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Talent Talk: The No-Win Outcome of the Vaccine Mandate on Businesses

Image: erika8213/Adobe Stock vaccine and needle
In a recent survey, 44% of workers said they would consider quitting if their employer adopted a vaccine mandate, but 38% said they would consider leaving if their company did not enforce a mandate.

These days it seems like every issue somehow manages to further divide Americans, and not in a “let’s just agree to disagree” way. It really is best to avoid any divisive topic altogether, but this is information companies in the plastics space need to know. It is not intended to be political in any way. We have talked about trends affecting employment in our industry like the Great Resignation and the Great Retirement. This is the third major workforce trend we are facing — the fallout from the recent vaccine mandate for companies with more than 100 employees.

As reported in Forbes, a recent study asked workers what they would do if their employer mandated that they get vaccinated. Forty-four percent said they would consider leaving their jobs. That number by itself might have managers falling off their chairs, but that is only the half of it. Thirty-eight percent said they would consider leaving if the organization did not mandate the vaccine. These numbers vary by industry and demographic, but the takeaway is that there is no consensus.

This is the dilemma facing our industry. Keep in mind that the way someone answers an anonymous survey does not have a one-for-one correlation to the way they would behave given those “real life” choices, but it seems likely that some percentage of workers will leave regardless. One mold designer I spoke with said that he does not believe his company will ask him to come back, but if they do he is open to changing jobs because many companies will allow that to be done remotely.

For now, all plastics companies (including those with fewer than 100 employees) need to decide what their policy is going to be and communicate it clearly to their employees. Everyone appreciates clarity, even if the answer is not what they wanted to hear.

For example, will your company allow religious exemptions? Another recent study by the insurance company Aon said that 52% of companies with vaccine mandates are not allowing religious exemptions. I asked three HR managers this week if their company planned on allowing these. On condition of anonymity, one said no, and the other two said they are waiting to see if that is part of the final rule. If (as expected) it is part of the final written mandate, obviously companies will need to comply.

There are other considerations for your company policy, as well. Some good news is you should have a bit of time. The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) has been tasked with drafting an emergency temporary standard (ETS) and best guesses are that this could take 30 to 60 days. This should give your company time to get out in front of this, but start now if you have not already.

 

About the author

Paul Sturgeon is CEO of KLA Industries, a national search firm specializing in plastics, packaging, and polymer technology. If you have a topic you would like to see discussed, a company that is growing, or other ideas for this blog, e-mail Sturgeon at [email protected].

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