, I should say, when, when the vaccines first became available beginning of this year or late, late the prior year.
Um, but despite all those efforts, and the heavy push and a lot of education. And, you know, the access that we made, the vaccines available to our employees, the voluntary efforts sort of stalled at about three quarters. We couldn't sort of get past that 70% ish ratio on our in our workforce. And that, you know, for an organization our size, that's still a significant number of people. That's a large number of folks who are still unvaccinated. And?
It was, it was impacting our operations.
And, and, you know, as a organization that believes in public health and science, we needed to get that number higher.
So, while there was a, a positive trend in cases nationally for awhile, it looked like we were coming out of it the Delta variant sort of, you know whipped us around and, as a country, we were seeing spikes in other regions.
Which was forcing some of our, you know, our peer organizations to start to look at mandates and the Delta virus spiking was, was a real concern.
Particularly the high, high, higher rate of spread that, that, that variant seem to seem to have.
So, you know, from mid July to the end of August, our test positivity rate in our area went from 1% to 11%.
So we had reached a nice, pretty significant low point, and then started to see, you know, a creep up.
Fast hospitalizations went from 16 to 80 across our our hospital system, and ICU cases went increased from 5 21.
And, you know, nearly all of those were unvaccinated. So it truly was a spike among the unvaccinated.
Um, with our health system, data and analytics, teams are pointing to continued rapid spread of the variant in the fall.
Um, our senior leadership met and made the critical decision that we would input.
No mandate vaccines for our workforce with an effective date of November first. November first being the date that the, the, the vaccine course needed to be completed.
So, depending on the vaccine that you received, some are two course and some 2 to 0 since somewhere one dose.
But the course had to be completed by the November one deadline.
And, you know, that, the reason for that was, you know, the protection of our patients, the protection of their colleagues, all of our, entire workforce.
And, given our influence in the communities, we are, We are one of the largest employers, in many of the communities we serve, that can have an impact on community vaccination rates, as well, when we, when we impose a mandate like that.
Obviously, there was the opportunity for folks to seek an exemption.
four, sincerely held religious beliefs or medical reason, and though that process was implemented, and, and we followed that. And several folks were granted those as part of the process.
But in hindsight, and now looking back, just a week into, into November, it clearly was the right decision.
In early October, the test positivity rate continued to climb, it jumped up to 14% or hospitalizations, climbed to 200 and our ICU cases more than doubled to the mid forties.
So, while we were working through this mandate, we were, we were seeing the case rates going up in our community and in our hospitals.
So, the team developed a comprehensive campaign to communicate the mandate to our staff.
We wanted to understand the barriers, what was, what, what were the reasons that folks were hesitant or delaying the decision.
And, and it's important to recognize that, you know, that's, um, we believe that even though we had done a lot of communication, there was a lot of information out there, that we really wanted to understand what that, what those, what those issues were.
So we did a survey to identify the unvaccinated employees concerns.
We wanted to be sensitive and respectful, and so we felt like understanding what the issues hesitancy issues were would help us better communicate. And that turned out to be true.
And those issues that we identified were that, you know, there were sincere worries among our female employees, particularly those of childbearing age, on the impact of their health, particularly around pregnancy, fertility, breastfeeding, or a lot of questions about that.
Those are questions we can easily answer. We have experts on staff in our Women's and Children's Institute, who can address those. And we certainly leverage that.
The possibility of harmful side effects people were hearing stories about friends and colleagues and family members getting sick from a vaccine and that that was scary to them.
So you had to communicate the balance of the side effects versus the effects of the virus perception that the prior infection provide sufficient immunity.
We heard frequently from folks while I had, I had coded and so I have natural immunity. I don't need the vaccine.
And then, and then the last category being, you know, you know, just an opposition to mandates, even even employees who had been vaccinated, Share that opinion with us that they just had an issue with, with them, with the concept of a mandate.
And the belief that there's a, you know, they had a personal choice.
So, um, that information was incredibly helpful.
The other piece that was incredibly helpful for us is, you know, understanding that we were not the first system to make this decision, that, and that we had the opportunity to benefit from the learnings of others. And I want to be very humble about that.
