What employees want: COVID‑19 delta variant impacts on return to office plans

With the rise of the COVID-19 delta variant, the road ahead remains complicated as many employers are announcing delays or shifts in their return to work plans. The good news is nearly 2 in 3 employees (64%) are more comfortable going to their workplace than a restaurant but there are still concerns about what employees want for their return. Eagle Hill Consulting research finds employees have mixed views on issues including workplace re-openings, vaccination requirements, and how to treat unvaccinated employees. But, employees agree that they want employers involved in many parameters around workplace safety.

Employers that remain flexible and listen to employee views are best positioned to navigate through 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.

– Melissa Jezior, Eagle Hill President & CEO

The COVID-19 delta variant triggers workplace concerns for many U.S. workers

Given the rise in delta COVID-19 delta variant, does this impact: 


your willingness to go to the workplace


your fear of contracting the virus


precautions you take at work


precautions you take in your personal life

Employees are largely split on actions employers should take before returning to in-person work

Workers are evenly divided on whether employers should require employee vaccinations

Should your employer require vaccinations?

Many U.S. workers are supportive of employers asking about worker vaccination status

Should your employer ask about vaccination status?

58% YES
42% NO

Workers are evenly divided on whether employers should require proof of employee vaccinations

Should your employer require proof of vaccination?

52% YES
48% NO

Nearly 2 in 3 workers want employers to institute special precautions for unvaccinated

Should your employer institute special precautions for unvaccinated?

63% YES
37% NO

A strong majority of employees want their employers to offer incentives for vaccinated employees

Should your employer offer incentives (such as money, paid time off, gift cards, etc.) for vaccinated employees?

Employees are increasingly supportive of punitive actions for unvaccinated employees

Employees say unvaccinated colleagues should NOT be able to:


Be given special allowances to work from home

+8% since April


Travel for work

+7% since April


Work in-person with customers

+5% since April


Work in-person with co‑workers

+5% since April


Stay with their employer

+7% since April

Over 40% of workers also think unvaccinated employees should pay higher health insurance rates

Should unvaccinated employees be expected to pay higher health insurance rates?

41% YES
59% NO

Employees want their employers to play an active role in COVID-19 precautions

My employer should require or encourage employees to:


August: 77%
April: 84%
February: 89%


August: 73%
April: 81%
February: 87%

Have their
temperature checked

August: 67%
April: 74%
February: 81%

Receive regular
COVID-19 testing

August: 61%
April: 64%
February: 69%

Wear personal
protective equipment

August: 58%
April: 62%
February: 71%

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. Conducted by Ipsos from August 8-11, 2021, this national survey includes 1,010 respondents from a random sample of employees across the U.S. This poll follows similar research conducted from April 7-9, Feb 5-9, 2021, and from December 4‑8, 2020.