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Rules of Engagement

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After the mountains of uncertainty that ushered in the year, the upsurge of Corona cases, and the explosive eruption of La Soufriere volcano; the drama continues as corporations are now confronted with resistance to the Covid 19 vaccine by the majority of the workforce. The sheer volume of information and misinformation about the vaccine has further added to the confusion in the minds of staff. Currently, the common man has to decipher what information can be taken to heart as truth and what cannot. While many are still processing and trying to come to an informed decision on whether taking the vaccine is in the best interest of themselves and their families, the situation has been exacerbated by the perceived force and threats of loss of employment and livelihood to the unvaccinated by those in authority.

As in the military, there are also rules of engagement in the corporate world. Rules of engagement dictate the appropriate response to specific unusual circumstances.

For instance, under certain conditions the use of force may be construed as necessary; while under other circumstances the situation may have become so unstable that an ‘iron fist’ approach may only increase the scepticism, hostility and tension in the atmosphere. Consequently, what should be the response of our management professionals in relation to the vaccination or lack thereof of their staff?

On the one hand, some believe that one approach is to provide information and education, give employees a choice and use encouragement, incentives and other forms of persuasion to tip the scale towards being vaccinated.

They believe that while it may take longer to achieve herd immunity and a perceived safe society, individuals would be more inclined to be vaccinated as more information reduces fears and concerns.

On the other hand, others believe the use of threats of disciplinary action and ignoring individual health and religious concerns, would accelerate the vaccination intake, thus providing some sense of normalcy sooner rather than later. Needless to say, that this approach will also produce a herd of distrusting and disengaged employees, who feel betrayed by the organisation because they were not trusted to make their own decision but instead were compelled to choose between the jab or their job. Irrespective of the approach, there is a right and a wrong way of engagement under the present circumstances and management and staff need be careful to know and follow the rules of engagement.

Dr. Wendyann Richardson is a Management Consultant who specializes in corporate governance, business operations management and refining of skills through training.

She can be reached at [email protected] gmail.com

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