OKLAHOMA CITY — Eleven million positions are waiting to be filled at companies across the U.S. with less than one available worker to fill each job opening. This comes as companies grapple with the latest challenge to hiring and retention—vaccine mandates.
According to a recent survey from The Harris Poll, commissioned by Express Employment Professionals, companies are split on whether to require employees to receive a COVID-19 vaccine with 55% reporting they have mandated the initial vaccine series and 40% now requiring the booster shot.
Employees also appear split on vaccine mandates in an earlier survey from The Harris Poll as 55% say they are unlikely to quit their job if the shots become a requirement. Sixty-five percent believe their unvaccinated colleagues would likely get vaccinated rather than quit their jobs, but another 51% are concerned if these coworkers do choose to leave, it would result in an unmanageable workload for those who remain.
And those looking for work? Only 47% are more likely to accept a job offer from an employer with a vaccine mandate due to feeling more comfortable interacting with their coworkers (59%), feeling safe due to the vaccine mandate (58%) and feeling requiring people to get vaccinated against COVID-19 is necessary to end the pandemic (57%).
“I would estimate that less than half of our industrial workforce is vaccinated,” said Greg Sulentic, Express franchise owner in Lincoln, Nebraska. “The resistance to the vaccine, for whatever reason, is real for many Americans. Companies could lose an estimated 25-30% of their workforce overnight by requiring vaccinations.”
In Jacksonville, Florida, Express franchise owner Mike Brady says he has some client companies that have implemented vaccine mandates and others were waiting to see the outcome of federal policy, including the Supreme Court’s recent ruling that blocks vaccine mandates for large businesses.
“We had a small percentage of employees leave due to the mandate enforcement and are looking for small companies where vaccines are not required,” he said. “Some workers don’t want to reveal their vaccination status and others don’t feel they need the vaccine.”
As evidenced by the supply chain issue and longer wait times at just about every business, the desperate search for talent doesn’t seem to be ending anytime soon, Express CEO Bill Stoller said.
“Multiple factors are contributing to this difficult employment landscape, and it’s important for business leaders to enact internal policies that are best for their companies to attract and retain talent,” he added. “As decisions are made, the health and safety of employees should always take precedence for a healthy workforce and healthy economy.”
 The survey was conducted online within the United States by The Harris Poll on behalf of Express Employment Professionals between Nov. 10 and Dec. 2, 2021, among 1,009 U.S. hiring decision-makers (defined as adults ages 18+ in the U.S. who are employed full-time or self-employed, work at companies with more than 1 employee, and have full/significant involvement in hiring decisions at their company). Data were weighted where necessary by company size to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population.
 The Harris Poll COVID19 Tracker Wave 82 survey was conducted online within the U.S. by The Harris Poll from Sept. 10 to 12, 2021 among a nationally representative sample of 1,920 U.S. adults ages 18 and older.
 This survey was conducted online within the U.S. by The Harris Poll on behalf of Fast Company between Oct. 8-12, 2021, among 1,039 U.S. adults ages 18 and older.