Employers split on whether vaccine mandates help or hurt recruitment

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Most employers plan to require vaccines but they don’t know if it will help or hurt their recruiting efforts — or even lead to resignations, a new study by advisory firm Willis Towers Watson found.

Even as some states and counties mandate vaccines for certain activities, employers are a bit more skittish to follow suit: Thirty percent fear a vaccine mandate could result in employees leaving their organization, the survey found.

Still, others believe an unwillingness to mandate vaccines could cause problems, with 48 percent saying a vaccine mandate will actually help with recruiting and retention efforts.

Willis Towers Watson found only 3 percent of employers reported a surge in resignations following a vaccine mandate’s implementation.

Of the 543 U.S. employers surveyed in mid November, only 18 percent currently require vaccines to get the jab. But 32 percent plan to require vaccinations if the Biden Administration’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration vaccine mandate goes into effect. The companies polled employ a total of 5.2 million workers.

vaccines split
The vast majority of companies continue to mandate basic covid precautions including masks.
REUTERS

The issue of exemptions from vaccines also splits employers. A little over half of companies will allow employees to have medical and religious exemptions.

The controversy over vaccine mandates comes as the labor market heats up and employers fear losing workers. The companies are being forced to make unilateral decisions that will accommodate employees with divergent views on vaccine mandates. At the same time, the latest coronavirus variant, omicron, is causing a stir — and some employers are already feeling the heat — and the need to require more stringent health and safety precautions.

Dr. Levin-Scherz
Dr. Levin-Scherz is head of Willis Towers Watson’s health practice.
jlevin-scherz

Even as employers are split on vaccine mandates, basic safety precautions remain in place at most companies. Of those surveyed, 87 percent of employers will continue to offer testing and 90 percent will continue to require masking indoors, the study found.

Of course, as uncertainty continues, one way to sidestep a vaccine mandate is by delaying a return to the office. The study found 34 percent of all employees are now working remotely.

But almost a third of respondents, 29 percent. said their companies have returned to a “new normal” and ended “pandemic-related” accommodations like working from home.

“Employers continue to evaluate the best way to keep their workers, families and the community safe. With the risk of COVID-19 infection higher now than a month ago, some companies have delayed bringing employees back to the worksite,” said Dr. Levin-Scherz, leader of Willis Towers Watson’s health practice.

On Wall Street, most banks have already implemented vaccine mandates. Morgan Stanley, Citigroup, and Goldman Sachs all require vaccinations to return to the office.

The Post previously reported that at top Wall Street firms — even before vaccine mandates — the vaccination rate is north of 90 percent. As such, the unvaccinated may be susceptible to being viewed as a small minority standing in the way of getting back to business as usual.

vaccines
A little over half of companies will allow employees medical and religious exemptions from vaccines.
Christopher Sadowski

“They are certainly social outliers and maybe social pariahs,” one bank employee told The Post. “Whether it’s explicit or implicit, there will be a view about that employee — people will question whether they can do their jobs.”

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