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The state of play as it relates to COVID return to work

Axios took a look at the shortage of workers in the US and reports that it’s bigger than just the pandemic.    Quoting them, Millions of immigrants, older workers, and mothers are missing from the labor force. Those labor shortages create problems like supply chain woes, school closures, and skyrocketing child care costs — and some of those issues further exacerbate the worker shortages. In a survey released by the Conference Board yesterday, U.S. CEOs say labor shortages are the top threat to their businesses this year.

Data from UC Davis points to about 1 million higher educated working age adults out of the market and 3.3 million more retirees.    The hope – when it gets safer to return to work, more will choose to.

And some data around vaccine and testing requirements.     Google is now requiring anyone going to one of its offices in the US to have received a negative molecular test for COVID-19.  Apple is now requiring proof of the COVID-19 booster shot, and unvaccinated employees will need a negative test.   This comes after a similar requirement from Meta.  

At the federal government level, agencies are now reporting data on vaccination levels with the requirement dates in place.    Some agencies are at 100% compliance, with every agency showing improvement.   Agencies are working through their medical and religious exemptions lists, are expected to have determined their plans by Feb 15.  

Why do we care?

The core takeaway is building a safe environment for employees.    I think they’re related and part of an employer’s larger “culture” discussion.     Culture means something different for each business, and most Americans support vaccine mandates at work.   From some December data on this,

“Residents of urban areas are broadly the most supportive of their employer imposing a vaccine mandate, followed by suburban residents and then rural, with 78% of vaccinated urban residents, 70% of suburban and 58% of rural backing a requirement compared to 22%, 15%, and 9% of unvaccinated urban, suburban and rural residents, respectively.”

Make this your competitive advantage, whatever that means for your organization.