That we reached out to colleagues across the country who had made the decision earlier, and, and we did benefit from their learning. Networking with those folks and sharing best practices, and I would have to say that organizations that we reached out to were incredibly gracious in that regard. Those conversations were valuable at many levels. Not just in helping us with messaging and tactics.
But also, just the sharing of the experience with our senior leadership, so that we could away concerns about the reaction and the response, and, you know, would we actually achieve what we would hope to achieve by doing it, And that those colleague experiences were very helpful in that regard.
I think, you know, I'll ask Emile to jump in here and help it put a little more specificity around our communications efforts.
Happy to do that. And before I jump into that, I do echo your comments with, with thanking our, our peers at other health care systems, and hospitals, and so forth.
They were invaluable, they like self corrections with their time, but we also learned a lot. We tested some of our theories out as well.
And that was extremely helpful. And so, if anything, I mean, this webinar gives us an opportunity to pay forward, I suppose. And if anyone else can learn from us, as we've learned from other health systems.
I think, at the end of the day, we're all part of the same, you know, community, if you will, and serve the same purpose.
And so, if we can be helpful in any regard through this webinar or outside of this webinar, please do feel free to, to reach out and let us know how we can help.
The other things I'd love to give is to an amazing cross functional team within our system.
Because it wasn't just marketing communications. I mean, I know we're focused on that today, and we'll go into detail on kind of what we did, from that perspective.
But this was a true partnership, together with HR, Employee Health, the Data and Analytics analytics team that Don referenced earlier.
Our clinical team, the operations folks, facilities, and the lists truly goes on from that capacity.
And so, I would, it would be, yeah, I'd be remiss if I didn't say thank you to the partnership across all those teams Because it really is all hands on deck type of situation, marketing communications can't do this alone, And there's no way that we can certainly take credit for, you know, where we've been able to take it.
As you'll you'll, you'll hear at the end of the presentation today in terms of the numbers.
The other part, too, I would love to say, is a big thanks to the communications team in particular.
You know, they certainly, over the course of the last two years have been communicating quite extensively, both externally and internally, with regards to covert and covert vaccines at the education of it, as well. And the last two months, since we announced the mandate, was, you know, kinda wrap that up, if moreso.
And so a big thanks to them for burning.
The midnight oil really partnering and working with us and across our whole enterprise to get the material that we needed to ensure that we left no rock unturned so that we can provide employees with the information they needed to make an informed decision.
That that was our goal from a communications perspective. We had no idea, hindsight is going to be 2020 when we look back at the results, but we had no idea what the numbers were going to be. So, our job was, we need to educate and provide information full stop. So that any, any individual on the team can make an informed decision.
That's kinda what are going strategy wise, if you will. So from, and for the experts that are on this webinar, you know, this is not going to look like rocket science, you know, per se, but, you know, we really based, as Don mentioned, our strategy on the data. What was. Or what were our employees telling us? You know, what would the insights that came out of the surveys or focus groups? Conversations that, you know, our experts were having, questions that were bubbling up through managers, those kinds of things, we took that, those really critical data points and then we created a strategy.
And as you can all appreciate, in the healthcare system, some employees don't read e-mails, because they're on the front lines. And so you have to be creative, and that shouldn't be an excuse for us as communicators and communicating that message to them, how do we get that to them.
And so we really came up with a 360 communications plan that included, you know, all these different things that you see here.
But it was employee e-mails, intranet information, social media posts, you know, staff text messaging.
If you will, virtual town halls, webinars like this, that we're focused, and we'll get into that in a little bit more detail.
But by and large, a direct manager to employee communications, with something that, and I think we'll talk about some more as we go forward.
That was a critical piece. From a communications perspective was really making sure that the managers, people managers, were armed. With messages, FAQ's, and things that they would need.
Or where to go to zero point employees to, to get the answers that they needed. And I can't say enough about all of our managers, because they really should be given a lot of credit for having those difficult conversations with their employees, But, more importantly, taking the time out of their busy schedule to answer any questions.
