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More than half of greater Boston employees say employers should require vaccines in the workplace, according to new Eagle Hill Consulting research

Employees split on whether unvaccinated employees should return to work in-person 

Employees anticipate different workplace, want employers involved in safety protocols

Boston, Mass., June 3, 2021  In a new survey of employee sentiment toward COVID-19 vaccines, 59 percent of Greater Boston area workers believe that employers should require vaccinations for employees in the workplace. Sixty-one percent say employers should require COVID-19 vaccination proof, while 56 percent believe employers should offer vaccine incentives. Forty-four percent of Boston area workers say non-vaccinated employees should not be permitted to work in-person with co-workers. 

Greater Boston employee sentiment differs somewhat from national polling, in which 48 percent of U.S. workers said employers should require vaccines and 49 percent believe  employers should require vaccination proof. Also, fewer U.S. workers (35 percent) agree that non-vaccinated employees should not work in-person with co-workers. 

This workforce sentiment research from Eagle Hill Consulting comes as vaccinations continue to  rise in the region and on the heels of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announcement that fully vaccinated adults can safely resume activities indoors or outdoors without masks or distancing.   

The 2021 Eagle Hill Consulting Boston 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 May 12-17, 2021, this survey includes 536 respondents from a random sample of employees in the Greater Boston area.  

“This polling is a tool Greater Boston employers can use as they develop protocols for returning to the workplace,” says Jonathan Gove who manages Eagle Hill’s Boston office. “Many workers in the area view vaccine mandates and vaccination proof as important to workplace safety. And despite the CDC’s new guidance on masks and social distancing, Bostonians still want employers involved in encouraging these safety precautions.”

The Eagle Hill polling was fielding as the CDC announced the new guidelines.  

“A sticky issue for employers is how to manage unvaccinated employees in the workplace. A sizeable portion of the Boston workforce (44 percent) believe that non-vaccinated employees should be not allowed to work in-person with co-workers, while more than half (56 percent) say non-vaccinated employees should not be given special allowances to work from home,” Gove explained. “One solution may be for more employers to offer vaccine incentives to help drive up vaccination rates and lessen employee anxiety about potential COVID-19 exposure at work.”  

“Given that the Boston workforce has differing views on many critical COVID-19 issues, it’s essential that employers continuously engage with employees on key decisions. This means really understanding employee views and responding to their concerns. The research also indicates that local employees anticipate their workplace will be different, but change often is met with resistance. This means employers need to develop smart change management strategies, especially because changes related to health and safety are particularly complex,” Gove said. 

Differing Greater Boston Employee Views on Unvaccinated Employees

In addition to split views on vaccinations, incentives and proof, the research finds that workers are split on how to manage unvaccinated workers. 

  • More than half of Boston area workers (55 percent) say non-vaccinated employees should not be allowed to travel for work. 
  • Nearly half of area workers (48 percent) say non-vaccinated employees should not be permitted to work in-person with customers. 
  • More than half (56 percent) of area workers say non-vaccinated employees should not be given special allowances to work from home.
  • Forty-four percent of Greater Boston employees say non-vaccinated employees should be not allowed to work in-person with co-workers. 
  • The vast majority of local employees (80 percent) say non-vaccinated employees should be able to stay with their employer.  

Boston Employees Expect a Different Workplace

Greater Boston workers anticipate that their workplace will be different when they return to the workplace. When asked about the disruption of COVID-19 on the workplace:

  • More than half (59 percent) expect the number of people working from home will be different. 
  • Fifty-two percent expect their physical workplace will be different. 
  • Nearly half (48 percent) expect people will be working further apart.
  • Forty-seven percent expect requirements for testing for COVID-19 symptoms will be different. 
  • Half (50 percent) expect requirements for sanitation like mask wearing will be different. 

COVID Testing & Safety Protocols

In terms of COVID testing, more than half (52 percent) say that employers should cover the costs for any employer-mandated tests. Twenty-three percent say the federal government should bear the costs, while 15 percent say insurance providers or state/local government (eight percent) should pay for required tests. Only two percent agree employees should pay. 

When asked about the role employers should play with COVID-19 precautions now that vaccines are widely available, there was broad support for employer involvement.  

Eagle Hill Consulting LLC is a woman-owned business that provides unconventional management consulting services in the areas of Strategy & Performance, Talent, and Change. The company’s expertise in delivering innovative solutions to unique challenges spans across the private, public, and nonprofit sectors, from financial services to healthcare to media & entertainment. Eagle Hill has offices in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, Boston, MA and Seattle, WA. More information is available at www.eaglehillconsulting.com.

Media Contact: Susan Nealon | 703.229.8600 | snealon@eaglehillconsulting.com | @WeAreEagleHill