The pandemic continues to evolve, and with that, so do how employers are managing how to best keep their employees safe from COVID-19 while also navigating new federal vaccine mandates. Most employees (58%) support President Biden's vaccine requirements, yet most workers (60%) also say vaccine mandates or discussion of them have caused contention within their workplace.
So, how are mandates impacting company culture and workplace safety, particularly during a time when retention is a top priority for leaders while record numbers of people are quitting their jobs during The Great Resignation? And, are federal mandates likely to sway unvaccinated workers to get fully vaccinated? New Qualtrics research demonstrates the divide being created by COVID-19 requirements within companies to help inform employers on how to navigate vaccine mandates while also prioritizing the unique qualities of their workforce.
Vaccines are impacting trust and productivity at work
When asked about how conversations around vaccines are impacting company culture and productivity, employees say there's a growing sense of distrust among coworkers and managers. OSHA, or the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, recently issued a standard to require all federal contractors to mandate their workers get fully vaccinated by January 4, 2022 or provide negative COVID-19 tests on a weekly basis. Once these mandates are enforced within companies, research shows that even greater division could be created as 55% of employees say they would consider reporting a coworker to OSHA for violating a vaccine mandate.
Workers are willing to make career changes to avoid mandates
Employees are currently in the driver's seat when it comes to deciding where to work as the job market heats up, and vaccine mandates add a new layer of complexity for employers as they aim to retain and hire talent. Among unvaccinated workers, 75% would consider quitting their jobs if vaccine mandates are put in place and only 12% say the risk of being fired if they don't comply with vaccine rules would convince them to get the vaccine. If unvaccinated workers are actually let go for non-compliance, 13% say they will retire or take a break from work, contributing even further to the ongoing labor shortage.
Unvaccinated employees in the workplace are unlikely to be swayed by federal mandates
Qualtrics research shows 52% of unvaccinated employees say mandates would make them less likely to get vaccinated. This presents a unique challenge for employers aiming to retain their employees while requiring vaccines. As they consider how to roll out the federal mandates at their companies, it'll be important for leaders to understand how their own workforce feels about the mandates to help inform how the new requirements are communicated across the organization.
Tech workers are most supportive of vaccine mandates
Across industries, employee support of the proposed federal vaccination mandates varies, with 74% of tech and IT workers supporting the mandate compared to 51% of government workers. Among some of the industries hit hardest by the pandemic, employees are fairly split between supporting the mandate: 56% of health care workers, 54% of retail employees and 54% of those employed in the travel, hospitality and food industries. Surprisingly, the stats reveal that tech and IT workers are more sensitive to an employee's vaccination status than even health care workers.
Employers: Listen to your employees and proceed thoughtfully
When all is said and done, people want to feel heard and taken care of by their employer, especially following the effects of the pandemic. Whether it's through regular employee pulses to gather feedback or using company-wide meetings as a forum for answering questions about how the company is thinking about the federal mandates, transparent communication between leaders and employees is critical for implementing plans that take into account what needs to be done, like complying with federal mandates, and the type of culture people want to be part of.
To help employers manage the mechanics of vaccine mandates, Qualtrics' Vaccination & Testing Manager can securely and easily capture information about employees' vaccination status as well as conduct daily symptom checks.