And if they didn't have the answer, directing them to, and knowing where to go to, to get the answers that their employees were asking. And that was a huge part of our sort of multichannel approach if you will as well. And so, when we combine all these different channels, you know, what was sort of the most important thing that we did well, It was being consistent with our messaging. It was being transparent with our messaging, but it was also be consistent with how we said things, where are we set things, that repetition was critical?
And we literally, on a day, in and day out basis, every single day, and multiple stories, and layers of communication, going out and hitting our employees at all levels throughout the organization, face-to-face, virtual, online, whatever it might be. That's what we were doing.
So that frequency was critical.
It was making sure that we're customizing it, quote, unquote, customizing the communication for every individual, again, depending on how they like to absorb the material or perceived the material.
You know, we use every single channel in our toolkit to communicate to staff, and that's certainly what we did.
And Tom referred to this earlier, too. It was using the right talent, and there was not as being critical or judgemental. It was providing information facts in a non-judgemental way. And so, that tone was critically important.
We obviously believed and the executive team believe wholeheartedly in the mandate, as well.
But, you know, our job wasn't necessarily to convince, our job was to educate on the benefits of the vaccine, and so on and so forth and lobby individuals to make their decisions for themselves. You know, if you will. And so that tone, the authenticity, the transparency in the communication, was absolutely something that we made sure that we did across the board, again, whether that was the one-on-one conversations, you know, the broader sort of employee town halls, or otherwise as well.
Part of it was, you know, understanding, again, not only how the employees would like to be communicated to, or how they wanted to receive that information, but it was actually hearing the stories that resonated with them.
And what we found was that, OK, you can have your SMEs know, your infectious disease experts talk about certain issues. And that was important. Don't get me wrong.
That was critical to making sure that we're reinforcing with data and the science behind the vaccines, But it was also what was really powerful was having employees hear from their peers.
And having employees hear from others, that might be the same situation. Whether that would be, you know, younger couples looking to have a baby or it was young mothers that were breastfeeding, That would already pregnant or, you know, giving birth and breastfeeding. And so we really went out of her way.
And, again, thank you to those employees who agreed, you know, to, to, you know, I guess bear witness to, you know, what the vaccines meant for them.
If you will, provide testimonials that were hugely impactful, you know, for the wider employee base to hear from that was critically important as part of this as well. And, so, when you look at it, from that perspective, it was really now just not talking to data science, but even from an emotional perspective. You know, addressing it, with not just the data and science, but with actual employee testimonials, which was, what we found was very, very powerful as well.
The other thing I would say, before we go to the next slide is, I think I alluded to this earlier, we have been communicating and educating the wider communities about covalent vaccines. Know, for the better part of, I guess, at the time, when we announced the vaccine mandate, 14, 15, 16 months.
And, so, you know, we did have a lot of the content. We had a lot of the other pieces, If you will, the messaging, we certainly had to make sure that we were leveraging those as appropriate internally, But it wasn't like we were starting from scratch. You know, we had a lot of information. We had a lot of positions and messaging and material that had been already out there from an external perspective, and it was a way of looking at it and saying, How to customize?
How do we adapt, and how do we update that information data based on the data and the analytics that done for two, you know, from an employee survey perspective, That would hone in on the trigger point, so to speak, for employees to be receptive to that information as well. So, that's what we went about doing. So if you can go to the next slide.
And this talks really about the, you know, addressing key concerns and using our SMEs, if you will, our subject matter experts.
And so we, again, we went out of her way to ensure that every single top, even if it was just five employees that had raised their hand and said, I'm concerned about X topic.
We, we went out of her way to ensure that we created the material, the content, necessary, for, again, to educate them in any capacity we could, whether that be videos. And I will give, again, our infectious disease experts, and our other SMEs a whole lot of credit.
Every single one of them put up their hand and said, If you need me to do a one-on-one conversation, shoot them my way.
And they, again, went out of their way to have these one-on-one conversations or participating team smaller team huddles, as appropriate.
In addition to the formal communications that we did with them, whether in the videos that you see here, webinars participating in our employee town halls, as subject matter experts talking to the broader organization, They were willing to just do whatever they could, to have conversations with whoever they needed to have, to, again, educate, inform, and allow employees to base their decisions on the data and the science behind it as well.
Next slide, please.
