For essential workers and others, staying home during the coronavirus pandemic hasn’t been an option. But for those fortunate enough to work from home, the COVID-19 vaccine might seem like a solution that allows them to return to the office safely.
However, for many of these employees, compulsory vaccination isn’t the solution they would most prefer. In fact, a new survey of U.S. workers found that wearing masks, social distancing and efforts to sanitize all ranked ahead of an employer-mandated vaccination among ways to safely return to the workplace.
The poll, conducted by employee survey firm Perceptyx, indicates that the sweet spot could be encouraging employees to get vaccinated — perhaps even providing an incentive to do so — but stopping short of requiring it.
Opinions split on requiring vaccinations
At times during the pandemic, even the idea of wearing a face mask has become a divisive issue. For employers hoping to avoid the same fate around vaccinations, understanding their staff members’ views on this could be paramount.
There’s a fairly even split: 47% of workers said they believed their employers should require vaccinations to return to the office, while 43% said such a mandate would force them to consider leaving their job.
With vaccine distribution already rolling out in the U.S., a minority of respondents (38%) said their organizations are moving ahead with a vaccination requirement. A larger share (50%) reported that their employer merely encouraged them to be vaccinated, if possible.
Most workers favor vaccine encouragement, rather than requirement
A large share of American workers already intend to get a coronavirus vaccination, but a nudge from employers might increase that number further, according to the survey results.
Nearly 53% of respondents said they would get vaccinated if the shot were available today, while 56% would do so if their employer recommended it. That percentage grew to 60% when respondents were asked about getting the vaccine in exchange for a $100 bonus from their boss.
The survey also found that workers are more likely to follow their employer’s guidance to get vaccinated if they:
- Have a strong relationship with their manager
- Fear severe symptoms of COVID-19
- Have previously been tested for the coronavirus
Among respondents 25 and older, male workers were slightly more likely than their female peers to say they’d get vaccinated if their employer encouraged them to do so. However, males 18 to 24 were the least likely cohort across gender and age to say they would get the vaccine under this scenario.
Many have vaccination concerns
Aside from bristling at a potential requirement to be vaccinated before returning to the workplace, employees have other worries about vaccination.
While over 67% of workers said they generally saw the research and development of the COVID-19 vaccines as "trustworthy," 6 in 10 also said they were fearful of potential side effects. These trust issues could certainly impact the success of mandatory vaccinations in the workplace.
In addition, those who are all-in on vaccines might not consider it safe to return if even some of their colleagues aren’t. Nearly two-thirds of respondents (64%) said they wouldn’t feel comfortable being in their company’s workspace until all staff were vaccinated.
Methodology: Perceptyx’s panel research study recently surveyed 1,000 working Americans.