More than half (54%) of U.S. employees say they are worried about exposure to COVID-19 at their job, according to a new national poll by Eagle Hill Consulting. Workers indicate that several factors would make them feel safe going back to work: the availability of protective protections like masks, gloves, and hand sanitizer (58 percent); mandating employees with symptoms stay home (55 percent); and making COVID-19 tests available (53 percent).
Fifty-six percent say that employers have the right to know if workers have tested positive for COVID-19, while 43 support employers testing for symptoms. Few employees (17 percent) believe their jobs would be impacted by their test results.
These findings come as states across the nation begin to allow employers to bring workers back to their workplace, yet many experts and policymakers say that jurisdictions lack robust testing programs that are required to enable employees to safely return to work. Additionally, employers may encounter problems acquiring personal protective gear for employees, and there certainly will be increased costs for employers to protect the workforce.
In terms of what employees would like to sustain in a post COVID-19 world, workers would like employers to continue transparency and open communication from leadership (44 percent); remote work flexibility (42 percent); and employee wellness efforts (41 percent).
“In the coming weeks, employers and workers will encounter perhaps the most significant and rapid changes to the workplace we have ever encountered in modern history,” says Melissa Jezior, president and chief executive officer of Eagle Hill Consulting. “Change management is a steep struggle for most employers, and implementing such massive modifications to how we work will not be easy. The number one focus of employers right now should be employee engagement. That means understanding at the most granular level employee sentiment about COVID-19, their challenges returning to the workplace, and how to keep the workforce safe – and then taking action to address employee feedback,” Jezior explained.
“The good news is that employees have confidence (71 percent) that their employers can bring them back to work safely. But, that puts a big burden on employers. Employees want testing, protective gear and careful monitoring of the workforce. Those expectations for most companies will be difficult to deliver given shortages and high costs,” Jezior explained.
Key findings of the Eagle Hill Consulting COVID-19 Returning to Work Survey as follows:
- Fifty-four percent of U.S. employees say they are worried about exposure to COVID-19 at their job.
- Workers indicate that several factors would make them feel safe going back to their workplace – the availability of protective protections like masks, gloves and hand sanitizer (58 percent); mandating employees with symptoms stay home (55 percent); making COVID-19 tests available (53 percent); limiting the number of employees in the physical workplace (46 percent); and requiring physical distancing (45 percent).
- Fifty-six percent say that employers have the right to know if workers have tested positive for COVID-19.
- Forty-three percent of workers support employers testing for symptoms.
- Forty-four percent of employees want COVID-19 testing available through their doctor, 40 percent it from local government, while 39 percent want testing via their employer.
- Only 17 percent of employees believe their jobs would be impacted by their test results, and few (15 percent) have concerns about how employers will use COVID-19 test results.
- Most employees (71 percent) say their employers will be prepared to safely bring employees back to the workplace.
- Employees would like organizations to continue transparency and open communication from leadership (44 percent); remote work flexibility (42 percent); and employee wellness efforts (41 percent).
You can view a webinar review of the survey findings with Jezior and Stephanie Mount, Eagle Hill chief people officer here.
The 2020 Eagle Hill Consulting COVID-19 Workforce Burnout Survey was conducted online by Ipsos from April 22-27, 2020. The survey included 1,000 respondents from a random sample of employees across the U.S., polling respondents on returning to work amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
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