More companies institute vaccine mandates as employees increasingly demand it
Vaccinations against COVID-19 may be a hot-button issue in society and among certain members of the workforce, but it is increasingly noncontroversial for many companies. As the delta variant rages, Interpublic Group, Delta Air Lines, Deloitte, Citigroup and Google are just a handful of the companies to hand down mandates that employees be vaccinated before returning to the office.
Despite a vocal anti-vax contingent, employers would seem to have public opinion on their side. A recent Gallup poll indicated that 65% of the public has strong opinions about mandates, with a majority favoring them. Since May, the number of people who say their employers are requiring vaccines has jumped from 5% to 9%, which Gallup called “statistically meaningful.”
The decision to institute mandates has put many agencies, tech companies and other employers between a rock and a hard place, however, as they’ve had to weigh the positions of those employees who are anti-vax against those of the majority who want, even demand that their co-workers be protected, and that the workplace is a safer space for everyone.
Sharon Harris, CMO of global digital marketing firm Jellyfish, whose clients include Google, Amazon and eBay, believes more employers instituting mandates was inevitable.
“While we as a society have to consider all, for our offices to function we also have to value the health of many over the concerns of a few,” she said. Noting that vaccines are a long-established mainstay of society — with everybody from schoolchildren to soldiers to our pet pooches required to be inoculated against disease — Harris said, “If we genuinely want to get back to work and resume aspects of life before COVID, we must take an altruistic viewpoint.”
Given the uncertainties around the virus and the disparate policies among companies, schools and other places people gather, however, Harris advised leaders to be “agile, transparent and empathetic.” She called the return to the office “an opportunity to reclaim work culture and emphasize purpose, inclusivity, belonging and true collaboration.”
The Milwaukee-based agency Hanson Dodge, which works with brands like K-Swiss and Mrs. Meyer’s, not only requires all employees, contractors and visitors to be fully vaccinated in its office — everyone is required to present proof.