New Research Shows the Unvaccinated and the Vaccinated Are on a Collision Course at Work and School
Vaccinated employees have tremendous anxiety about being around the unvaccinated; Parents overwhelmingly want schools to require vaccinations
TEMECULA, Calif., July 22, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Recent research from Perceptyx, the leading employee listening and people analytics platform, found that vaccinated and unvaccinated workers are on a collision course when they return to the physical workplace and schools. The “vax gap” between these two groups reveals a chasm when workers are asked how safe they believe the workplace is: 44 percent of unvaccinated employees feel very little or no stress/anxiety when near other unvaccinated co-workers. But only 19 percent of vaccinated workers feel very little or no stress/anxiety under the same conditions. About 41 percent of vaccinated workers say they have “quite a bit” or “a great deal” of stress working around unvaccinated workers.
Perceptyx surveyed more than 1,000 employees in June 2021 to measure how much anxiety they are feeling about working in a mixed vaccinated-unvaccinated environment. Employers are currently picking their way through dangerous waters as they develop workplace policies designed to make all employees -- both vaccinated and unvaccinated -- feel comfortable working around each other. But it may prove very difficult given how differently the two groups see workplace safety.
“We’re seeing tremendous gaps on the safety issue based on whether you are vaccinated or not,” said Dr. Brett Wells, Director of People Analytics. “Those who are currently unvaccinated, and plan on remaining unvaccinated for at least the next two months, have higher tolerance levels for being around others who made the same choice. But employers will have to give serious consideration to the high stress levels that a majority of workers are feeling about their unvaccinated colleagues. If their concerns aren’t addressed, employers could see quit rates rise even higher as the vaccinated look for remote-friendly jobs and/or offices they feel are safer.”
The Delta variant of the virus is spreading quickly around the world and still poses a threat in the United States. While the threat persists, understanding the interaction between these two groups is going to be key to workplace productivity and harmony.
For example, social pressures at work could affect employee behaviors. About 45 percent of all employees surveyed who work in a physical workspace said they feel peer pressure to remove their mask at work. But this pressure is felt more strongly by the vaccinated (47 percent) than the unvaccinated (39 percent).
Surprisingly, even a workplace that was described as having “herd protection” levels (70 percent vaccinated employees) did not put vaccinated employees much at ease. Only 53 percent of vaccinated employees felt comfortable returning to the office, compared to 77 percent among the unvaccinated. Nearly a quarter of unvaccinated employees said they would be comfortable with a workplace that was less than 10 percent vaccinated.
Employers worried about retention during a high-quit-rate period should worry more if they have a high number of unvaccinated people coming back to a workplace that requires vaccinations. A third of that group says they would consider leaving their employers if vaccines were required.
Most parents want to see schools require vaccines
The “vax gap” among parents mirrors some of the safety concerns in the workplace.
Nearly three-quarters (74%) of all parents say they would like to see schools require all teachers and staff to be vaccinated by the start of this school year. That number jumps even higher (79%) when asked whether students should also be required to be vaccinated (if the vaccine is made available to all children by the start of the school year).
But when parents are informed that schools already require vaccines for diseases like measles, mumps and rubella, the number who want to see all children vaccinated spikes to 86%.
Perceptyx recommends that employers keep close tabs on employees’ vaccination anxiety as they return to the physical workplace by implementing a continuous listening strategy. Identifying the employees or job roles that have the most anxiety about the return to the office can help employers design remote or hybrid work alternatives that keep overall anxiety lower and productivity high. For more guidance on how to keep employees engaged in the post-pandemic era, leaders can review tips from Perceptyx organizational behavior experts here.