Omicron Triggers Return to Workplace Concerns for More Than Half of US Workforce

  • 56 Percent of Workers Say Employers Should Require Vaccine Boosters, New Eagle Hill Consulting Research Finds
  • Employees Increasingly Support Higher Insurance Rates for Unvaccinated Workers

Fifty-two percent of working Americans say they have increased anxiety about working in person due to the rise of the COVID-19 omicron variant, and 55 percent agree employers should reconsider back to workplace plans. New research from Eagle Hill Consulting also indicates more than half of U.S. workers (56 percent) support employer requirements for vaccine boosters, while 78 percent say employers should encourage or require employees to be vaccinated for in-person work.

This workforce sentiment comes as the U.S. Surgeon General warns that the omicron surge has not peaked nationally, and the coming weeks will be difficult as hospitalizations and deaths rise. The U.S. has reported nearly 800,000 cases per day on average during the past week, according to Johns Hopkins University data, which is three times the level of last winter’s record.

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The 2022 Eagle Hill Consulting COVID-19 Vaccines and the Workplace Survey measures employee sentiment about vaccines, returning to the workplace, as well as testing and safety protocols.

“The fast-spreading omicron variant has rattled employees while upending return to workplace plans,” says Melissa Jezior, Eagle Hill Consulting president and chief executive officer. “Beleaguered employers and workers were hopeful that 2022 would mark a return to some sense of normalcy, and this setback is discouraging. The key takeaway from omicron is that the virus is still in control, and employers must be in a perpetual pivot mode should another variant emerge,” Jezior said.

As companies shift their operations to deal with the variant, most employees (68 percent) say omicron will impact their organization, while 63 percent of say this new variant will impact them at work.

When asked about whether unvaccinated employees should pay higher insurance rates, a growing share of workers (47 percent) are supportive, up from 41 percent in August 2020. GenZ workers were least supportive of higher insurance rates (33 percent), while Baby Boomers were significantly more supportive (53percent).

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“Our research indicates workers continue to want employers proactively involved in health and safety protocols,” Jezior explained. “From vaccine and booster mandates to masking and social distancing requirements, most workers continue to look to their employer to stay engaged in COVID-19 precautions.

When asked about employer COVID-19 testing and safety protocols, this national poll finds:

  • 84 percent of workers concur that employers should require or encourage social distancing.
  • 82 percent agree that employers should require or encourage employees to wear masks.
  • Regarding temperature checks, 72 percent say employers should encourage or require temperature checks before entering the workplace.
  • When it comes to COVID-19 testing for employees, 60 percent support employers requiring or encouraging testing before entering the workplace.

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