So, the targeted approach, and this just gives you a couple of examples.
I know it might be a bit of an eye chart to read, But all the tactics that we just talked about is what we employed. And then the middle column here, where you see that that's our intranet page, if you will.
Or, sorry, the daily newsletter That, pardon me, That went out on a daily basis, and you see, at the very top end, we were very transparent with where our numbers were at.
You know, as part of this, again, Don alluded to, and I've alluded to it, now, the data and the science behind it.
We talked every single day and showed our employees, know with real data that would be updated midnight every night With where we stood, what the community spread look like, where we were with our numbers, how many employees were vaccinated?
You know, how many people were in our hospitals that Don referred to earlier in our ICU used to again demonstrate kind of what the community spread was, but also what the impact of covert and the Delta variant was having on our employees.
The other thing I wanted to mention, as part of that, that Don talked about earlier, when he shared that graph, with regards to where we were mid July, and August, early October, was our employees on warranty.
And so, if you, if you think back at those specific dates, in mid july, we were down to the single digits, if you will, of employees that were in quarantine.
Part of the decision making process from an operational standpoint. When we were at our peak in early January or February of this year, we had over 1200 employees that were out on quarantine.
As you can imagine, there's a health care system, any of those frontline, that impacts your service capabilities.
It impacts your resource, impacts, all those kinds of things, from an operational standpoint, to do the things that the community expects of you as a healthcare provider, It impacts our ability to do so.
And so as part of our data and analytics, when we saw the trends going up, and those exponential growth of our employees go on quarantine, that was a big part of that decision making process as well. And when we went from 80 to 400 to one thousand, in a matter of six weeks, that's massive.
To let the team know, we got up to above 1200 employees on quarantine, You know, at the height of not just January, February, but in the mid october timeframe as well, Once we announce the mandate and we'll share more about this and, you know, at the end, that dropped precipitously as a result of the vaccine mandates and what that allowed us to do was again have more providers or healthcare workers servicing our communities for their health care needs as well. But that kind of data, those kinds of points that we're talking about today, we were very transparent with those. From the beginning, we've been sharing that, frankly, to read the whole pandemic, but, in particular, we went and share it, even more details around that. So again, we were providing employees with as much data, as much science as we could, to give them the information that they needed. As part of this, that transparency, that authenticity of communication was also critically important as well.
Next slide. And I think I may have already touched on this.
I didn't. Sorry. I'm sorry.
The the misinformation that's out there. And you certainly don't need me to tell you that there's a lot of misinformation, about covidien vaccines that are out there, whether it be on social, on the nightly news, certainly on Facebook, and all the social media apps, and channels as well, and platforms, there's a lot of misinformation. And as part of a community that misinformation even exist in the healthcare setting as well. And so, part of our campaign was to address those, but, again, in authentic, transparent, non-judgemental ways it was based on facts, and we tried to be as concise as we could with the messaging, allowing, you know, links to experts like the CDC, So employees can go and dig up their own information. They didn't, necessarily, just have to rely on our experts.
If you will, they can go outside of the organization as well, We try to provide those helpful links and stories, and things of that nature, as well as part of this exercise. Next slide, please.
Other tactics that we employed, and I alluded to this earlier, is that, you know, it was really mirroring in some cases, some of the things that we get done externally.
and, and leveraging those from an internal perspective certainly as well, The other aspect of it when we talk about authentic and transparent communications and I did allude to this earlier, too, that partnership with HR was absolutely critical, you know, in this manner to because we really worked with them across all of our channels, the our internal social channels, our intranet stories are employee town halls, where we look to try to answer any question that came up, and there was a lot.
And we did our best to answer as many as we could, again, in a transparent way to, to, to correct any misinformation that was out there, to clarify areas where questions existed, or that needs to be clarified. But, more importantly, it was the bottom line was, we were being responsive as best as we could to every question that came in throughout the organization. And that partnership HR with HR was it was critical and allowing us to do that as well.
