The surge of the COVID-19 Delta variant in H2 2021 has again delayed many companies’ return-to-office plans. A rapidly-shifting regulatory environment – including new action by President Biden that will require all employees at firms of 100-plus employees (totaling 80 million workers) to either be vaccinated or get tested weekly – has brought the question of workplace vaccination mandates to the forefront.
Yet, according to Forrester, employee sentiments are far from unanimous.
A new Forrester report offers guidance on the shifting decision context for vaccination mandates and the risks associated with imposing a mandate – and the more unpredictable risks associated with not imposing one. Key takeaways of this research include:
- A thin majority favors vaccination mandates. While some 59% of Americans now favor a vaccination mandate “in their own workplace,” there are still significant swaths of opposition: Gallup found that 44% opposed a mandate.
- Companies have been moving toward tracking and mandating vaccination. Polled before President Biden’s announcement, 78% of companies planned to track employee vaccination status, up from 55% who already did so by late August. Forthcoming Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) guidance should accelerate these numbers.
- To comply with OSHA’s likely rules, organizations will need to decide whether to mandate vaccination or test employees weekly. While this is a contentious issue for most US organizations, they must make a decision as no decision will default to “weekly testing for the unvaccinated,” according to Forrester. Decisions should factor in long-term employee health, as well as the short- and long-term customer and business benefits.
- Vaccination mandates for employees are a legitimate tool for US companies to employ – albeit one with risks. Companies that are either planning vaccination mandates for employees or approaching them are taking several factors into consideration: workplace safety, regulatory requirements, employee concerns, and accepting that mandates are not a “panacea.”
Additional insights about this topic can be found in the following Forrester blog.
To learn more about Forrester’s “Return to Work” research, visit here.
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