Forty-four percent of working Americans say that the rise of the COVID-19 delta variant impacts their willingness to return to the workplace. Fifty percent of workers say the variant has increased concerns about contracting COVID-19. Most workers say the variant means they will take extra precautions at work (61 percent) and in their personal life (64 percent). Employees indicate that they would feel more comfortable in their workplace (64 percent) than going to a restaurant (36 percent) during the ongoing pandemic.
This workforce sentiment research from Eagle Hill Consulting comes as federal regulators have granted full approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine and as many employers announce delays in back to the workplace plans due to rising COVID-19 delta variant cases, hospitalizations and deaths, largely among the unvaccinated.
When asked about whether unvaccinated employees should pay higher insurance rates, a large share of workers (41 percent) are supportive. Gen Z workers were least supportive of higher insurance rates (23 percent), while Baby Boomers were most supportive (45 percent).
The 2021 Eagle Hill Consulting COVID-19 Vaccines and the Workplace Survey measures employee sentiment about COVID-19 vaccines, returning to the workplace, as well as testing and safety protocols.
“Approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is a game changer for employers,” says Melissa Jezior, Eagle Hill Consulting president and chief executive officer. With Food and Drug Administration licensing, more employers could mandate worker vaccinations.”
“At the same time, the COVID-19 summer surge is upending employers return to the workplace plans,” Jezior said. “A large portion of the workforce is worried about the delta variant, and many employers are taking action. They’re delaying going back to the workplace, announcing vaccine mandates, and keeping health and safety protocols in place.”
“The key for employers is to remain flexible and listen to employee views so they are best positioned to navigate through even more COVID-19 uncertainty. It’s even more important for employers to fully understand what employees want given the acute labor shortage. Unlike the early days of the pandemic, workers aren’t afraid to quit their jobs. Retaining talent means creating a culture and work environment – virtual or in person – that is aligned with employee preferences,” Jezior explained.
Conducted by Ipsos from August 8-11, 2021, this national survey includes 1010 employees across the U.S. This poll follows similar research conducted from April 7-9, 2021, Feb 5-9, 2021, and from December 4-8, 2020.
Employees are split on actions employer should take before returning to in-person work, according to the research.
- Employees are evenly split (50/50) as to whether employers should mandate vaccines before workers return to the workplace.
- Employees are slightly more supportive (58 percent) of employers asking about worker vaccination status.
- Workers are split as to whether employers should provide proof of vaccination, with 52 percent supporting a documentation requirement.
- 60 percent of workers support employers offering incentives to vaccinated employees.
- Nearly two-thirds (63 percent) support employers instituting precautions for unvaccinated employees.
Employees are increasingly supportive of punitive actions for unvaccinated employees, the polling reveals.
- More than half (63 percent) of workers say non-vaccinated employees should not be given special allowances to work from home, up from 55 percent in April.
- Close to half of workers (51 percent) say non-vaccinated employees should not be allowed to travel for work, up from 44 percent in April.
- Nearly half of workers (44 percent) say non-vaccinated employees should not be permitted to work in-person with customers, up from 39 percent in April.
- Many workers (40 percent) say non-vaccinated employees should be not allowed to work in-person with co-workers, up from 35 percent in April.
- About three-fourths of workers (76 percent) say non-vaccinated employees should be able to stay with their employer, down from 83 percent in April.
There is broad support for employer COVID-19 testing and safety protocols according to the survey.
- Regarding social distancing, 77 percent concur that employers should require or encourage social distancing.
- Regarding masks, 73 percent agree on employers requiring or encouraging mask use.
- For temperature checks at the workplace, 67 percent say employers should encourage or require temperature checks.
- When it comes to regular COVID-19 testing for all employees, 61 percent support employers requiring or encouraging testing