Employers Need to Frequently Update Return-to-Work Plans, Communicate Insights With Employees, Says Business Group on Health Podcast Guest

WASHINGTON, D.C., Feb. 22 – As COVID-19 vaccines become more widely available, employers worldwide will need to routinely update their return-to-work strategies and effectively communicate them to employees, said Dr. Leana Wen, former Baltimore health commissioner and visiting professor at the Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University.

“This is such a constantly and very quickly evolving situation,” Dr. Wen said on the latest Business Group podcast, adding that employers should tell employees “what you know, what you don't know and how plans are evolving.”   

Dr. Wen, a practicing emergency physician, a contributing Washington Post columnist and a CNN medical analyst, also underscored that employers around the globe need to customize their messaging.

If you’re going to be rolling out a vaccine strategy or if you’re going to be explaining the importance of vaccination, I would do that in an environment where vaccines are available or potentially assumed to be available. There are many countries where the vaccines are nowhere available on the horizon.

Dr. Leana Wen, George Washington University

Dr. Wen was in conversation with Ellen Kelsay, president and CEO of the Business Group on Health, the premier non-profit organization representing large employers’ perspectives on health, well-being and workforce strategy issues.

She also touched on the need for ongoing behaviors such as wearing masks and social distancing, especially as variants have emerged, and ideas such as “microcommunities” of herd immunity and vaccine passports in the near future.

The vaccine is not an “unconditional pass back to pre-pandemic life,” she said.

Guests on Business Group on Health podcasts share perspectives about relevant health and well-being issues facing employers as they support their workforces. Previous episodes have focused on such topics as confronting racism and prioritizing health equity; the case for honoring caregivers; and how the pandemic is accelerating the future.

During the previous Business Group on Health podcast, Dr. Bob Wachter, a nationally recognized expert on the pandemic, said the month of March would be critical in gaining some sense of control over the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr. Wachter, chair of the Department of Medicine at the University of California at San Francisco, also explored complex variables that could have an impact on achieving a suitable vaccination rate in March, including supply and distribution, emerging variants, the interconnectedness of countries around the globe, and the need to get accurate information to marginalized communities.

Early in the pandemic, the Business Group on Health made a wealth of materials available to the public and has since developed more robust resources for its members, including survey findings and benchmarking calls about employers’ strategies to encourage vaccination.

The Business Group on Health also publicly shared insights about addressing health inequity in promoting vaccine strategy, in connection with World Day of Social Justice earlier this month.<

About Business Group on Health

Business Group on Health is the leading non-profit organization representing large employers’ perspectives on optimizing workforce strategy through innovative health, benefits and well-being solutions and on health policy issues. The Business Group keeps its membership informed of leading-edge thinking and action on health care cost and delivery, financing, affordability and experience with the health care system. Business Group members include 70 Fortune 100 companies as well as large public-sector employers, who collectively provide health and well-being programs for more than 60 million individuals in 200 countries. For more information, visit