COVID-19Workforce Management

Ensuring Workplace Safety

New research finds vaccine mandates are on the rise.

By Zee Johnson

The urgency to return to life as the world once knew it has heightened with many U.S. companies moving to make vaccinations mandatory. According to a Willis Towers Watson survey, companies are not only requiring full or partial vaccination to return to the office, but have even resorted to offering financial incentives for employees to do so.

“The Delta variant has made employers take new actions to keep their workers and workplaces safe and healthy. We expect even more employers to institute vaccine mandates in the wake of FDA approval of the Pfizer vaccine,” said Jeff Levin-Scherz, M.D., population health leader for Willis Towers Watson.

It is expected that by the fourth quarter of this year, 52% of employers could make having at least one dose of the vaccine a requirement. Some businesses are requiring full vaccination to step foot in workplace common areas like break rooms and cafeterias, while 29% plan to make vaccination a requirement for all on-site staff.

For two in 10 (17%) organizations, the offer of a financial “bonus” has been the most alluring way to convince employees to get vaccinated. Payments ranging from $100 to $199 have become common, while other employers (2%) are offering discounts to vaccinated employees and premium surcharges for the unvaccinated.

To ensure workers are following the mandate, companies now plan to track exactly who is getting it. Six in 10 (59%) currently track their employees’ vaccination status, while 19% are planning to do the same later this year. To keep track, organizations are asking employees for their completed Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) vaccination card, and 36% are relying on verbal confirmation from employees. Approaches will ultimately require more work from HR.

As organizations continue brainstorming their return to the office strategies, here are three best practices to consider.

1. Mask mandates. Eight in 10 respondents (80%) are requiring masks to be worn indoors at all times in the workplace.

2. Contact tracing. Three in four employers (75%) are using workplace contact tracing to inform employees of possible exposure.

3. Back to normal. Thirty-nine percent of employers now expect their organizations to return to the workplace and pre-pandemic normalcy (less pandemic-related policies and procedures) during the second quarter of 2022. Twenty-six percent, however, expect to return as early as the first quarter of next year.

Employers are ready to safely move their businesses forward with the return to in person, dynamic working environments. One way to ensure this is through the implementation of vaccine mandates.

Tags: October 2021

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