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Nearly two-thirds of Seattle workers say employers should require COVID-19 vaccination proof, according to new Eagle Hill Consulting research

Seattle employees split on whether unvaccinated employees should return to work in-person 
Employees in Seattle anticipate different workplace, want employers involved in safety protocols

Seattle, Wash., April 29, 2021  In a new survey of employee sentiment toward COVID-19 vaccines, Seattleites have significantly stronger opinions than workers nationwide about vaccines and safety protocols in the workplace. Sixty-foupercent of Seattle workers believe that employees returning to the workplace should be required to provide COVID-19 vaccination proof, 63 percent agree that employers should mandate vaccines, and 61 percent believe employers should offer vaccine incentives. Nearly half (48 percent) of Seattle workers say non-vaccinated employees should be not be permitted to work in-person with co-workers. 

Seattle employee sentiments differ substantially from national polling, in which forty-nine percent of U.S workers believe that employers should require vaccination proof, while 48 percent said employers should require vaccines. And, 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 vaccination rates ramp up in the state, with about 29 percent of Washingtonians fully vaccinated. But, significant COVID-19 challenges remain for Seattle employers given increasing cases in some counties and concerns about highly infectious new variants

The 2021 Eagle Hill Consulting Seattle 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 April 7-9, 2021, this national survey includes 523 respondents from a random sample of employees in Seattle. 

“Our state’s public health officials have made tremendous strides getting Washingtonians vaccinated, which is enabling economic and business recovery,” says Carrie Miceli, who heads Eagle Hill’s Technology, Media and Entertainment practice from the Seattle office. “But, Seattle employees have concerns and differing views on a range of COVID-19 issues, and this creates a complex situation for employers to navigate.” 

“Most Seattle workers support vaccine mandates and proof, but are split on how to best manage unvaccinated workers,” Miceli explained. “For example, should employees who choose to remain unvaccinated be permitted to interact in-person with customers and colleagues, and should they be given special permission to work remotely?”  

“Given that Seattle employees have differing views on these important COVID-19 issues, it is critical that employers keep the lines of communication open with employees. This means engaging in a dialogue with employees and responding to their concerns. The research also indicates that Seattle employees anticipate their workplace will be different, but we know that change often is met with resistance. Employers are wise to map out a change management strategy now, especially because workplace changes that involve employee health and safety are particularly complicated,” Miceli said. 

Differing Seattle Employee Views on Unvaccinated Employees

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

  • More than half of Seattle workers (52 percent) say non-vaccinated employees should not be allowed to travel for work. 
  • Half of Seattle workers say non-vaccinated employees should not be given special allowances to work from home.
  • Nearly half of Seattle workers (49 percent) say non-vaccinated employees should not be permitted to work in-person with customers. 
  • About half of Seattle employees (48 percent) say non-vaccinated employees should be not allowed to work in-person with co-workers. 
  • The vast majority of Seattle employees (80 percent) say non-vaccinated employees should be able to stay with their employer.  

Seattle Employees Have Mixed Views on Returning to the Workplace

The research also indicate that many Seattle workers feel employers should exercise caution in re-opening workplaces, with 50 percent indicating employers should wait to re-open workplaces as vaccines roll out.

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

  • More than half (55 percent) expect the number of people working from home will be different. 
  • Fifty-two percent expect their physical workplace will be different. 
  • Almost half (46 percent) expect people will be working further apart.
  • Forty-six percent expect requirements for testing for COVID-19 symptoms will be different. 
  • Forty-three percent expect requirements for sanitation like mask wearing will be different. 

COVID Testing & Safety Protocols

In terms of COVID testing, most (43 percent) say that employers should cover the costs for any employer-mandated tests. Twenty-five percent say the federal government should bear the costs, while 16 percent say insurance providers or state/local government (11 percent) should pay for required tests. Only five 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