The other thing that we haven't mentioned so far is we did offer a cash incentive as part of this. And so, you know, Don might have no further comment on this, but at the end of the day, the senior executive team felt, you know, it was an innovative approach to offer a $500 bonus for lack of a better way of saying it. For those that were vaccinated by the deadline, as part of that incentive to get. And we can tell you, we don't have definitive data on this. But we can certainly tell you based on ad hoc, you know, you know, communications that have come through a variety of different channels, that employees were very appreciative.
Because, look, at the end of the day, let's let's, let's understand this. You know, Don talked about this. Before we introduced a mandate, we still have a good 70% of our employees who had already got vaccinated, they had already chosen to be vaccinated before the mandate was there. And so, you know, this added $500 incentive was not only applicable to, you know, the remaining, if you will, employees that were unvaccinated, but even those that were part of that 70% group, that were early adopters to the vaccines, if you will, as well.
And the last thing was we encourage dialog, know we didn't try to stifle it. And, again, we're now in this sort of webinars setting will be honest with you, to say, you know, we, based on our conversations with other health systems, and we were expecting there to be protests. We were expecting there to be some, you know, obviously very vocal, no objections to the mandate, and those kinds of things, as well.
We didn't discourage any of those things, because that's not what, you know, we stand for as an organization. You know, we believe in free speech, we believe in those kinds of things, and, and so that wasn't what we wanted to do. We encouraged the debate.
Again, I go back to what we said before, our objective was to educate and inform and allow individuals to make up their own decision on whether the vaccine was for them or not.
Next slide, please.
Don, I think I'm going to pass it over to you.
Talk a little bit about some of the outcomes, OK, great, yeah. The results, I think, speak for themselves as of, as of November fifth.
We have 100% of our staff who've met or complied with our vaccine policy.
So, that means they've either been fully vaccinated or they were granted an exception, an exemption qualified exemption.
Um, and just to underscore, every single one of those individuals was eligible for that cash incentive, either. Even the folks who qualified for the exemption because they follow the process, and they stayed with us through, through the process and through your mandate.
That means that since the mandate was announced, an additional 7000 employees were vaccinated, that's a significant number in two months, we, I will tell you the organization, the leadership.
What is pleasantly surprised that we were able to achieve such a significant number in a short amount of time.
And, and retain such and such a large number of our employees.
Um, as Emile mentioned earlier, you know, we can't be here for our communities during a pandemic if our employees themselves are sick with the virus or out because they've been exposed to the virus. And so, reducing the number of employees on a quarantine, reducing the number of employees who test positive was also a goal and that number has dropped by 50% since August 25th.
So, any worry about retention of employees because of the mandate, was far, far out stripped by the number of employees we now have available work, because they're no longer under quarantine, the balance they're insignificantly tilts in the favor of the mandate, being effective.
And, uh, really a fraction of a fraction, were terminated as a result of this.
150 out of a workforce of 24,000, 0.6%.
Which was similar to what we were hearing from our colleagues who had gone earlier and said, it'll probably be around 1% or less. And, and we saw a similar results. And perhaps even a better result than, maybe others experienced.
We can account, I'll just add full transparency account for for voluntary terminations, folks who opted to leave.
We did have some resignations during that period, difficult to account for whether those were driven by the mandate or not.
What I'm, what I've heard and Emile keep me honest here is that that that rate of voluntary termination is folks who left on their own, was no greater than it typically is in any other period.
So we don't believe that was a significant driver of folk's sort of quitting.
Um, and I think the other way to explain that is recruitment between January and October was up 100% year over year. So we continued to attract employees even after we announced the mandate. And the mandate was well communicated and understood in the communities. We were attracting new employees to the organization.
Um, then we did have to suspend non elective procedures, or which say, elective procedures in September.
And we're looking to bring those back online now. And that was due to the fact that we just didn't.
one, we were full with coven patients.
And to we are workforce was constrained because of quarantine. And folks out ill.
So we're are now in a position where we can bring back elective procedures.
And with that, Brian, I think we're ready to take some questions, perhaps, Dan, how would you characterize the employee responds to the mandate?
Both in those months leading up to the November first deadline, and now in this short period of time post deadline, How would you characterize employee response overall?
Um, I would say, I would put it in in a couple of different categories. The 70% of the workforce who had already been vaccinated, their response was overwhelmingly supportive.
