How Small Businesses Are Incentivizing Employees to Get Vaccinated

Almost half of small businesses are offering paid time off to get vaccinated

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Paid time off, $100 gift cards, charitable donations, virtual care packages: These are some of the ways SMBs are getting their workforce vaccinated

Small business owners don’t need to be reminded how devastating COVID-19 has been for their business. As Covid-19 cases decrease and local economies open back up, a return to normalcy seems within reach.

Before businesses can fully reopen, employers need to get their employees vaccinated. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that between 70 to 85% of Americans need to receive the vaccine to achieve herd immunity. Once that happens, small businesses will be able to get back to business at full capacity.

Currently, only 20% of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated.

While most vaccination efforts have been focused at the individual level, Main Street is rallying together to educate their employees about vaccines. A survey of more than 3,300 small business owners by Reimagine Main Street found the majority of small business owners are banking on vaccines to drive economic recovery.

Some employers are willing to put their money where their mouth is: 63% of respondents said they are willing to encourage and incentivize employees to get vaccinated, and 45% said they would give paid time off for employees to get their shots.

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Paid time off, donations to charity, and virtual care packages are up for grabs

Small business owners are getting creative when it comes to incentivizing employees to get the Covid vaccine. Anna Jackson, co-founder of Atlantic Aspiration, is donating $500 to charity for each employee that gets the vaccine.

“We want the vaccination process to seem like a community project, rather than individually benefiting each employee,” she said.

Atlantic Aspiration has 17 employees. Of those, 14 have committed to get vaccinated, 6 are fully vaccinated, and one is hesitant, and 2 will probably not participate.

“I do feel those are statistics we can be proud of,” she said.

“We want the vaccination process to seem like a community project, rather than individually benefiting each employee.”

Petsolino, based in West Virginia, is sending its employees a virtual care package that includes Netflix and Amazon Prime subscriptions. Half of the company’s employees have already taken advantage of the incentive, according to founder Sherry Morgan.

Many of the companies Workest spoke with are offering gift cards or cash bonuses.

Tony Martins of Profitable Venture is offering a $200 voucher to an online retailer from an approved list. Michael Branson, CEO of All Reverse Mortgage, and Thomas Hawkins of Electrician Apprentice HQ are offering a $100 bonus to employees who provide proof of vaccination.

Sam Richards of Trivia20 is offering a paid half day, plus a $100 Amazon gift card and a $50 Amazon gift card to each member of their household that gets vaccinated.

Richards said he believes it’s the best way to keep their employees and the community they live in healthy.

“We’ve got aggressive goals set for 2021,” Richards said. “It will take a fully engaged workforce for us to achieve what we’re out to accomplish.”

Remote teams encouraged to get vaccinated

Laura Fuentes, operator of Infinity Dish Email, is a remote team leader of 12 employees. She is pushing to get her employees back in the office, and offering time off so they can receive the shot.

“I will be requiring all staff members, including myself, to receive the vaccine before returning to the office,” she said. “I don’t have much when it comes to financial incentives, but I can’t wait to take all my employees out for drinks when I know we can be around each other safely.”

Ryan Smith, the founder of Ant and Garden Organic Pest Control, has a team of remote workers. He said he’s letting workers take paid time off to get the vaccine.

Putting employee fears at ease about vaccines

While many employees are eager to get the vaccine, some SMBs found hesitancy amongst their workers.

“The senior leaders of our business came together to publish a note to all staff saying how we truly believe the Covid-19 vaccine is the best way to keep all of our staff safe,” said Jenna Carson, HR Director at Music Grotto.

… only 1 in 5 (19%) of all small employer respondents intend to mandate the vaccine for their employees.

Carson said the company offered to pay employees for the time it took to get the vaccine.

“There was still some nervousness from employees, so we took our new policy a step further and said that if anyone happened to get side effects from the vaccine, we would give those people an extra 2 days of paid leave. This was done on a trust basis and we’re confident it hasn’t been abused.”

Todd Ramlin is the manager at Cable Compare. He’s not forcing employees to be vaccinated, but is providing information on why it’s safe and effective. He’s also making it a prerequisite if people return to the office.

Additionally, he’s offering days off when their shots are scheduled, an additional paid vacation day they can take whenever they want, and raffling off a gift card if employees get vaccinated by a certain date.

“I feel like once their coworkers start doing it [getting vaccinated], they’ll come around because they’ll see that it’s safe and want to be part of the team.”

Requiring a vaccination to work?

Reimagine Main Street noted only 1 in 5 (19%) of all small employer respondents intend to mandate the vaccine for their employees.

“While I think it’s very important for business employees to be vaccinated against COVID, I also strongly believe it is a personal choice to be vaccinated,” said Antti Alatalo, CEO of Smart Watches 4 U.

“I can support anyone who chooses to get vaccinated, but I don’t think it needs to be highly incentivized, especially in a business where social distance can be practiced with ease, and where clients don’t come into the business to be served.”

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