February Employer Insights: Most Encourage Employee Vaccinations, Some Offer Incentives (i4cp login required)

Just-in results from the latest i4cp survey confirm that employers continue to prefer
encouraging, and not requiring, employees to receive COVID-19 vaccinations.

Most of the just over 400 respondents (62%) surveyed last
say they encourage employees to be vaccinated or plan to; only 4% require
or plan to require the injections. In both cases, 30% of leaders say they’re
still considering their options.

In January, i4cp’s first survey on this topic—The
COVID-19 Vaccine & The 2021 Workplace
business leaders’ opinions about vaccinations for their workforces. With our post-outbreak
world shifting so rapidly, and vaccination debates challenging individuals,
businesses, and governments, alike, we’re updating our research frequently to provide
insights on the evolving situation.

As the year began, few leaders (5%) had an appetite for
mandating that their employees be vaccinated (though four in 10 said they were
thinking about it). At the same time, two-thirds of those surveyed in January planned
to encourage vaccinations when widely available to the public, and
another 19% were considering it. Overall, it was clear that many were in no
rush to make decisions, instead choosing a wait-and-see approach. The same
holds true a month later.

When it comes to formal policies on vaccination, the January
survey found 48% of business leaders discussing policies, but undecided. In
February, that figure has declined to 38% reporting that they are still in
discussions, while an additional 18% say they’ve decided not to set a
policy on vaccinations. 

Formal policies are in place in three in 10 organizations
represented in the February survey. Those are almost evenly split between a
single policy applicable to all employees globally (16%) and distinct policies
for countries/regions of operation (14%).

In organizations that have policies in place, 26% address
vaccination accommodation requests, and 16% already or will include provisions
related to adjusting job or work requirements such as locations or work teams.
Minimal numbers of respondents (fewer than 8%) reported policies that
referenced proof of vaccination for employees returning to workplaces, regular
testing requirements of unvaccinated workers, or workplace adaptations to
separate workspaces of vaccinated and non-vaccinated employees. 

Organizations Are Experimenting with Incentives

With encouragement of employee vaccinations continuing to be
the chosen path of most organizations at present, employers are curious to know
how their peers are accomplishing that strategy.

In both surveys, i4cp asked about six types of incentives
organizations might use to promote vaccinations. Consistently ranking
top-of-list (and increasing from 39% to 50% of respondents implementing or
about to) is a relatively easy-to-accomplish effort—providing education or
educational material on the merits/efficacy of vaccination. 

Beyond that leading action, the new data reflects shifts in
choices about incentives, with paid time off for workers to be vaccinated (31%
of respondents already implementing or planning to) and onsite vaccination
solutions rising in rank while linking vaccinations to companies’ existing
well-being programs declined significantly as a favored strategy. 

Vaccine Encouragement strategy

Communications Efforts Are Becoming More Organized and

Effective internal communications are critical to the
success of any business objective, and actively encouraging employees to be
vaccinated against COVID-19 is no exception.  

Not surprisingly, the January survey—which fielded
concurrently with the advent of vaccine approvals by the FDA—found companies
most likely to report that they were leveraging the fastest option at their
disposal: one in four respondents were adapting existing employee
communications assets about flu vaccines to provide messaging about COVID
vaccines instead.  

After nearly a month during which vaccines gradually became
more widely available (albeit with ongoing supply issues) and businesses had
time to begin more expansive approaches, the top choice of communication
strategies to encourage vaccination shifted: 38% of survey participants say
their current (or planned) top effort is creating an internal pro-vaccination
communications campaign that centers on employee health and well-being. 

Adapting existing communications materials remains an
ongoing effort, but the broader focus is reflected by 35% of respondents who
say they are, or will be, putting together FAQ guides for managers’ use in
responding constructively to workers’ vaccination concerns. 

Top 5 communication strategies organizations are using to
encourage employee vaccinations

implement vaccine policies

Source: Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp) 

While i4cp’s second vaccination survey reveals some subtle
changes in only a month’s time, we anticipate more shifts in employers’
strategies as greater numbers of people receive the vaccines and the social and
business landscapes continue to evolve.  

As we have since the outbreak of the pandemic in 2020, i4cp
will continue to monitor and explore emerging trends and their implications for
business leadership and organizational performance. 

Carol Morrison
is a Senior Research Analyst at i4cp