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Arizona State University Survey of Employers Shows Companies Doubling Down on Covid-19 Testing and Support Vaccinations to Achieve a Post-Pandemic Workplace

Nearly 9 out of 10 employers in the US & UK will require or encourage vaccination for employees. Most say employee mental health has become a top priority

PHOENIX, Ariz. | April 29, 2021 – A comprehensive business survey, conducted by Arizona State University’s College of Health Solutions with support from The Rockefeller Foundation, finds that nearly 9 out of 10 employers in the United States and UK plan to encourage or require vaccination for employees and nearly 7 out of 10 are currently performing Covid-19 testing for their employees. The results from 1,339 employers, focusing on mid to large size employers who completed this survey during the month of March, are available in a new comprehensive report, Back to the Workplace: Are we there yet? Key Insights from Employers One Year Into the Pandemic. The survey produced real-time responses of American and British businesses, representing 71% and 24% of respondents respectively, about their vaccination policies, testing and contact tracing, employee well-being, pandemic response and preparedness, the pandemic’s financial impact, and the future of work.  

“More than one year into the Covid-19 crisis, it’s clear that employers across the United States and UK are now taking a more proactive role and creating their own policies to manage the pandemic,” said Mara Aspinall, Project Co-Lead, Professor of Practice at Arizona State University’s College of Health Solutions, and Advisor to The Rockefeller Foundation. “In making the physical workplace as safe as possible, almost 70% of employers surveyed are testing some or all of their workforce and nearly 90% say that they will require or encourage Covid-19 vaccination in the months ahead.”

As vaccination rates increase globally—with more than half of adults in the U.S. and the UK having received at least one shot—employers and employees now face important questions and complex challenges about when and how they will return to work. The second in a series launched last summer, with the initial round published in November 2020, key findings of the latest Covid-19 Workplace Commons — Keeping Workers Well survey include:

  • Vaccinations are the top priority. Eighty-eight percent of employers plan to require or encourage their employees to be vaccinated against Covid-19. Fifty-nine percent plan to incentivize their employees to be vaccinated, and 60% of employers say they will require proof of vaccination from employees.
  • Productivity and morale are up. The survey also provided surprising insights on worker productivity and morale, with a majority of employers saying their employees’ engagement and productivity have gone up since the pandemic and 44% reporting that employee morale has gone up, compared to 26% indicating that morale went down, since the pandemic began. 
  • Mental health and employee burnout is a big concern. Seventy-seven percent of employers said employees’ mental health has now become a top priority since the pandemic started. For companies in the U.S., 79% of employers indicated that employee mental health wellbeing has become a top priority for their company. 

“This pandemic clearly has had a devastating impact on our collective mental health.” said Dr. Jonathan D. Quick, Managing Director for Pandemic Response, Preparedness, and Prevention at The Rockefeller Foundation. “The data indicate that employers see this crisis and are working to find ways to help employees restore their mental well-being.”

Additionally, with so many adults being vaccinated, both employees and employers are sharing what they want the work environment in the future to look like post-pandemic. 

  • Companies are looking towards offering a more flexible working environment:

Nearly three quarters of companies (72%) indicated that they intend to offer more flexible or expanded work from home policies for their employees post-pandemic (in the U.S., this number increases to 73% of employers). 

Overall, more than 6 out of 10 companies surveyed will offer a virtual work environment or a hybrid model – a combination of virtual and physical work environment – in a post-pandemic world. 

For the rest of 2021, a majority of companies (63%) will allow employees to work from home through the rest of the year.

  • Most companies indicated they are not ready to completely abandon their physical workplace space in a post-pandemic world: 

A majority of employers (68%) believe that employees should be in the office at least 20 hours per week. 

They cited their top reasons for wanting employees to be in the office partially during the week as 1) it allows for social connections to be created and maintained with colleagues, 2) it ensures employee productivity, and 3) it allows for spontaneous idea sharing and problem solving. 

“The pandemic has changed the traditional office environment in many ways – possibly forever – yet a majority of employers are indicating they see real value in employees continuing to interact face-to-face,” said Nate Wade, Project Co-Lead and Senior Director of Strategic Initiatives at Arizona State University’s College of Health Solutions.

Additional survey findings include:

  • The top three challenges companies are facing in returning employees to the physical work environment are 1) employees not wanting to return to in-person work, 2) safety of employees, and 3) cost of making workspace safe for employees.
  • 84% of employers indicated that they would allow Covid-19 vaccinations to be administered to their employees at their facility if supplies were available.
  • Half of employers reported an increase in the use of available company resources related to mental health since the pandemic began.

ASU will field one more phase of its Covid-19 Workplace Commons — Keeping Workers Well survey in summer 2021. Employers of all types, sizes and geographic locations are invited to get involved and sign up to participate in the next survey at 



About ASU’s College of Health Solutions 
The College of Health Solutions at Arizona State University is dedicated to translating scientific health research and discovery into practical interventions. Its programs prepare students to address the challenges facing our populations to stay healthy, improve their health and manage chronic disease — all toward improving health outcomes. Programs are offered in behavioral health, biomedical informatics and biomedical diagnostics, kinesiology and exercise science, health care delivery, nutrition, population health, and speech and hearing science. The college’s unique online master of science in biomedical diagnostics degree is designed to address the role of diagnostics in clinical and research decision making. Graduates are prepared to make an impact in the health workforce and shift the focus of health from sickness to wellness, addressing the factors that enable populations to be and stay healthy. 

About The Rockefeller Foundation
The Rockefeller Foundation advances new frontiers of science, data, and innovation to solve global challenges related to health, food, power, and economic mobility. As a science-driven philanthropy focused on building collaborative relationships with partners and grantees, The Rockefeller Foundation seeks to inspire and foster large-scale human impact that promotes the well-being of humanity throughout the world by identifying and accelerating breakthrough solutions, ideas, and conversations. For more information, sign up for our newsletter at and follow us on Twitter @RockefellerFdn.


Media Contact:

Ashley Chang
(212) 852-8451

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