More U.S. employers are now mandating vaccinations for those returning to the office (17%)¹ according to a new Gallagher survey, compared to the August survey (8%)². With fluctuating infection rates and increasing federal and state directives, many employers are adopting or considering new policies to protect the health of their employees and businesses.
The most recent Gallagher survey found that more than two-thirds of employers (68%) encourage vaccination, appropriate masking, and other safety protocols (55%). While the Delta variant is not delaying return-to-workplace for most (74%), there is a 9% uptick in requiring documented proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test within 24 hours prior to entering the workplace. Additionally, more employers are requiring all employees to wear masks (52%) rather than restricting masking rules to only the unvaccinated (14%).¹
“The details of the proposed federal mandate have yet to be revealed; however, an effective vaccination strategy should be formulated around clear policies that comply with legal and regulatory requirements and align with an organization’s culture and business goals,” said William F. Ziebell, CEO of Gallagher’s Benefits & HR Consulting Division. “Communications about vaccination policies and plans are equally important and should be designed to encourage an open dialogue and respect from multiple perspectives.”
The survey also found that many employers are encouraging vaccination through incentives. Almost half (49%) provide time off to receive the vaccine and 10% use financial incentives. Typically, financial incentive amounts are $100–$249 (46%), but ranges of $50–$99 (22%) and $250 or more (29%) are also common.
Unvaccinated employees whose decisions are medically based, as well as those protected by human rights legislation for other reasons, such as religious beliefs, are legally guaranteed the opportunity for formal accommodations. Gallagher’s survey found that 56% of respondents don’t currently offer employee accommodations and 26% have not yet decided on an approach. For those who do, accommodations take the form of remote work (17%); adjustments to roles, responsibilities or both (6%); and unpaid leave (5%).
“As we’ve seen, an organization’s vaccination policy can be a polarizing issue. Some employees may end up leaving due to a vaccination policy, while others may leave over safety concerns,” says Ziebell. “Conversely, some employees may be attracted to an employer who mandates the vaccine as a sign that their personal values are aligned with the organization. Employers need a plan for consistently and respectfully addressing the issue while also balancing employee attraction and retention needs. Communicating their policies and the reasoning behind them will help promote adherence and maintain a safe and productive business environment.”
¹ Gallagher “Workforce Trends Pulse Survey #3,” October 2021
² Gallagher “Quick Poll Survey,” August 2021