• Forty percent of companies surveyed in a new report require all employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
  • Employees will be encouraged but not required to get a jab by 32% of companies.
  • Mental health concerns and burn-out have risen up the agenda since the onset of the pandemic.

Almost nine in every 10 companies will require or encourage their employees to get a COVID-19 vaccination or face consequences, according to a new report.

All employees are required to be vaccinated by 40% of companies surveyed in a report from Arizona State University (ASU), the World Economic Forum and the Rockefeller Foundation. Employees will be encouraged but not required by 32% and 16% will require some, but not all, employees to have the jab.

While vaccination programmes are well underway in many of the world’s wealthiest countries, other regions lag far behind, with India and Latin America in the crosshairs. The ASU report assessed responses from 24 industry sectors and 1,339 facilities at 1,168 companies. Most came from companies in the US and UK, which are among the most advanced in terms of vaccination plans.

statistics showing companies' policies for employees regarding COVID-19 vaccination
88% of employers will require of encourage vaccinations from employees.
Image: Arizona State University

People who choose not to comply with their company’s policies are likely to face consequences, including having their work responsibilities changed, disciplinary action or being excluded from the physical work environment, the data showed.

coronavirus, health, COVID19, pandemic

What is the World Economic Forum doing to manage emerging risks from COVID-19?

The first global pandemic in more than 100 years, COVID-19 has spread throughout the world at an unprecedented speed. At the time of writing, 4.5 million cases have been confirmed and more than 300,000 people have died due to the virus.

As countries seek to recover, some of the more long-term economic, business, environmental, societal and technological challenges and opportunities are just beginning to become visible.

To help all stakeholders – communities, governments, businesses and individuals understand the emerging risks and follow-on effects generated by the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, the World Economic Forum, in collaboration with Marsh and McLennan and Zurich Insurance Group, has launched its COVID-19 Risks Outlook: A Preliminary Mapping and its Implications - a companion for decision-makers, building on the Forum’s annual Global Risks Report.

The report reveals that the economic impact of COVID-19 is dominating companies’ risks perceptions.

Companies are invited to join the Forum’s work to help manage the identified emerging risks of COVID-19 across industries to shape a better future. Read the full COVID-19 Risks Outlook: A Preliminary Mapping and its Implications report here, and our impact story with further information.

Companies’ “responses indicate that vaccination is perceived as significantly important for keeping the workplace and their employees safe,” the authors of the report, Nathaniel L Wade and Mara G Aspinall from Arizona State University’s College of Health Solutions, wrote.

a diagram showing the consequences of lack of vaccine compliancy
44% of people will not be allowed to return to the physical work environment without vaccine compliance
Image: Arizona State University

Nearly 60% plan to incentivize employees to be vaccinated, 84% would allow vaccinations to be administered to employees at their facility and 60% will require employees to demonstrate proof of vaccination.

Future workplace

Vaccination will play a key role in what the future of work looks like.

Employees are facing a ‘double-disruption’ scenario, according to the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs report, as automation and the COVID-19 pandemic redefine work.

“In addition to the current disruption from the pandemic-induced lockdowns and economic contraction, technological adoption by companies will transform tasks, jobs and skills by 2025,” the report says. “By 2025, the time spent on current tasks at work by humans and machines will be equal.”

The ASU report shows companies are still dealing with the fall-out from the pandemic.

Companies said 57% of their employees are still remote and are likely to remain so for much of the year. But the report indicated most employers want people to come together to work, at least some of the time. More than two-thirds of employers believe that employees should be in the office at least 20 hours per week, citing their top reason as social connections among colleagues, the report said.

statistics showing the reasons why companies think employees should be in the office at least 20 hours a week
The most popular reason why companies think employees should be in the office at least 20 hours a week is social contact.
Image: Arizona State University

Mental health was also a key feature of the report, with 50% of employers saying they’ve seen an uptick in the use of resources relating to this area.

charts showing how employee wellbeing changed during the pandemic compared to pre-pandemic
Many companies introduced more mental health measures to help employees through the struggles of the pandemic.
Image: Arizona State University

Employee mental health is now a top priority for more than 75% of those surveyed, the report showed. Even so, engagement and morale had increased.


What is the World Economic Forum’s Jobs Reset Summit?

The World Economic Forum’s Jobs Reset Summit brings together leaders from business, government, civil society, media and the broader public to shape a new agenda for growth, jobs, skills and equity.

The two-day virtual event, being held on 1-2 June 2021, will address the most critical areas of debate, articulate pathways for action, and mobilize the most influential leaders and organizations to work together to accelerate progress.

The Summit will develop new frameworks, shape innovative solutions and accelerate action on four thematic pillars: Economic Growth, Revival and Transformation; Work, Wages and Job Creation; Education, Skills and Lifelong Learning; and Equity, Inclusion and Social Justice.

“The bottom line for us is that so many are working so hard to keep it all together – to balance work, family, friends and even some fun,” the report authors wrote. “For the most part, it has worked, but we are not sure how much longer that balancing act can last.”