Reunited - Getting the Band Back Together

Looking at options for bringing your team back together?  If you’re wondering what could possibly meet the needs of all of the members of your team, you’re not alone.  It’s a lot like getting the band together for the first time after a long break and you have to relearn how to play together.  Expect some discord.


To help you conduct this, we did some homework on the most frequently asked questions about returning to the workplace.   Here’s what we learned:


Can employers ask for proof of vaccination?  

Yes, you can ask to see an employee’s vaccination card, but should not engage in actual medical inquiries.  


Can we require our employees to be vaccinated? 

Yes, especially if your organization is in an industry with a high risk of Covid transmission.  Having said that, our recommendation is to encourage but not require vaccinations.    


Is it true that unvaccinated employees still need to wear masks in common areas? 

Yes, that is the current rule in Michigan although it is subject to change on July 1st.  


Can an employee choose to wear a mask even if vaccinated? 

Yes, employees can continue to wear masks if they choose to do so.


Can employees wear masks with slogans/political statements? 

Maybe.  The standards here should be the same as your regular dress code requirements.  If you would not let an employee wear a certain statement or image on a t-shirt, you should not allow them to wear it on a mask.


We think we are communicating clearly, but our employees still seem confused.  Are we missing something? 

Only that this is a major change, and it is one that employees are going to adjust to gradually.  Be patient and over communicate using multiple channels, including in writing, in meetings, and one on one conversations to ensure a smooth transition.


We are concerned that the required wearing of masks for unvaccinated employees is going to highlight those employees with medical issues and/or amplify a political divide in the workplace. 

This is absolutely a valid concern.  While there is no easy answer, we encourage reminding all employees that we expect professional and respectful behavior in the workplace.  Demeaning, abusive, or bullying comments are not acceptable and should be addressed accordingly.  Likewise, no employee should be asked to share personal medical information with a co-worker.  


Years ago, I worked with a consultant/mentor who shared that with a wide variety of ideas, personalities, and activities, even the best organizations never sounded like a symphony.   However, the ones who were successful getting their diverse teams on the same page could create some really cool jazz.  


Getting through this past year has required a significant amount of improvisation.  As much as we’d like to put that behind us, we still have a ways to go.  


Let’s encourage our musicians to be creative, play their best, and trust that it’s going to come out sounding cool.

Kevin Brozovich

Kevin Brozovich


Meet Kevin Brozovich, energetic entrepreneur, people-focused team-builder and HR practitioner-turned consultant. For almost 10 years, Kevin was Founder and Chief People Officer of HRM Innovations, a Kalamazoo-based Human Resources consulting firm many would consider the top in the region. After pulling his hair out making daily decisions about running the business (does it matter where the coffee comes from?), Kevin joined forces with the Rose Street Advisors team so he could solely focus on what he loves most: working with clients.

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