Nearly 60 percent of workers in Greater Boston want their employer to require vaccinations in the workplace, according to a survey by Eagle Hill Consulting.
The survey, conducted from May 12 to May 17 and published Thursday, asked more than 530 workers across various industries about their sentiment toward COVID-19 vaccines, returning to work, and safety protocols. The results show that many remain hesitant about being around co-workers after more than a year of working from home or following strict safety protocols in the workplace. Of the respondents that said they want their employer to require vaccinations, most said employees should be asked to provide proof.
Most pandemic-era restrictions were lifted in Massachusetts on May 29, meaning stores, restaurants, gyms, and other businesses could operate at full capacity without being required to enforce masking or social-distancing rules. Office-based employers, however, are still debating how, whether, and when their workers will return in person. Some large companies expect employees will return to the office on a voluntary basis this summer, but most foresee the bulk of their workforce coming back on a “hybrid” schedule after Labor Day.
Jonathan Gove, who manages Eagle Hill’s Boston office, said the survey results show that even though vaccinated individuals no longer need to wear masks or social distance in most settings, “Bostonians still want employers involved in encouraging these safety precautions.” More than 80 percent of survey respondents said they want their employer to require or encourage those protocols in the workplace.
Some large employers have indicated they will keep tabs on employee vaccinations through an “honor system,” instead of asking for proof. MassMutual and HubSpot, which have nearly 6,000 employees in Massachusetts combined, told the Globe that they would not require employees to get a COVID-19 shot. Starting June 15, vaccinated employees at HubSpot will be able to go to the office without social distancing or wearing a mask.
The Newton-Needham Regional Chamber found in a recent survey of about 450 members that nearly one out of four businesses would require employees to be vaccinated. These businesses tended to be smaller employers, including a number of restaurants.
About 45 percent of Eagle Hill survey respondents said nonvaccinated employees should stay clear of the workplace, but at the same time, 56 percent of workers said those employees should not get special treatment to work from home. How to manage this situation is a “sticky issue” for employers, Gove said.
“One solution may be for more employers to offer vaccine incentives to help drive up vaccination rates and lessen employee anxiety about potential COVID-19 exposure at work,” he said.