60%: Percentage of employers that said they would encourage employees to take the COVID-19 vaccine, but not require them to do so
As COVID-19 vaccines are rolling out around the country this week to healthcare workers and other high-risk populations, employers are strategizing for the role they will play in the vaccine’s eventual distribution.
For a majority of employers (60%) recently surveyed by Gartner, that role involves encouraging, but not requiring, employees to get vaccinated. Of those, 60% plan to provide resources for employees looking to get vaccinated, while 44% will also subsidize vaccination costs.
Once the vaccine is widely available, 90% of employers surveyed by Gartner said they will still allow employees to work remotely, at least part of the time. When employees are in an office setting, 62% of respondents plan to continue safety measures, even after a vaccine is available; about one-third said they will discontinue mask mandates and social distancing requirements.
What it means to HR leaders
Elisabeth Joyce, vice president of advisory in the Gartner HR practice, says the findings underscore that employers, led by HR, have a responsibility to serve as public health educators. Nearly three-quarters of employees expect their employers to take public stances on hot-button social issues, Joyce notes, and the COVID-19 vaccine should be no exception.
“For many employers, this new vaccine development is certainly a front and center social issue—not only does it include the health of their employees, but the health of their families and the communities they are in,” Joyce says.
The highly politicized nature of the vaccine has led to plenty of legal questions, mainly whether employers can require that workers receive the vaccine; a recent study found that more than half of employees surveyed wanted their organizations to institute a vaccine mandate. In the coming months, HR should work “in lockstep with their legal and compliance partners to align on the organization’s vaccine strategy,” Joyce says, while also ensuring employees have the information and resources they need.
“The role of public health educator will translate into localized vaccination education campaigns that will drive an understanding of the vaccination and how to access it,” Joyce says, “focusing on education to reassure employees on the efficacy of the vaccination.”