In January 2021 COVID-19 vaccines—still new at the time—began to gain
traction, and business leaders turned their attention to what the growing
availability might mean for their organizations and workforces.
At the same time, the Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp) began
its series of monthly surveys to track the evolution of leaders’ thinking and
actions on the myriad considerations related to vaccinations for employees. The
latest data from our April 2021 survey, Getting Employees
Vaccinated, provides some insights into the evolution of employers’
Leaders have become more decisive on policies
Our January blog, As COVID-19 Vaccines Roll Out,
Business Leaders Aren’t Rushing to Require Them, noted that many
business leaders were cautiously approaching decisions about vaccinations for
employees. At the time, few were inclined to require their workers be
vaccinated, and 48% of those surveyed said they were still debating policies on
With Q1 2021 behind them, leaders have made more decisions on vaccine
policies, including whether or not to create them at all. A third of those
surveyed in April confirmed that they’d decided not to create a vaccination
Still plenty of encouragement, but few requirements for
i4cp’s January research found only 5% of business leaders planning to
require their workers to be vaccinated, though 68% planned to encourage
employees to do so. By April, 75% of those surveyed said they already did or would
encourage vaccinations, and only 9% required (or planned to require) the
injections for all employees.
Some employers who planned on requiring vaccinations for specific groups
have relaxed their previous attitudes. At the start of the year, 14% of
surveyed leaders said they’d require vaccinations of essential workers, and the
same percentage confirmed vaccination requirements for non-employees
(suppliers, vendors, customers, etc.) entering company workplaces. The April
research found that requirements for those groups had dropped to 6% and 5%,
At the same time, about one in four business leaders confirmed in April
that they continue to adjust work or job requirements as needed (up slightly
over the last month), and 77% say they require all employees who work on site
to wear masks. About one in 10 (8%) require regular COVID-19 testing of
employees who decline vaccination, but want to work onsite.
Views vary on tracking / documenting vaccination status
In April, i4cp polled business leaders about a topic that is eliciting
varied opinions among politicians and others. The survey asked employers if
they were tracking, or planned to implement some means of verifying, the
vaccination status of their employees. For the largest segment of respondents
(34%), the answer was no, though some are collecting that data on a voluntary
or self-reported basis.
Companies continue to use incentives
As rates of vaccinations, particularly in the U.S., are slowing, many
business leaders remain interested in using incentives to encourage their
workforces to be vaccinated.
Among the half-dozen types of incentives organizations use to encourage
vaccinations, only one has significantly decreased over the course of the year’s
first quarter: linking vaccinations to employee well-being programs with the
aim of enabling workers who choose to be vaccinated to earn credits, points, or
other awards linked to their employers’ wellness programs. At 29% in January,
that incentive has seen implementation nearly halve to 15% in April.
At the other end of the spectrum, awarding of paid time off for vaccinations—and in some companies, for recovery time, too—has more than tripled, from 17% in January to 54% in April. Partnerships with vaccination providers, such as healthcare and pharmacy professionals, has more than doubled over Q1, and onsite vaccinations at company health centers has doubled as well.
Notably, as the graph illustrates, offering cash, gift cards, or other remunerative
incentives remains the least-chosen option for organizations.
For a deeper dive into the latest vaccination data, see i4cp’s Getting Employees