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Employees Split Over COVID-19 Vaccine Requirement

Many organizations are still grappling over when to return their workforce to the office and what it will look like when and if they do. For organizations hoping to get their employees back to the office in 2021, requiring they get vaccinated may not be the best option.

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According to a survey of more than 1,000 employees by Perceptyx, an employee survey and people analytics platform, 47% of those surveyed believe employers should require this of their employees, while 43% note they would consider leaving their organization if the vaccine was a requirement.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued guidance in December stating that employers can — with some exceptions — require employees to produce proof that they’ve received the coronavirus vaccination. However, there are still legal considerations for organizations.

The survey revealed that employees are slightly more likely to get vaccinated if their employer encourages them to do so, versus making it a requisite before returning to the office. Whereas 53% of employees are likely to get a vaccine if available today, 56% would get the vaccine if encouraged to do so by their employer. An even higher number (60%) would take it if their employers offered a monetary incentive of $100 to do so.   

“While there is no doubt COVID-19 vaccines are a welcome advancement in our fight against the pandemic, based on our data, they are neither the sole nor primary factor to employees feeling safe heading back to the office,” said Dr. Brett Wells, director of people analytics at Perceptyx. 

Employees who are most likely to follow through on their organization’s recommendation to get vaccinated are those who have stronger relationships with their managers, who believe their symptoms would be severe if contracted COVID-19, and those who have already been tested for COVID-19. 

“Those who feel sincerely cared about by their managers are more likely to trust and be persuaded by their employer's encouragement to get vaccinated,” Dr. Wells said. “This is just one more reason why great leadership and investing in the individual and unique needs of employees is critical to an organization's success.” 

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When asked specifically if they agreed with a number of statements, it is clear that employees have split sentiments about the vaccine. Key findings include:

  • 60% of respondents are fearful of the potential side effects of the vaccine, however more than 67% believe the research and development of the vaccine is trustworthy.
  • Half (50%) said their employers have encouraged them to get the vaccine when available, while 38% said their organizations are requiring it in order to return to the physical workplace.
  • Just over half (54%) would feel safe returning to the office if they were vaccinated, even if others weren’t, while another 64% believe there is no safe return to work until all employees are vaccinated. 
  • Those who are working remotely are more likely to believe there is no safe return without a vaccine — 68% versus 58% of essential workers who continue to work in the physical workplace. 

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