A doctor puts a band aid on a woman's arm after administering the COVID-19 vaccine injection.
Employers can contribute to combatting the COVID-19 pandemic and help return business and the economy to normal. — Getty Images/FatCamera

As employers plan for a safe post-pandemic return to the workplace, one important piece of the puzzle is employee vaccinations; however, some of your workforce may be hesitant about receiving one.

A December 2020 report by McKinsey & Company found that 63% of Americans are cautious about or unlikely to adopt COVID-19 vaccination — and yet, experts estimate that about 70% of the population must be vaccinated to reach herd immunity status.

In a recent panel hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, Dr. Susan Garfield, chief public health officer for EY, noted that vaccination is “one of our strongest social contracts in the context of healthcare.”

“We need folks to start thinking outside their own cells and look at the impact that their own behavior can have on others,” said Garfield. “Getting vaccinated, especially as a relatively healthy person, is not only protecting [you], [your] family and [your] community, but it’s particularly protecting those most vulnerable around us, those with underlying health conditions or [who are] immunocompromised.”

Employers, therefore, have an important role to play in encouraging and educating their employees about COVID-19 vaccinations.

“Employers and corporate citizens are doing a great job of reminding people that it's not just an individual action and positivity,” Garfield added. “It's really a collective embrace of the public good.”

Here are some ways to incentivize your workers to get vaccinated.

[Read: 5 Things Employers Can Do Now to Prepare for a Vaccine]

Getting vaccinated, especially as a relatively healthy person, is not only protecting [you], [your] family and [your] community, but it’s particularly protecting those most vulnerable around us, those with underlying health conditions or [who are] immunocompromised.

Dr. Susan Garfield, chief public health officer, EY

Incentives for employees to get the COVID-19 vaccines

Cash incentives

Certain companies have offered a one-time cash payment to any employee who receives the full manufacturer-recommended doses of a COVID-19 vaccine. These companies include Instacart, Kroger and Houston Methodist. The incentives tend to range from $50 to $500, with most being in the $100 range. Offering a cash payment as a vaccine incentive is beneficial to your employees’ health and wallets.

Paid time off

President Biden has called upon employers to offer full pay for employees for the time off needed to get vaccinated and any recovery time after. For small businesses with fewer than 500 employees, he announced a tax credit that provides full pay for any of their employees who get a vaccination. This credit applies to nearly half of all private sector employees in the United States. Giving paid time off for vaccination and recovery shows employees that you prioritize their health and are taking COVID-19 seriously.

Accommodations for vaccination appointments

Not every employee has the transportation to get to and from their local vaccination site. Employers should be aware of this disadvantage and offer solutions to their employees. Businesses can offer to subsidize transportation via ride-sharing or a car service so their employees have a way of getting there.

[Read: How Your Business Can Cater to Newly Vaccinated Customers]

How companies are incentivizing their employees to get vaccinated

Whether or not employers can mandate their employees to get vaccinated for COVID-19 is a matter of individual state law; however, instead of mandating vaccination, many larger companies are choosing to inform, educate and incentivize their employees about vaccinations. Here are some examples of employers offering vaccine incentives:

  • Target: Retail giant Target has teamed up with Lyft to provide their employees up to $15 and rides to and from their vaccine appointments. It also offers employees up to four hours of pay for work time missed.
  • Kroger: Grocery conglomerate Kroger is offering its employees a one-time payment of $100 if they show proof of their vaccination. If employees decline the vaccine due to religious or health reasons, they can take a health and safety course provided by Kroger and receive the payment.
  • Chobani: The food and yogurt company announced that it will cover six hours of time off in total in order for its employees to get vaccinated. It also hosted on-site vaccination clinics once more of its employees became eligible.
  • American Airlines: To incentivize its employees to get vaccinated, American Airlines offered extra vacation days in 2020 as well as $50 in its employee recognition program.
  • Marriott: Marriott and its portfolio of international hotels are offering all employees paid time off for their vaccinations. It is also providing them with education on the vaccines and offering scheduling flexibility for appointments.

Employers can contribute to combatting the pandemic and help return business and the economy to normal. In addition to educating employees and offering vaccination incentives, you can also join the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Rally For Recovery Commitment to learn how you can help support and protect your employees, customers and communities.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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