Despite widespread availability of free vaccines and encouragement efforts on the part of governments and employers alike, many workers—in the U.S. and other countries—remain unvaccinated against COVID-19.
Getting Employees Vaccinated (July 2021), the latest in the Institute for Corporate Productivity’s (i4cp) research series tracking vaccination-related concerns during 2021, offers mid-year insights from nearly 500 survey respondents, most of whom represent global and multinational organizations. Just over half (52%) of those survey participants reported that at least a portion of their total workforces were fully vaccinated. However, only 16% said that more than three-quarters of their total employee populations have reached full vaccination status.
Broader figures on vaccination rates are better, although there is abundant room for improvement. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that about 49% of the total U.S. population was fully vaccinated as of July 18, 2021. On the same date, Bloomberg reported that 43% of people in the EU and 54% of those in the UK were fully vaccinated. Globally, more than 3 billion vaccine doses had been administered.
How to get more people vaccinated in order to stem the ongoing health threats posed by COVID-19 and its variants, including the Delta and burgeoning Lambda strains? That challenge is uppermost in the minds of leaders everywhere, and a silver-bullet solution remains unlikely. At present, governments and other entities are trying to expand access to vaccinations while increasing efforts to combat misinformation and hesitancy about the vaccines.
Businesses are escalating their use of incentives…
For their parts, about three-quarters (73%) of business leaders who responded to the i4cp July survey confirm that their organizations continue to encourage, rather than require employees to receive COVID-19 vaccinations. That percentage held steady when compared with April 2021 data (75%).
However, to fuel encouragement strategies, some companies are expanding their offers of vaccination incentives for employees. Paid time off for workers to get vaccinated and educational materials on vaccines continue to be among the most-proffered incentives, and usage rates for both ticked up a few percentage points since i4cp’s April survey.
Having added several new response options to the incentives question in the most recent iteration of the survey, i4cp found 60% of organizations reporting that they also provide or plan to provide paid time off to employees who need post-vaccination recovery time.
…And reaching beyond enterprise walls
Another new addition to the July survey looked beyond internal incentives, asking respondents about their organizations’ efforts to encourage vaccinations for people within the communities in which they operate.
The data make it clear that few organizations have taken the step of offering incentives to encourage the public to be vaccinated. Of those reporting such activities, opening space in corporate buildings to enable vaccination clinics onsite topped the list.
Despite occasional features in the news media about organizations that offer free merchandise or discounts to individuals who receive vaccinations (a June 1 CNN report noted that Krispy Kreme has given away more than 1.5 million free doughnuts to vaccinated individuals, while Budweiser has offered free beer, and Nathan’s Hot Dogs has shared its wares), the survey found very few respondents reporting that their organizations are taking this approach.
In January 2021, 27% of respondents to i4cp’s first vaccine-related survey said that they planned to promote vaccinations (when available) in the communities in which they operated, and another 36% said that they were discussing doing so. Will organizations continue the low-level community promotion reported at present or step up their efforts to meet their earlier predictions as the Delta variant (and possibly others) spike new rates of infection across the U.S. and beyond?
When it comes to food for thought on the topic, Jay Jamrog, i4cp co-founder and futurist, shared projections a year ago that resonate today. In Looking Ahead: The Pandemic and the Future of Work Part II, he suggested that the focus organizations were already placing on employee well-being would begin to morph into “greater interest in the well-being of our cities, especially in underserved communities where we have to focus our efforts if we’re going to make communities safer, healthier places where people can feel secure. Businesses can be a big part of helping to make positive change happen, and I think organizational leaders understand that.”
As i4cp continues its Getting Employees Vaccinated research series, the data will soon tell whether companies’ vaccination outreach efforts mark the stirrings of that “greater interest in well-being.”…..
i4cp’s research on employee vaccinations and COVID-19 related concerns is available to the public through our online Coronavirus Employer Resource Center
Carol Morrison is an i4cp senior research analyst