Workers seek vaccine before return to work

Rising vaccination rates have made employees more confident about a return to the workplace

Almost three-quarters of workers in the UK would feel more comfortable returning to work if others around them are vaccinated against Covid-19, according to a survey by Randstad.

The recruitment company polled more than 27,000 workers in 34 countries and found that 78% want to go back to the workplace at least partially, and 87% would be willing to get vaccinated if it’s required for their job.

The survey found that feelings of isolation, a longing for personal connections and the need to strike a healthier work-life balance were some of the key factors behind employees’ desire to return to work, even on a part-time basis.

Over half (52%) of employees said they missed in-person interaction with colleagues, and a fifth said their productivity had been affected negatively by working remotely.

Concurring with similar surveys and in line with recent announcements by major employers, 56% of respondents said they enjoyed having a hybrid work set-up where they were in charge of where they worked.

While workers are keen to return to the workplace for at least some of the week, however, they want to feel safe while they are there.

Seventy-two per cent of workers in the UK said they would not feel safe in the workplace unless others around them are vaccinated – 19% higher than the global average. Almost two-thirds (63%) said they would prefer to work from home until the vaccine is more widely distributed.

This week people in England over the age of 45 have been offered the chance to book their vaccine, and more than 32 million first doses have now been given.

Victoria Short, CEO of Randstad UK said: “It’s encouraging to hear that so many are rooting to physically get back to the workplace. It doesn’t come as a surprise however that the majority won’t feel comfortable in a communal environment until they have been vaccinated.

“In order to best manage expectations, employers have a key role to play in ensuring robust safety protocols are in place prior to reopening the doors to the wider, non-essential workforce.

“While remote working has its benefits, teams are missing out on extra shared learnings, mentoring, spontaneous meetings and ideation sessions which are typically trickier to do virtually. With three in five UK adults now vaccinated and with restrictions lifting, it’s the perfect time to navigate safely back to the workplace, and take advantage of the increasing job opportunities we are seeing as the demand for talent rises.”

Globally, more than a quarter of workers (28%) have been asked by their employer to be vaccinated, Randstad found. Sixty-seven per cent believe there will be more job opportunities once they have been vaccinated.

In terms of confidence in the labour market, 54% anticipate there being a better jobs market globally, rising to 61% of UK respondents. Almost half of UK employees said their experience with their employer during the pandemic had motivated them to stay with their employer in the long term.

Short added: “To help instil greater confidence around wellness and safety, leaders need to work on reassuring the workforce that they can take comfort in returning to a workplace that is flexible, and above all, safe.

“Despite employees putting in more hours working from home, 77% are still satisfied with their job, and we can only expect this number to rise once we return to the workplace or hybrid working environments, which we know the majority desire.”

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