Detroit Regional Chamber Survey Reveals Businesses’ Perceptions, Plans for Vaccinations in the Workplace

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Majority of respondents believe vaccines will be critical to resume “normal” operations
Questions, uncertainty remain amid rapid changes, adoption challenges, and misinformation

Now that three COVID-19 vaccines have been approved, widely distributed, and administration is speeding up, the Detroit Regional Chamber surveyed business executives and leaders in Michigan on their plans for educating and communicating with their workforce about the vaccine.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services announced that everyone 16 and older would be able to schedule a vaccine appointment starting April 5 as they continue to target at least a 70% vaccination rate of the state’s adult population by the end of 2021. As production and distribution have accelerated, businesses are seeking clarity and guidance on how to navigate vaccinations in the workplace. While most respondents shared that the vaccine will be important for their companies to resume “normal” business operations, many indicated that there is still uncertainty about how they will educate employees about the vaccine, encourage or mandate participation in vaccination programs, and handle returns to the office.

During the survey period from Jan. 22 to March 1, 2021, respondents shared their thoughts on their vaccine plans, employee engagement, and the overall importance of the vaccine on business operations.

Increased vaccination will play a pivotal role in businesses returning to the office, but it won’t be the only factor. In February, the Detroit Regional Chamber joined other business groups from around the state to urge Gov. Whitmer to safely open offices again.

“Offices are some of the most controlled, low-risk environments in our state. Masks can be worn whenever employees are not in a private space. Cleaning methods, social distancing, and daily health checks can be implemented in an employer-monitored setting and our employers are prepared.”

Key findings include:

Overall Vaccination Plans

  • 81.0% of respondents agree the vaccine will be important for their company to return to “normal” business operations, with 55.2% stating they strongly agree it will be important.
  • 39.3% indicated their company has a comprehensive strategy to encourage employees get vaccinated, while another 31.9% stated their company does not have a strategy.
  • More than 61% of respondents stated their company will have an education program to encourage vaccination among employees, while 17% shared that their company does not have plans for an education program.
  • The majority of respondents, 55.8%, do not plan to have an on-site vaccine program for employees, while 18.4% plan for an on-site vaccine program.
  • Nearly half of respondents’ organizations plan to provide paid time off for employees to get vaccinated. 20.9% stated their organization does not have plans to do so.

Encourage or Mandate Vaccination

  • Two-thirds of respondents stated their organization will be encouraging vaccination, but not mandating vaccination. Another 12% will have no involvement in employees’ vaccination plans, and 15% shared they are undetermined or have no formal plan.

Return to In-Person Work

  • Results were split nearly evenly on the identification of a date when all or most employees will return to in-person work with 32% with a date already identified, 37% with no date but currently discussing, and another 31% without a date of return.

Vaccination Rates of Employees

  • Nearly 40% of respondents stated that employee vaccination rates will not impact the decision to return to in-person work, with an additional 30% saying employee vaccination rates will have an impact.
  • Nearly 45% of respondents state that more than half of their employees have indicated interest in receiving the vaccine. Another 42% were unsure of employees’ interest in receiving the vaccine.

Plans for Safety for Employees Choosing Not to Vaccinate

When asked about plans to accommodate safety for employees who choose not to be vaccinated, the responses centered around the following themes:

  •  Continuing safety protocols
  •  Following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance
  •  Extending remote work assignments
  •  Seeking additional guidance, still planning for this circumstance

View a detailed report here. This survey was conducted via the online surveying tool SurveyMonkey. All 163 surveyed respondents’ names and companies are private and will not be issued publicly.

Respondents by Size and Industry


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