COVID-19 has kept most employees out of the office for a year. Vaccines, however, will make it safe to bring them back, and in the process help restore our economy. But the big question is, what about the employees who will decide not to get vaccinated for personal reasons? How should employers walk that slippery slope?
First, let's look at some stark numbers indicating that employees opting against vaccination will indeed be an issue. According to research by the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM), 40% of workers will probably not or definitely not get the vaccine. Twenty-eight percent say they would not get vaccinated if their employer required it - even if that decision meant risking termination.
Just from those numbers alone, think of the chaos and extended disruption that could potentially throw companies and their leaders into. A mass exodus of people quitting or getting fired, and managers scrambling to find competent replacements. Businesses dealing with office unrest as non-vaccinated workers return, and production seriously waning due to a destabilized workforce.
Many employers are balancing respect for people's right to decide with the dual importance of office safety and a return to normal business functions. It's a delicate balance. Sixty percent of businesses in the SHRM survey said they will not require the vaccination. But some businesses are encouraging employees to get the vaccine and are even offering incentives; large companies such as McDonald's and Target are paying employees to get the vaccine. But according to one survey, only 22% of small business owners will make COVID vaccination a requirement.
Fear and uncertainty are big factors driving some employees away from vaccines. In the SHRM survey, employees' reasons to not get vaccinated include possible side effects (69%); waiting to see if it's safe and possibly getting the shot or shots later (58%); not trusting COVID-19 vaccines (41%); not knowing if it will work (32%); concerned with having an allergic reaction (27%); and several others.