And we're thrilled that the organization was taking this step to ensure that they were safer coming to work.
I think, you know, when we were, when we were debating the policy, we were so focused on the 30% who had not been vaccinated That it can easily you can easily lose sight of the 70% who had been and what are their concerns. And we talked about this being data driven week.
We frankly, we we were interested in why the 30% hadn't been.
But I think we were also very much aware that we were also speaking to a 70% majority who had concerns about taking the virus home to there, non vaccinated children because, you know, only until recently, could young children get vaccinated.
Who have family members that they don't want, they just you know, and and and with the breakthrough infections that we're starting to be announced. I think, you know, we had rightfully we had a 70% of our workforce concern there. I think the other, but then the reaction to the folks who had not been vaccinated, I think, was also a bit mixed.
We did have a strong vocal minority who expressed displeasure.
Um, and that did happen publicly, you know, on social media.
There, there were some protests, some tickets outside, a couple of our hospitals in the early days after the announcement that garnered some local media attention.
But, again, that, that was a minority, and many of the folks involved in that were not employees.
So, we were targeted by organizations that were not interested in the vaccine or not supportive of the vaccine.
And, you know, joined by maybe some of our workforce, but certainly not not.
The majority of those voices were employees, But then, I think, you know, to what Neil said earlier, most of that 30% were people who needed additional information, and it was, I'm going to repeat this. We've said it a couple times.
We tried to do this in the most non-judgemental way. We could do that when the most respectful way, we could. We understand there's a lot of misinformation out there. We understand that you have legitimate concerns based on what you're hearing.
We want to set the record straight, provide you with all the information you need, gives you access to experts who can address your questions in whatever form is as convenient and easy for you to access as we can.
And and that's what we heard.
And I think ways that we heard a lot of gratitude from folks. And I'm just speaking from my staff, which is a very sliver of the workforce at Geisinger. But I had a I had a few dozen folks who needed to get across the finish line on the vaccine.
And I heard, personally, from a couple of them, who appreciated the, just the facts approach that we took, and that we weren't speaking down to them. We were not when digging a finger at them, tell me what you need to know, How can I help you address your questions? And that really was the approach, and I feel like, for the most part.
That was appreciated.
Very interesting point that for the vast majority of your employees, as you pointed out, which sometimes gets lost in these discussions, you know, even back when it was 70%, that's three quarters of your employees were favor and had already been vaccinated.
And also to hear that what really worked for you was pretty sensitive than having a very sensitive tone, showing empathy, not being judgemental. It sounds like that really made a difference for it.
It really did. It really did, you know, healthcare.
The healthcare workforce is as a lot of women who are, you know, starting families are raising families. That wasn't, that was a significant number in that 30%, and those are sincere concerns.
Anyone who's a parent can appreciate the, worry of, doing anything that could potentially bring risk to your child, or your ability to continue to grow your family.
So, I don't think that there was any, any value in being anything other than respectful of those worries, and just trying to address them head on with with science and facts.
And grace gratefully and mill referenced this, we had pregnant employees who were willing to be photographed and talk about being vaccinated while pregnant. We had breastfeeding employees who were willing to talk about it.
We had employees who were planning families who are willing to talk about it, and I think that peer-to-peer communication did make a difference for certain folks. I think that's the other way that you can demonstrate empathy and respect it, is by, not always having it come from the corporate suits or. From a.
No impersonal channel like a newsletter, but to, to put a face on it.
A voice on, on the message, that looks more like the audience, and it's basic, you know, best practice communications, but in the rush too, address a pressing need, sometimes we lose that.
And I think, in this case, it works in credit to Emile and his team for it, the good work that lets storytelling and the messaging.
I know that sensitivity is a big part of your DNA as an organization.
Interesting, that it also proved to be very effective from a communication standpoint as well.
Well, in a couple of minutes here, we're going to transition to the Q and A portion of the program, but I just want to remind you that to enter a question, if you have it, all you have to do is go to your control panel on your screen, enter it in and hit Send, and we'll be sure to have the guys respond to those during the Q&A portion of the program. But, before we transition to the Q and A, Don and Emile, let's wrap up the presentation portion by having you provide us with your key takeaways for your formula, from the formula for success, if you will, with your vaccine mandate communications.
