52% of Employers Expect to Implement Workplace Vaccine Requirements by End of 2021

52% of Employers Expect to Implement Workplace Vaccine Requirements by End of 2021

Many are considering financial incentives or surcharges to encourage workers to get vaccinated
masked coworkers greeting each other

As companies implement mass returns to workplaces, many are grappling with vaccine hesitancy among their workers.

New findings from Willis Towers Watson, a global insurance and advisory company headquartered in London, indicate that 52% of U.S. employers could implement one or more workplace vaccine mandates by the end of the year — a significant increase from the 21% of employers currently doing so.

In particular, the survey found that 29% of companies are planning or considering making vaccination a requirement to enter the workplace, while 21% are planning or considering it as a condition of employment.

Companies begin offering financial incentives, instituting surcharges to increase workforce vaccination rates

Almost 6 in 10 (59%) of U.S. companies report tracking the vaccination status of their workers, according to Willis Towers Watson, with another 19% planning or considering doing so this year.

Of this 59% who are tracking the vaccination status of their workforce, 62% require proof of vaccination (such as completed Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cards), while 36% depend on self-reporting from their employees.

Some employers are even offering financial incentives or instituting surcharges to boost their organization's vaccination rates further:

  • 17% of companies are offering financial incentives for getting vaccinated (the most common being cash payments of $100 to $199)
  • 14% of companies are planning or considering financial incentives for getting vaccinated
  • 2% of companies are offering a discount to vaccinated employees or imposing a premium surcharge on unvaccinated employees
  • 18% of companies are considering discounts, premium surcharges or both for their employees

"We have reached a point in the pandemic where employers that have worked hard to make it easy for employees to get vaccinated are also considering approaches to make it more difficult for employees to remain unvaccinated," says Jeff Levin-Scherz, population health leader at Willis Towers Watson.

"While some employers will institute more frequent testing, workplace restrictions on the unvaccinated and vaccination mandates, all will have one common goal in mind — to keep their workforce healthy and productive by minimizing the risk of spreading COVID-19 in the workplace."

Other pandemic-era safety guidelines remain in place In addition to implementing or considering vaccine mandate requirements, employers have also maintained other tactics to slow the spread of the coronavirus within their organizations. These include:

  • Mask requirements in indoor spaces (80%)
  • Workplace tracing to alert employees of potential exposure (75%)

Although nearly two-thirds of employer respondents (65%) don't expect their companies to return to a "new normal" until the first half of 2022, the establishment of these practices can help keep workers safe while also boosting their morale in the meantime.

For instance, a recent survey from Guardian showed that workers who thought their employers handled the pandemic well are more likely to display long-term loyalty to the company. And since more than 6 in 10 employees feel their work experience directly affects their ability to serve customers, companies may find that stricter pandemic-era workplace policies also improve their bottom line.

Methodology: Willis Towers Watson gathered data from 961 U.S. companies employing a total of 9.7 million workers for this survey, which was conducted from Aug. 18-25, 2021.