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What strategies are employers using to navigate the COVID-19 vaccine?


As we mark the one-year anniversary of the pandemic, employers are looking back at how much our lives have changed. Now employers are focusing on new challenges, particularly when it comes to the COVID-19 vaccine roll-out. While some organizations were able to move much of their operations to a work-from-home model, not all had that luxury. There was truly no one-size-fits-all solution to help companies develop a support model for their people to navigate the challenges of the pandemic and the same holds true as we address vaccinations and the workplace.

How have employers responded to the COVID-19 pandemic?

In addition to ensuring employees have the necessary equipment, access to information and cyber security to work from home, employers have been faced with a number of issues, including:

  • Covering COVID testing or treatment
  • Helping employees juggle work and family responsibilities
  • Supporting employees when a colleague or family member dies of COVID
  • Maintaining social connection among a remote workforce
  • Mitigating feelings of isolation or anxiety among remote workers
  • Extending paid time off for employees serving as caregivers to someone afflicted by COVID

Throughout the pandemic, most organizations have struggled to say when the workplace will return to business-as-usual. Many have tentatively set “return to work” dates, only to be forced to extend their work-from-home mandates due to the prevalence of the virus and lack of a viable vaccine.

Will employers require the COVID-19 vaccine for employees?

Now that several COVID-19 vaccines have been approved by the FDA, employers are facing a slew of questions regarding vaccine policies. According to the Alight COVID-19 December Pulse Survey, almost half of employers (48%) say they have not yet determined any vaccine requirements, although 10% expect to have no formal policy. Of the remaining employers:

  • Nearly nine-out-of-ten (88%) say they will encourage employees to receive the vaccine but will not require it.
  • Just 4% plan to mandate the vaccine for all employees who do not qualify for an exemption due to religion or disability.  

What do employees want employers to do regarding the COVID-19 vaccine?

While employers are largely undecided about what role they should play in COVID vaccinations, Alight’s 2021 Employee Wellbeing Mindset Study found more than half of employees (56%) feel employers should require all or some of their employees to get vaccinated. Slightly over one-fourth (28%) believe employers should not require employees to get vaccinated but should actively encourage them to do so. Nearly three-quarters (71%) say they would get the vaccination if their employer required it. When it comes to encouraging vaccination, employees want their employers to:

  • Cover any costs of getting vaccinated (69%)
  • Communicate about what it is, how to get it and why it’s important (59%)
  • Provide incentives to get vaccinated (52%)

What does COVID-19 vaccine support look like for your organization?

As employees struggle to understand what’s going on with COVID vaccinations – Is the vaccine safe? Where is it available? Who’s eligible? Should I get it? – they will be turning to their employers for guidance.

Alight’s portfolio of COVID-19 vaccine support solutions provides your people with the information they need to understand and access the vaccine:

  • Vaccine Engagement and Communication: A single-source digital experience for COVID-19 vaccine information, including a vaccine microsite, along with high-impact email and internal communication content.
  • HR COVID Policy Line: Our specialized, inbound call center support staff are ready to educate and answer employee questions around your organization’s COVID-19 policies, procedures, programs and resources.
  • Health Pro Vaccine Support: High-touch support for employees and their families, including vaccine eligibility and availability; how and where to make an appointment; clinical support and employer policies and coverage.
  • Employee Care Card: A one-time, pre-funded financial incentive for employees who get the COVID-19 vaccine, mailed directly to employees and activated at first use.

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