Amidst the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic, one question remains constant for professionals across industries and job levels: when will I return to the office?
Answers are beginning to emerge as the pandemic stretches toward its third year. Companies like Facebook, Zillow, and Slack have adopted permanent remote work policies. Others like Google, Apple, and Lyft planned on re-opening their offices in September but recently pushed their dates back to later in 2021 and early 2022. Still others like Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan attempted to mandate their workers return to the office, only to see factors like the Delta variant disrupt those plans.
Now, other companies are trying a new tack: requiring their team members to be fully vaccinated before returning to the office.
With the FDA recently granting full approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine—an upgrade from the organization’s emergency use authorization in December 2020—experts expect more private companies to require proof of vaccination for employees returning to the office. In fact, the share of jobs on Indeed that require vaccination rose 90% in just the last month.
Following are ten companies across industries that required employees to be vaccinated before resuming in-person work.
Immediately following the FDA’s full approval of the Pfizer vaccine last week, CVS mandated that employees across roles be fully vaccinated—regardless of where they work.
CVS corporate staff and patient-facing employees such as nurses and care managers must be fully vaccinated by October 31. Because of the large number of pharmacists at CVS, those professionals will have until the end of November to become vaccinated.
CVS Health President and CEO Karen S. Lynch attributes the mandate to COVID-19’s spread amongst unvaccinated people. “While the vast majority of our employees have chosen to be vaccinated, this decision is in direct response to the dramatic rise in cases among the unvaccinated,” Lynch said.
Like CVS, Cigna cited the rising number of COVID-19 cases as grounds for its new vaccine requirement. Beginning September 7, Cigna will prohibit remote employees from entering a U.S. job site unless they are fully vaccinated. Cigna will require employees who work onsite, like medical care providers and pharmacists, to be fully vaccinated starting October 18—or to receive negative COVID-19 tests every week.
In June, BlackRock announced that its employees would be invited to return to the office starting July—as long as they were fully vaccinated.
A New York-based company that manages the world’s largest asset portfolio, Blackrock required all employees to disclose their vaccination by the end of June 30, whether they planned to return to the office or not.
BlackRock decided to limit office access to vaccinated employees after team members reported feeling more comfortable returning to work if their peers were vaccinated.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai announced in a company-wide memo at the end of July that all employees reporting to work on a Google campus must be fully vaccinated. At the same time, Pichai extended Google’s optional work-from-home policy through October 18.
Essentially, these developments mean that Google employees, minus those with extenuating circumstances, must return to the office by mid-October—and must be fully vaccinated before doing so.
In a move similar to Google’s, NBCUniversal recently announced that it would fully open its office as early as October 18. It will require employees to be fully vaccinated at that time.
Like many other companies, NBCUniversal says that its decision is based on rising COVID-19 caseloads due to the Delta variant. Until NBCUniversal fully requires employees to return to its offices, only vaccinated employees will be allowed to return to in-person work voluntarily.
Responding to a company town hall meeting where staff voiced their desire to return to the office only if coworkers were fully vaccinated, McDonald’s will require corporate team members to be fully inoculated before resuming in-person work.
McDonald’s has set October 11 as the reopening date for corporate offices. Under that plan, the fast-food giant requires its corporate workforce to receive their second shots (or first in the case of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine) by September 27, allowing two weeks for team members to develop maximum immunity before entering the workplace.
The company’s mandate does not apply to workers in the company’s restaurants. As one of many companies facing a labor shortage for hourly employees, McDonald’s is wary that vaccine mandates for those positions would only further limit its hiring pool.
Like McDonald’s, Walmart requires employees to be fully vaccinated before returning to work—but only those in white-collar positions.
On July 30, Walmart announced that associates who work in multiple facilities, along with those who work in company offices, must be vaccinated by October 4. The company allows exemptions for religious or medical reasons.
Walmart is not requiring vaccinations for in-store workers, but offers perks for team members who choose to become immunized. The company pays a $150 bonus to every worker that gets vaccinated while offering up to three days paid leave to account for the shots’ short-term side effects.
Tyson requires its office workers to be fully vaccinated by October 1, while frontline workers must be vaccinated by November 1. Similar to Walmart, Tyson provides a financial incentive for on-the-ground workers to get vaccinated: a $200 bonus.
Dr. Claudi Coplein, Tyson’s Chief Medical Officer, says the company is motivated to protect the safety of its employees—and the public at large. “Getting vaccinated against COVID-19 is the single most effective thing we can do to protect our team members, their families, and their communities,” Coplein says.
In a statement at the end of July, The Walt Disney Company announced that all staff and non-union workers had 60 days to get fully vaccinated. For its employees working from home, Disney requires proof of vaccination before returning to the office.
Disney’s statement echoed the familiar position that vaccination provides the best protection for both individuals and their larger communities: “Vaccines are the best tool we all have to help control this global pandemic and protect our employees.”
While Delta does not require all employees to be vaccinated, it provides a strong impetus for team members to get their shots. Starting November 1, Delta employees will need to show proof of full vaccination or pay a $200 monthly health insurance surcharge.
Delta’s chief executive, Ed Bastian, makes a financial case for the insurance requirement. “The average hospital stay for COVID-19 has cost Delta $50,000 per person,” says Bastian. “This surcharge will be necessary to address the financial risk the decision not to vaccinate is creating for our company.”
Why Companies Require Employee Vaccinations
While each company’s reasons for requiring vaccination vary to some degree, common themes exist. Many companies cite protecting their team members. Others attribute their decision to a larger civic duty, while companies like Delta make a financial case for requiring the vaccine. Still others, like McDonald’s and BlackRock, say their in-office vaccine policy stems from the overwhelming sentiment expressed by their employees.
As a result, requiring employee vaccination before entering the office may not only protect your workforce’s health or your company’s financial wellbeing. It also serves as an attractive perk to the 70% of employees who want their peers to be fully vaccinated before returning to the office. In an era of record employee turnover, employers need every possible advantage to attract and retain skilled professionals. Adopting policies that coincide with employee desires for a safe workplace is a surefire way to make your company more appealing to top talent.
Responding to employee sentiment about vaccines is just one way to improve your company’s draw to new and current team members. Reach out to Velocity Global today to find out how we can help you meet your talent needs in today’s increasingly competitive hiring landscape.