New Research Reveals COVID-19 Delta Variant is Causing Rising Concerns Among Employees with In-Person Work

Wednesday, September 8th, 2021

 New research from Paychex, Inc., the HR software and services company that provides the power of simplicity for increasingly complex workplaces, reveals that nearly one-third of employees say their comfort level with in-person work has decreased due to the COVID-19 delta variant. The research about the impact of the delta variant on the workforce was conducted as the first in a series of surveys that Paychex is launching with HR expert Jeanne Meister and Future Workplace, an HR research and advisory firm, to explore key workplace issues affecting employees.

While 31 percent of survey respondents state their comfort level with in-person work has declined due to the delta variant, 46 percent report that their comfort level remains the same.

"Planning and implementing in-person work policies have been a moving target for HR professionals for months, and as employees' comfort levels shift based on rising COVID-19 cases and new variants, employers will need to respond accordingly," said Alison Stevens, director of HR Services, Paychex.  

Employee Sentiment on Vaccine Mandates

Against the backdrop of the spread of the COVID-19 delta variant, the survey shows that 24 percent of employees say they would leave their current company if it mandated a COVID-19 vaccination. This is particularly true with younger generations: 31 percent of Gen Z (born 1997-2012), 27 percent of Millennials (born 1981-1996), and 26 percent of Gen X (born 1965-1980) say they would leave their current company if it mandated employees to get a COVID-19 vaccination compared to 12 percent of Boomers (born 1946-1964).

Mandated Safety Measures and Employee Sentiment

When employees were asked about the current and potential future safety measures their employers are instituting, survey respondents revealed the following:

  • 41 percent of employees are currently mandated to wear a mask regardless of COVID-19 vaccination status

  • 27 percent of employees are currently being asked for proof of COVID-19 vaccination status

  • 37 percent of employees say they don't need an incentive to be vaccinated, as they have already received a COVID-19 vaccine

  • For those employees who have not yet received a vaccine, the most attractive incentive is a financial bonus at 27 percent

When asked what safety measures would make them feel comfortable working in-person, employees responded with the following:

  • Mask mandate regardless of COVID-19 vaccination status (30 percent)

  • Distancing requirements (29 percent)

  • Temperature checks (27 percent)

"While employers may be eager to see employees back in the office, surging COVID-19 cases tied to the delta variant are igniting safety concerns for workers that employers cannot ignore," said Meister. "Workers are looking for their employers to prioritize the implementation and communication of safety measures such as mask mandates, physical distancing, and proof of COVID-19 vaccination before returning to in-person work."

For more insights from this report, including employees' top concerns about returning to work amid the delta variant outbreak, visit Paychex WORX.