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View the latest results of the Employee Retention Index

U.S. workers split on employers requiring COVID-19 vaccination proof and management of unvaccinated workers, according to new Eagle Hill Consulting national poll

Younger workers more excited, anxious about returning to workplace
Employees expecting a different workplace; want employers involved in safety protocols

Arlington, Va., April 22, 2021  Forty-nine percent of working Americans believe that employers should require vaccination proof for those employees returning to the workplace. Similarly, about half (48 percent) of workers agree that employers should require vaccines, while 53 percent of workers believe employers should offer vaccine incentives to their employees. More than one-third of workers (35 percent) say non-vaccinated employees should be not be permitted to work in-person with co-workers.

This workforce sentiment research from Eagle Hill Consulting comes as vaccination rates ramp up across the U.S., with about 27 percent of Americans fully vaccinated. But, significant COVID-19 challenges remain for employers given the recent pause on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, increasing cases in many states, and concerns about highly infectious new variants

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. Read the infographic here.

Conducted by Ipsos from April 7-9, 2021, this national survey includes 1,027 respondents from a random sample of employees across the U.S. This poll follows similar research conducted from Feb 5-9, 2021, and from December 4-8, 2020. 

“The good news is that the U.S. is making incredible progress when it comes to getting shots in arms, which is helping to drive business and economic recovery,” says Melissa JeziorEagle Hill Consulting president and chief executive officer. “But, we’re continuing to see employee concerns and divided views on a wide range of COVID-19 issues, which creates an increasingly complicated  situation for employers.” 

“Workers remain split on employee vaccine requirements, and we’re also seeing differing views on whether workers should provide proof of vaccinations before returning to work,” Jezior added. “Another sticky issue for employers is how to handle employees who choose to remain unvaccinated – should they be permitted to interact in-person with colleagues and customers or be given special allowances to work from home?”  

“The bottom line for employers – they have to keep the lines of communication open with employees and really listen and respond to their concerns. Employees know their workplace will be different, but managing any type of change is often met with resistance. The stakes are even higher when workplace changes involve employee health and safety,” Jezior explained. 

Differing 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 (55 percent) of workers say non-vaccinated employees should not be given special allowances to work from home.
  • Close to half of workers (44 percent) say non-vaccinated employees should not be allowed to travel for work.
  • Many workers (39 percent) say non-vaccinated employees should not be permitted to work in-person with customers.
  • More than one-third of workers (35 percent) say non-vaccinated employees should be not allowed to work in-person with co-workers.
  • The vast majority of workers (83 percent) say non-vaccinated employees should be able to stay with their employer.

Employees Have Mixed Views on Returning to the Workplace

The research also indicates that many U.S. workers feel employers should exercise caution in re-opening workplaces, with 45 percent indicating employers should wait to re-open workplaces as vaccines roll out, up from 42 percent in February.  

Across generations, workers feel differently about returning to work:

  • Gen Z and Millennials are most excited about returning to workplace, 47 percent and 30 percent, respectively, which is substantially higher than their Gen X (26 percent) and Boomer (15 percent) counterparts.
  • Yet, younger workers are more concerned about contracting COVID-19 at work – Gen Z at 28 percent, Millennials at 26 percent, Gen X at 23 percent and Boomers at 14 percent.  
  • Also, younger workers feeling significantly more anxious about returning to the workplace – Gen Z at 25 percent, Millennials at 20 percent, Gen X at 13 percent and Boomers at 12 percent. 
  • Also, younger workers also are more concerned about balancing work and home – Gen Z at 23 percent, Millennials at 21 percent, Gen X at 17 percent and Boomers at nine percent. 

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 (51 percent) expect the number of people working from home will be different.
  • Nearly half (47 percent) expect their physical workplace will be different.
  • Almost half (45 percent) expect people will be working further apart.
  • Forty-three percent expect requirements for sanitation like mask wearing will be different.
  • Forty-one percent expect requirements for testing for COVID-19 symptoms will be different.

COVID Testing & Safety Protocols

In terms of COVID testing, most (51 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 14 percent say insurance providers or state/local government (nine percent) should pay for required tests. Only three 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