John, I'm happy to kick that off. Brian, if you will.
Know, I think I shouldn't preface what I'm going to say with the fact that, you know, at the end of the day, the decision was made based on, you know, public health.
That's why, you know, the executive team made the decision to mandate the vaccine and we shared some data with regards to whether it be employee quarantine numbers.
The community spread that we're seeing, the impact to our hospitals with the numbers increasing exponentially, know, that was, first and foremost, a decision that was made. And the reason why we shared that, very transparently with, with our employees, I think that was part of it.
I'm developing a comprehensive campaign to communicate that, as we've referenced today, was, I can played a key role in our. But it wasn't just about communications, partnership with all the various teams.
And even more that both online talked about today, or alluded to different ways, I think part of it was driven by the targeted communications in terms of the effectiveness, Don just illustrated that again.
So, I won't go into too much detail, but that was critical, talking to. And, again, it was this idea that, you know, the team, we want to leave. no rock on term, If we can. If we can convince one more person with the information and the education that, they needed to make a decision, that's what we're going to do.
And those communications were integral as part of that, as well. And, you know, you've heard of both of us say this now, leveraging what we learned from from other healthcare systems was hugely critical. There. There's so many out there that are willing to share best practices, including ourselves, you know, including are willing to share kind of what we've developed from a messaging standpoint of otherwise. that was critical to us, and again, as we referenced earlier on, where we're happy to do that, if that's helpful for, for anyone listening on today's call as well. Those are some of the key things and I'll pass it over to Don to wrap it up.
Thanks Emile, um.
I guess I would just add that, I think you've already touched on this, the consistency and repetition was critically important.
And, and, yeah, we talked about sensitive tone.
They're being prepared, our leadership took several steps to adapt to the reduced staffing levels, to replace our staff.
But, you know, it were pleasantly surprised and pleased that we didn't lose as many staff as we leave, thought we would, So, I think we were ..., we were over prepared for that, which is a good place to be.
And, you know, hard to quantify the value of the cash incentive, but I think it did make a difference.
There is anecdotal feedback from employees that they appreciated it. They saw it as, a thank you for just the last two years of what they've been going through.
And I think it didn't make a difference.
At this point, Let's, first of all, thank you, Don, and Emile, very much, for what was a very timely presentation, both for you and for our audience, I know. So thank you very much for that, and let's transition here to the Q and A portion with our audience.
And the first question that we have is for data.
And the question is, can you tell us about how closely you worked with Geisinger's senior management in developing and implementing the Vaccine Mandate campaign?
We were fully embedded with senior leadership on this decision, in this process. Both Emile and I were in frequent meetings.
There were discussions daily, if not more than once a day on on how we would implement this.
We were at the table for the discussions, which I think, you know, and all credit to Geisinger and our leadership team understanding the critical importance of communications and messaging and the need to do that incredibly well. Our CEO, doctor J one Rule has said many times during the pandemic that this is this pandemic is largely an exercise in communications.
Because of one, the misinformation that's out there that need to communicate in a very dynamic environment with a lot of changing information.
So with all credit to doctor Ruin, his leader, senior leadership team, we have been at the table throughout and fully engaged in. And I think the work of Emile and his team have been highly valued, and I greatly appreciate that.
And, you know, it wasn't just those conversations were not just tactical.
They were strategic, we had conversations about, you know, if we say this or how we approach that.
What could be the downstream?
And I will say that the leadership team's questions and, and they're provoking ideas with us, got the, or brought the organization to the right right decision at the right time.
Thanks, Don.
And another question that we have here from the audience is, and I'll direct this to Emile, Now that you know that your mandate deadline has passed, what do you envision your post deadline communication strategy to staff your internal communication strategy being post deadline moving forward?
That's a great question, Brian.
You know, considering we're just three days out, if you will, from from the, well, business, days, out, from the deadline. It's something that we're still following up on.
I will tell you that, you know, as part of our exemption policy, if you were approved for exemption, there was a testing component.
