Employees Believe Employers Are Responsible For Their Health And Safety If Expected To Return To The Office

Harris Poll Reveals Popular Consensus that 61% of Office Employees Would Likely Look for Another Job if Their Employer Did Not Implement Sufficient Infection Prevention Protocols

COVID-19 has brought about heightened awareness and anxiety around the increased probability of getting sick in the office – despite the rollout of the vaccine. A new Harris Poll of office workers commissioned by biosafety company R-Zero sheds light on the mindset of the American employee and what they believe their employers should do to alleviate concerns in the realm of trust and safety as people head back to the office.

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For over a year now, Americans have had to follow unprecedented safety protocols in order to protect themselves from COVID-19’s severe consequences, which is why there is now an acute awareness around how infectious diseases in the general spread. Based on this survey, 78% of Americans believe offices, in particular, are a breeding ground for infectious viruses and that going back to the office will put their health at risk regardless of whether someone has been vaccinated. In fact, 83% of Americans think that even though people are getting vaccinated for COVID-19, employers should still make every effort to offer better cleaning protocols to help keep employees protected from all kinds of infectious illnesses.

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This is why 66% of Americans polled say the primary reason they want to continue working from home is to avoid getting sick, and 65% say their biggest fear about going back to the office is they are likely to get sick more often. The vast majority (91%) say that if they need to return to the office, their employer should be responsible for implementing ongoing infection prevention protocols to reduce virus transmissions amongst employees.

These types of numbers indicate that employees are prioritizing their health more than ever before and have strong expectations of their employers to protect their well-being as the country moves on from the pandemic into a new realm of normalcy. More specifically, 79% say the COVID-19 pandemic has led them to value their health overwork more than they did before, and 88% feel they also have a responsibility to their co-workers to not get others sick.

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“Businesses are at a crossroads as they determine how to create the safest work environment for employees who have adapted to working remotely from home for the last year, but the good news is the majority of businesses are working towards redefining workspaces in a way that reduces transmission of all infectious diseases,” said Dr. Richard L. Wade, R-Zero’s Chief Scientist and former Deputy Chief at Cal/OSHA who has spent the last 43 years in microbiological contamination and advising on risk reduction procedures and best practices for organizations. “Amongst other considerations, like whether to create a hybrid model of work from home/office or to have sanitizing stations around the office, many organizations are also looking at the physical infrastructure of the workplace and investing in new permanent ventilation systems and adding sustainable UV-C disinfection, as a way to keep employees safer once they re-enter the office environment. Businesses have an opportunity to not only reduce sick days of their employees but build trust and retain talent with the way they respond to providing safer environments.”

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As organizations are taking steps to create safer working environments, a few protocols employers felt their employers should be responsible for when it comes to making sure staff is safe from COVID-19 and other infectious illnesses include:

  • Disinfection methods that are both effective and eco-friendly (86%)
  • Implementing ongoing enhanced cleaning & disinfection protocols (50%)
  • Air cleaning, purification, or filter systems throughout the workplace (47% )
  • Providing hand sanitizer (65%)
  • Establishing a safety protocol for when someone is identified as COVID-19 positive (60%)

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