Integrators Share Struggles of Adjusting to COVID Vaccine Requirements

Companies are faced with the difficult task of satisfying customers while also respecting the views of employees. Here’s how a trio of integrators are navigating these challenges.

If your company hasn’t started talking about COVID-19 vaccination requirements, you should consider doing so now. Some of your clients may be asking any on-site workers to be vaccinated, and depending on your size and location, your own employees may need to be vaccinated.

This vaccination requirement was discussed at NSCA’s Pivot to Profit in September with companies during a dinner session talking about a variety of approaches they take. Some said they simply encourage their employees to get vaccinated, while others offer incentives and paid time off to get the shot.

You may still be wrestling with a decision on whether to enforce vaccination requirements for your employees or not. This is one of the largest decisions companies must face right now, so insight from your peers may go a long way.

SSI sister site Commercial Integrator asked some integrators about their vaccination requirements, and this is what they said:

Abby Wolfe, director of marketing and communications, Cory’s Audio Visual, Oklahoma City

Abby Wolfe: Cory’s Audio Visual is asking our employees, contractors and freelancers to be fully vaccinated and/or compliant by Dec. 8, 2021. We are currently 96% vaccinated.

Side note — we also went optionally mask free in the office once we reached 80% vaccinated way back in April of 2021. As a company, we wear masks in public settings like live events and on the jobsite.

We allow extra time off to receive the vaccination and to recover from any adverse effects. We have consistently pointed to the CDC and the White House to educate our employees both on federal regulations, the effects of COVID, and the research on vaccines. We used information from the CDC to also educate on other illnesses and bacteria in order to encourage a clean working environment moving forward. Those efforts also led to a “scrub club” disinfecting team.

In light of federal regulations [on COVID-19 vaccination requirements], many of our clients and their vendors are required, or soon to be required, to be vaccinated. Because our company specializes in both commercial integration and live event production, it didn’t take much convincing for our employees to want to get back to work safely, particularly in events.

Our team really banded together on this matter. It began as a means to take care of each other, our families and our clients. That was evident when 90% of our team was vaccinated by May of 2021. As federal worker mandates were being discussed, it really became about protecting our business and continuing to work with federal-level and large corporate clients.

Scott Wright, CEO, Lifeline Audio Video Technologies, Platteville. Wis.

Scott Wright: Vaccines are a touchy subject as people are so passionate about their feeling of “which side of the fence” they are on. We have not had any customer require us to show proof of vaccination before entering their building. The mask mandate is a different story as this is different county to county where we live. Some counties are requiring masks before entering every building while others are not. Same thing for schools and universities. Some are requiring masks, even if their county is not requiring it.

I, as an owner, have not mandated vaccinations for my employees to continue to work for Lifeline. I have asked every employee to meet me in private and state if they are vaccinated or not. Their answer does not affect anything that has to do with their employment, advancement within my company, pay, etc. The reason I ask the question is so that if I ever do have a customer that requires only vaccinated employees enter their building, then I can comply with this request.

It’s interesting as I currently have an opening for a sales position. Last week I interviewed a very qualified candidate who has been working as a salesperson for a medical company the last 5+ years and has been quite successful. He loves his job, his boss, the company culture, etc. He could not say enough good things about his current employer except that they are requiring vaccinations by a certain date in December. There is no “discussion” about it with his current employer. You get the vaccination by this particular date, or you are immediately let go. I actually feel really bad for this person to be put in this position.

What I find interesting is that, even though he works sales for a medical company, the majority of his time is spent doing sales online or over the phone and not face to face or in person. He now has to make a choice: get a vaccination that he feels passionate about not wanting in his body, to keep his job and is the “safe thing” to do for his family financially or stick to his strong belief about not wanting to get vaccinated and find a different job, which is a major decision/risk for him and his family.

The vaccine discussion, and challenging decisions with employment and how to handle it as an industry and for employment, is not going away any time soon. COVID-19 is not going away. These challenging discussions will continue to be part of things we navigate as owners and an industry.

My stance as an owner is to stay as open minded as possible and respect employees/customers feelings and requirements while keeping my staff as safe as possible.

Aaron McArdle, founder and CEO, RoomReady, Normal, Ill.

Aaron McArdle: We’re not mandating vaccines for our employees, but many of our customers are requiring vaccines to enter their facilities. We’re respecting our customers’ vaccination requirements and not sending anyone that hasn’t been vaccinated to their offices.

We have offices in the Midwest and both coasts, so our employees have a wide range of opinions and beliefs. We’re encouraging everyone to be considerate of one another, do what makes sense for them, and be respectful of others’ decisions.

We aren’t offering any additional incentives such as gift cards. We are allowing people to take paid time off to get the vaccine and also to recover from any adverse effects from the shot. That time doesn’t count against any accrued PTO.

We promote CDC information and provide resources through our health insurance provider. We haven’t been asked for much from our employees. I know the IBEW has taken a proactive pro-vaccine approach and has provided additional information to our Union Technicians.

We have told our employees that we are not mandating the vaccine unless required by law at some point in the future. We’re waiting on guidance from OSHA to better understand compliance to the proposed legislation for organizations with over 100 employees.

We believe that each person is responsible for and capable of making the decision that’s appropriate for them. We’re encouraging everyone to feel free to do what’s best for them, be considerate of others, and be respectful of others’ decisions.

Many of our customers are requiring vendors to show proof of vaccination to be allowed access to their facilities. We respect their decision, and only send vaccinated employees to preform work for those customers. We also strictly adhere to all mask and/or testing requirements.

Vaccination is not currently a condition of employment. During the interview process we ask candidates the following question:

“Many of our customer require proof of vaccine to be allowed on site. Are you able to meet that [vaccination] requirement?”

This article first appeared on SSI sister publication Commercial Integrator.

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