And so, there's been a lot of communications starting from last week on what that testing component looks like. And making sure that managers and employees are well aware of the process and the procedures to be able to, you know, continue with that aspect of it. So, there's been a heavy emphasis on that aspect of it. I will tell you, when I was sharing with you early on, before we jumped on, this call, is that, you know, close behind the COVID 19 mandate of actually, mandate, we have our flu mandate.
That's due at the end of this month as well. And so, you know, just to level set with folks that might be listening in, you know, we don't just have over 100 meg mandate vaccine mandate. You know, we have vaccine mandates for a variety of different, no other diseases, et cetera, as well. And, flu certainly is there as well, and that's coming around the corner from already started.
Started, frankly, the flu mandate communications as we're going through with a COVID 19 vaccine mandate communications, but we had to tamp down to ensure that we got over the finish line of COVID.
And now are starting with, you know, an added extra emphasis on the flu mandate as well. So, it's ongoing communications are covered work because the spread is still there and the communities. Or hospitals. Or exterior still, experiencing sort of a flattening, at least we've sort of gone down a little bit. But we're planning we haven't gone down significantly as in some areas of the country as it relates to adopt a variance. So our code communications continues to be still, it's still a major part of what we communicate, both internally, and certainly externally as well, but that has not gone away. We continue to the education of the information. because part of this is not taking the foot off the accelerator with social distancing As We all know, we've got Thanksgiving in the round the corner, so all of our communications still revolve around coven.
So, even if, as we prepare for Thanksgiving messages. and so remind folks to stay safe, to mask if indoors, you try to stay socially distance, and we continue encouraging people to vaccinate even those, you know, in our employee base that are currently not vaccinated from an exemption standpoint as well. As a part of our job is to make sure that we still communicate. Know kind of what the situation of covert and various variants are within our communities, as well as ongoing.
We have time for one more question. In your internal campaign, how much did you quit your CEO, front and center? You mentioned the use of SMEs, you know, medical experts from Geisinger to help address some of the concerns And questions at staff had. How much did you have your CEO outfront in internal communications?
That's a great question. I'm happy to kick that off on and, you know, feel free to jump in.
Oh, no, we had doctor Rowe and quite a few of our communications.
But, at the same time, it was really important for us, and I think, you know, senior leadership understood this, is that at the end of the day, employees want to hear from their direct supervisors, you know, not just the CEO. You know, not just this, nice. And so, now, I will say that we had a lot of our subject matter experts out there with, like I mentioned before, like we've mentioned before, pardon me, with webinars and virtual meetings, one on ones, But we had a lot of manager communications with directly with their staff, as well.
And so, whilst you know, doctor ..., as a CEO, was out there in front, as the public face to this, both internally and externally, we really relied on a lot of our SMEs, as well as our managers, to ensure that they were communicating directed. So they were a big part of it.
I couldn't put it in percentage terms, but if I were hazard A guess, it would probably be around 20, 25% of the CEO, you know, in terms of the actual tactics, if I talking about it from that perspective.
But, man, the number of tags we had, I mean, it was, it took an army of people to get that done.
And I would say that we used everyone that we could, including the CEO, but this was really an all hands on deck. And again, as I referenced before, those manually communications were the most critical. And I will tell you that they really helped us get over the finish line, if you will, to making sure that they had the right communications with their employees. And they were able to direct them if they didn't have the answers, in terms the prepared FAQs and messaging that we had provided to them, if they knew where to go for that, as well.
And so, that was a huge part of that, as well. So, I'm not sure if that answers the question, but I was probably if I would hazard a guess, it would be about 25%.
Thanks Emile, and that's all the time that we do have for questions from the audience. Thank you very much for participating in the Q&A.
And at this point, I want to close the webinar by thanking Don and Emile so much against such a timely topic, Both for our audience and certainly for you with where you're at having just passed your deadline. Having just sent out the termination notices and dealing with all that, we know that keep you and your team very busy. So, we certainly thank you so much for taking the time to be with us, and share your insights and key stories today.
Just a reminder that you will receive an e-mail with a link to the webinar recording as soon as it's been released, so you can look for that in the next day or two. If you'd like to go back and re listen to key portions of today's program and with that, I'd like to thank you for attending the webinar today and stay safe. Thank you for joining us.