Leadership Solutions

Expected Employee Response to Mandatory COVID-19 Vaccinations

As COVID-19 vaccinations rollout across the world it is unclear whether all people will voluntarily choose to be vaccinated. Businesses may be faced with a decision to mandate vaccinations to keep their workforce safe and healthy.

In this Security Barometer we asked your peers what they thought the likely fallout may result from required COVID-19 vaccinations.

chart showing 59% of respondents organizations are not expected to implement mandatory vaccinations

Some survey participants commented that their organizations were making vaccinations mandatory only for front-line workers, not required unless customers required it, or only requiring vaccinations based on health authority's guidance.

The survey participants were asked to rank what they thought would be the most likely employee responses if organizations instated mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations. (Respondents did not have to rank all options).

chart showing nearly 50% of respondents feel employees would welcome mandatory vaccinations

The voting resulted in the following ranking:

  1. Employees will welcome mandatory vaccinations.
  2. Employees will vaccinate but be unhappy about mandatory vaccinations.
  3. Employees will protest either internally or externally about mandatory vaccinations.
  4. Employees will use legal reasons, such as religious exception, to avoid mandatory vaccinations.
  5. Employees will falsify information to avoid mandatory vaccinations.
  6. Employees will quit their employment rather than submit to mandatory vaccinations.


The following contains selected and edited commentary from survey participants:

  • Different rules by country, and possible within US state cause concerns for organizations in requiring or promoting.
  • Rather than put the focus on the person, our organization is putting the requirements into the role. For example, if a role requires international travel and a vaccine is required by the destination countries, then the employee will have to have the vaccine or look for another role that does not require travel and the vaccine.
  • We are not mandating unless required by government. Our HR and legal staff have offered guidance advising against mandating the vaccines from and ethical, administrative and litigation risk perspective.
  • Our organization is taking the approach that this is a health decision that needs to be made by the individual. In addition, as a global company, each country will have access to different vaccines of varying degrees of efficacy and transparency of the clinical trial data. However, the company will abide by any local government mandates.
  • Our organization offered to vaccinate all since Dec 17th but it was not mandatory. We are coming to an end of willing vaccinations. We are at 16,500 out of 24,000 Employees and contractors.
  • The answers above will be influence with passage of time. The longer the period of time the elapses without vaccine issues, the likely to shift my answers to "will welcome it"
  • We strongly considered requiring the vaccine but after much internal discussion, decided not to require it, but to put significant efforts behind a positive vaccine campaign to get the vaccine. We took steps to inform our teams about it, creating a dedicated promo and FAQ page within our internal Covid response website. We are having CDC and local Medical Center experts available for our virtual town hall meeting where the employees are able to submit questions in advance and participate in a Q&A. Our internal culture will be more prone to accept and proceed with it in this manner versus a required vaccination policy.
  • We will follow local authorities’ guidance and adapt our policies accordingly.
  • Employee response will vary depending on company country and industry sector. Some employees will be greatly relieved, believing that a vaccinated workforce will be protected against virus transmission. Setting vaccine mandates risks hardening the position of employees who were otherwise ambivalent, and opposition to such a mandate can be exhibited in either protest or seeking out legal protections. Companies need to be careful about mandating any medical procedure - all medical procedures carry a degree of risk, which means any company requiring vaccination is also taking on liability if an adverse event should occur.
  • Irrational responses will largely reflect the sources of propaganda employees use to misinform themselves.


Next Steps

It is important to be prepared for possible fallout from your organization's COVID-19 response. Lack of mandated vaccinations may raise as much concern among employees as requiring vaccinations. Litigation risk is certainly an issue that must be considered.

The Security Executive Council is available to help your organization face COVID-19. Contact Us to find out more.

For more resources on this topic see Program Best Practices: Policy and Guidelines

Watch our 3-minute video to learn about how the SEC works with security leaders. Contact us at: contact @secleader.com.

Copyright Security Executive Council. Last Updated: March 3, 2021

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