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Back to the workplace: key pandemic insights from employers

On April 29, Arizona State University hosted a webinar about returning to the workplace. The subject was the results of a survey by ASU on the issues employers face as they bring employees back to their workplaces. Envoy founder and CEO, Larry Gadea, was on a panel with John Dony, the Senior Director of Thought Leadership at the National Safety Council, and Trent Burner, VP of research for the Society for Human Resource Management. 

The conversation focused on four major topics: COVID testing, vaccinations, employee well-being, and the future of work. Besides ASU’s survey, panelist shared their own findings including Envoy’s recent survey,  conducted with Wakefield Research.

The value of testing

According to ASU’s report, 68% of companies are testing some or all workers for COVID. Testing is mandatory at two-thirds of those companies. And an equal percentage of companies are testing employees on a weekly basis. National Safety Council’s John Dony offered that testing allows workers to not only be safe but to feel safe. “ You must be your whole self at work. you must be able to show up, speak your mind. Not just feel physically safe but feel mentally safe and respected as well.”

Incentivizing vaccines

Trent Burner noted that age and income are important factors with regards to vaccination. “Older working Americans are much more interested than millennials and Gen Z’s.” 48% of the US workers with household incomes of $100k more have received the vaccine. 35% of households with incomes from $30k to $60k have received the vaccine, and 30% of households earning less than $30k are vaccinated. 

Burner shifted to how to incentivize vaccination, according to SHRM’s research. “What does not work… is showing political figures getting vaccinated, showing sports figures, or prominent figures on TV.” Tangible, direct benefits do more to encourage vaccinations. Savings bonds, travel vouchers, Krispy Kreme donuts, and lottery tickets are some of premiums being handed out in exchange for getting a shot. Some companies are offering gift cards or other items to encourage employees to get vaccinated. Should you consider incentivizing vaccination? Burner says there is not a single correct answer. “Employees want to know that you as an organization want to invest in them if they invest in this vaccine. That’s what we found across all the industries and across all the different sectors.”

The future of work

Larry Gadea shared how companies are adopting a hybrid work model. This offers flexibility for employees to work from the office or from home. An effective hybrid work plan allows leaders and teams to know when people are in the office, and the ability to schedule groups of people together. “This is really where we see the future and where we’re seeing demand. It’s a very interesting new trend and I’m curious to see how it builds out.”

Larry detailed how Envoy is approaching the tactical challenges of enabling a hybrid work plan without sacrificing productivity. “Companies need ways of managing capacity. They need ways of ensuring desk reservations. They need ways of knowing that there’s availability in the meeting rooms for that day. And they need to make sure everyones’ schedules correspond.” 

Closing out an informative discussion, ASU moderator Mara Aspinall offered three recommendations for workplace leaders:

  • Talk amongst yourselves and with your employees every day. 
  • Ensure that you have the right technology to support your staff.  
  • Do it together– no single person will have all the answers.

For more, read Envoy’s latest ebook, How to build a people-centric workplace experience. You’ll find insights on how to create an experience that’s flexible and centered around the people who matter most: your employees.