Survey: How on-site employees feel about COVID-19 protocols

A recent  survey indicates employees appreciate employers keeping them safe during the pandemic but have mixed feelings on methods when returning to the office.

As the U.S. nears the two-year anniversary of the COVID-19 pandemic, a majority of U.S. workers give their employers positive marks for prioritizing their safety and being supported throughout. This news comes from the WTW 2022 Global Benefits Attitudes Survey, which gathered the responses of 9,658 U.S. employees from large and mid-size private employers across a broad range of industries.

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Of all respondents who work on-site, 70% report feeling comfortable doing so. Respondents also indicated employers are helping them continue to be productive (67%) and safe from COVID-19 (66%). In addition to prioritizing safety measures, 58% of employee respondents believe their employer supports their well-being.

The survey also finds that feelings of safety promote talent retention as 84% of employees who feel safe and comfortable working on-site plan to remain with their current employer for at least two years. Conversely, only 42% of employees who do not feel safe or comfortable plan to stay for the next two years while 57% would leave for another employer for a 5% pay increase.

“Employers have made their employees’ health and well-being a top priority throughout the pandemic,” says Jeff Levin-Scherz, M.D., Population Health Leader, WTW. “As our survey results show, most employees embraced their employers’ actions to keep them safe at work and support them.”

Differing opinions around on-site requirements

Employee attitudes toward safety requirements for on-site workers vary, though employer vaccine mandates are the most opposed. Here’s what full-time employees said about requirements to work on-site:

  • 68% agree that social distancing rules should be required vs. 11% disagree.
  • 65% agree that wearing a mask inside buildings should be required vs. 15% disagree.
  • 58% agree there should be a requirement to get vaccinated vs. 22% disagree.
  • 54% agree there should be regular testing to enter facilities vs. 21% disagree.

While cities and states have began to relax their mask mandates and/or indoor vaccination policies, looser restrictions place further onus on businesses to modify their COVID-19 safety precautions

The study also reports that 10% of full-time employee respondents who contracted COVID-19 experience long-term and lingering effects, resulting in higher absences, lower productivity and greater level of depression or anxiety.  This finding doubles as a note of caution that not all employees will experience the same journey of recovery after testing positive. Consider how your leave policies can be refined to support employees whose symptoms or recovery persist.

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