SHRM Surveys Reveal Employers’ Anxiety Over Vaccine Mandate

October 18, 2021
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Alexandria, Va. — New research by SHRM (the Society for Human Resource Management) found most employers, 90 percent, believe it will be somewhat or very challenging to implement the Biden administration's mandate that organizations with 100 or more employees require workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or undergo weekly testing.

SHRM conducted surveys of HR professionals and American workers in late September, finding 80 percent of organizations that meet the mandate criteria are concerned about the amount of time they will have to spend enforcing or tracking employees' vaccination status or test status. 

Two in five, or 38 percent, of those organizations cited retaining talent as the most challenging impact of the mandate and 89 percent believe some of their employees will quit their jobs due to the new requirements.  

In terms of costs, 65 percent of respondents said their organization cannot afford to pay for regular testing for unvaccinated employees. 

"Clearly, as we await the federal government's Emergency Temporary Standard detailing how this mandate is supposed to work, employers and employees are uneasy about the potential for disruptions in the workplace," said SHRM President and CEO Johnny C. Taylor, Jr. "The HR community has a lot on its plate right now, and we are doing we all can to see that organizations are prepared for what's to come. We will continue engaging with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to see that employers are able to successfully implement these new regulations and mitigate the challenges they may bring."

Other key findings from the SHRM surveys include:

  • Four out five organizations (82 percent) that meet the mandate criteria said the requirements will make maintaining the morale and engagement of their workforce more difficult. 
  • Seventy-two percent of those organizations said the requirements will make maintaining regular business operations more difficult.  
  • Nearly half (49 percent) of all organizations said they are operating fully in-person, while eight percent said they are operating on a fully remote schedule and 44 percent said they are operating via a hybrid of remote and in-person work.
  • Of organizations that did not mandate the vaccine before the announcement and that do not meet the new criteria for the vaccine requirements, 86 percent said they are unlikely to require their employees get the vaccine.
  • Sixty percent of U.S. workers are supportive of the requirements, while 40 percent are unsupportive. 
  • Nearly 60 percent of US workers who are not fully vaccinated yet (59 percent) said they still are unlikely to get vaccinated (definitely/probably won't get vaccinated) even after the mandate.

Methodology

The HR survey was fielded electronically to a random sample of active SHRM members September 27-30. In total, 1,289 members responded to the survey. Academics, students, consultants and retired HR professionals were excluded from the survey. Respondents represented organizations of all sizes—from two to more than 25,000 employees—in a wide variety of industries across the United States. HR data is unweighted. 

A sample of 1,500 U.S. workers was surveyed using Lucid. This survey was administered September 28-29. 

About SHRM

SHRM, the Society for Human Resource Management, creates better workplaces where employers and employees thrive together. As the voice of all things work, workers and the workplace, SHRM is the foremost expert, convener and thought leader on issues impacting today's evolving workplaces. With 300,000+ HR and business executive members in 165 countries, SHRM impacts the lives of more than 115 million workers and families globally. Learn more at SHRM.org and on Twitter @SHRM.



 


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