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Nearly half of U.S. workers say employers should require COVID-19 vaccines, new Eagle Hill research finds

Employees want continued employer involvement in parameters around masks, social distancing, testing and temperature checks

Arlington, Va., December 14, 2020 – As the U.S. prepares to administer the coronavirus vaccine following Federal Drug Administration emergency approval last week, national research finds 49 percent of working Americans believe employers should require COVID-19 vaccines in the workplace. And even when a vaccine is in place, the vast majority of workers want employers to require or encourage masks, social distancing, COVID-19 testing and temperature checks. 

employers should require COVID-19 vaccine

These findings are contained in the 2020 Eagle Hill Consulting COVID-19 Vaccines and the Workplace Survey conducted by Ipsos from December 4 -8, 2020. The survey included 1005  respondents from a random sample of employees across the U.S.

The research also finds that if employers require additional vaccinations following the initial round of inoculations, few believe employees should shoulder the cost (three percent). Instead, workers believe the federal government (38 percent), employers (25 percent), insurance providers (25 percent) or state/local government (eight percent) should pay for future required vaccinations. Also, more than half of employees (54 percent) believe that employers should pay for any COVID-19 testing required by employers.

“With COVID-19 vaccines in reach for workers, there indeed is reason to feel hopeful after a crushing year for families, businesses and the economy. But the road ahead will be complicated for employers, as our research indicates,” said Melissa Jezior, president and chief executive officer of Eagle Hill Consulting. “The workforce clearly is split on employer vaccine mandates, so it’s going to be contentious no matter where an employer lands on inoculation requirements.”

Already, there are substantial concerns among Americans about a COVID-19 vaccine. And, previous Eagle Hill research indicates employees have low trust in their employers to manage through this crisis.

Now, employers face many complex issues and decisions when it comes to vaccines. For example, should employers mandate vaccines before employees return to the workplace? Will employment be at risk if an employee refuses vaccination?  Will certain employees be exempt? Who will pay for any future employer mandated COVID-19 testing and vaccines?

“Employers must get in front of the vaccine issue today,” Jezior said. “There has never been a more crucial time for meaningful employee engagement, which could make or break organizations already struggling. It won’t be enough to just announce vaccine plans to employees. Instead, leaders are prudent to engage in conversations to understand the views of their workforce now to develop a vaccine strategy that is aligned with business goals and employee preferences.”

“There isn’t a one-size-fits all approach,” Jezior added. “Different industries will have different needs, and employees clearly have differing views as evidenced by the research. And when there is meaningful employee engagement, employers may discover new approaches. For example, employee incentives rather than mandates might be more appealing to workers.”    

The research indicates that the level of support for compulsory workplace vaccinations varies by age and gender. Support among men is at 53 percent, and lower for women (44 percent). Younger workers are most supportive of employer mandated vaccines (62 percent), followed by Millennials (50 percent), GenX (46 percent) and Baby Boomers (46 percent).

When asked about the role employers should play with COVID-19 precautions even after a vaccine is widely available, there was broad support for employer involvement. 

  • Regarding masks, 53 percent support an employer requirement and 32 percent support employers encouraging mask use.
  • Regarding social distancing, 40 percent support an employer requirement and 45 percent support employers encouraging social distancing.
  • Regarding personal protective equipment, 26 percent support an employer requirement and 38 percent support employers encouraging use of personal protective equipment.
  • When it comes to requiring regular COVID-19 testing, 24 percent support employer mandates and 46 percent support employers encouraging testing.
  • For temperature checks at the workplace, 44 percent of employees support mandates and 34 percent support employers encouraging temperature checks.

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