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Employees say workplace health and safety remains top of mind as they return

Yes, the vaccine rollout has been underway for a while. However, the majority of employees (87%) say they’re still worried about staying safe while in the workplace. Employers should gear up: this could signal a new normal that makes health and safety key to a great workplace experience. 

Luckily, employers don’t have to do blind guesswork about how their employees feel going back to the workplace. We recently surveyed employees who have returned on-site to learn how they feel being there and what their companies can do to make them feel more comfortable. 

Folks who have returned on-site still want COVID safety measures in place

The top concerns employees have about being back on-site are health and safety-related. 46% of employees worry about exposure to COVID-19 and its variants. 30% of employees said they’re worried about interacting with non-vaccinated employees. An equal number of respondents said the cost of commuting to the workplace is a top concern.  

Health and safety concerns are greater among certain employee demographics. For people of color, the concern around the Delta variant is significant: 21% lose sleep over it compared to just 11% of white employees.

There’s also some variation in concern by the size of the company. People at companies larger than 1,000 employees report the highest amount of concern over exposure and interacting with non-vaccinated co-workers. As for employees at smaller companies, the concern over exposure and interaction is significantly less—only 40% and 20% respectively. 

In the US, just over half (57%) of those eligible for vaccination have been vaccinated. People at larger companies may come into contact with more people on the day-to-day, increasing their concern for their health. 

In the fall of 2021, the US Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced its plans to require employers with more than 100 employees to ensure their people are vaccinated before coming on-site. This would impact organizations of more than 70% of employees surveyed.

Quick tip: Empower employees to collaborate at a safe distance and make the most of your real estate investments. For tips, download our ebook, Space management tips to help your people thrive in a hybrid workplace.

3 out of 5 employees feel their companies are doing enough to protect them

The majority of employees (59%) believe their employers have taken adequate measures to keep them safe. 

When we broke the data down by different employee demographics, we found that younger generations are more skeptical. 62% of Gen Z believe their company could be implementing more safety precautions. This finding isn’t surprising. When we surveyed employees in February 2021, 75% of Gen Z reported being worried about their health and safety in the workplace. This concern could be tied to fear of getting sick at work and infecting at-risk family members.

The concern lessens by age group. 46% of Millennials believe their employers could do more. For Gen X and Boomers, concern drops significantly—39% and 26% respectively.

Quick tip: Help give employees peace of mind by conducting regular health checks before people come on-site. Read this blog post to learn more about how to implement health checks.

75% of employees are comfortable with workplace vaccine requirements

Of those who work for companies that require vaccinations (51% of respondents), 75% report being comfortable with the requirement.

How does this concern break down by generation? Gen Z and Boomers are less likely than average to be comfortable with their organization’s vaccine requirement—73% and 69% respectively. 

For Gen Z, who believe that their employers could be doing more to keep their employees safe, this is somewhat of a surprise. One explanation for this result is that Gen Z respondents may feel their organizations could be taking other precautionary measures to keep their people safe. For example, space planning to enable social distancing or touchless on-site technologies. 

Quick tip: Want a simple, scalable way to verify employee vaccination status? Read our blog post to learn how to roll out safety protocols your people trust using technology your team can trust.

As more people return on-site, organizations should take employees’ concerns about their health and safety seriously. This will be key to getting employees excited to return. What is your team doing to build a safe workplace for your people? 

For more tips and access to the full report download, Employees say the workplace is what makes hybrid work.  

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Tiffany Fowell
Author Bio Tiffany Fowell