Skip to main content

Survey: Majority of Houston Employers Encouraging Vaccines, More Flexible with Remote Work 

Published Jun 09, 2021 by A.J. Mistretta

Downtown Houston

With the state of Texas now fully open and COVID-19 cases in decline, Houston companies are grappling with how to resume operations in a safe and secure fashion that also conveys a sense of normalcy. 

The Greater Houston Partnership conducted a wide-ranging survey among its members to gauge sentiment on issues including vaccine requirements for employees, return-to-workplace timelines and ongoing health and safety practices. A total of 141 firms responded to the survey conducted June 3-7. 

The vast majority of Houston-area employers (87%) are encouraging but not requiring vaccinations among their employees, with about a quarter using some form of tangible incentive (monetary, time off, etc.) to gain compliance. Just 8% are requiring employees to get vaccinated. Fifty-two percent of companies said they are tracking employee vaccinations, and of those a little over a third are requiring proof while another third are conducting non-anonymous surveys. 

In terms of health and safety protocols, 55% of respondent companies said they require non-vaccinated employees to wear a mask while the rest are split between mandating masks for all (22%) and not mandating masks at all (24%). Just 21% said they have eliminated social distancing indoors altogether while the rest either require social distancing among all employees (42%) or only among the non-vaccinated (38%). Asked about the health and safety measures being deployed in the workplace, the top answers were enhanced cleaning services, limiting elevator capacity and providing individual safety equipment and supplies.  

Following a year that saw significant job losses across the region, companies are working to regain their footing. Asked how their employee count has changed since the pandemic began in March 2020, 49% said it has remained the same while the remaining companies were evenly split (nearly 26%) among those who have increased staff and those who have cut staff. Of those companies that lost staff, 38% experienced a decline of 6 to 10% while 21% saw losses of 11 to 20%. 

Asked about plans to resume on-site operations, nearly 20% of respondents said they never closed while another 47% either said they had already reopened or would do so this month. Another 9% expect to reopen in July or August, and 20% will open in September or later.

Houston area employers appear to be more open to flexible work arrangements post-pandemic. Employers were asked about their plans for remote work in the near-term (1 to 3 months) and medium-term (3-12 months). See the results in the chart below. 

Employers’ top outside concerns regarding reopen are: staff vaccinations (72% rated it extremely/very important), community vaccination rate (65%) and community herd immunity (60%). 

“We conducted this survey to help local employers determine how others are handling the tough issues surrounding reopening," said Bob Harvey, president and CEO of the Greater Houston Partnership. "What we found is that there is a definitive cultural shift in how some companies are approaching issues like remote work. They also told us that vaccinations are the most important part of their return to onsite operations. This is all significant data as companies try to regain what they’ve lost during the pandemic and return employees to work.”
 

Click here to see the results of the survey. 

Related News

Membership

How You Can Give Back in Houston this Giving Tuesday

11/30/21
Every fall, people from around the world come together and perform generous acts of kindness to better their communities and support nonprofits in need. This global movement is called Giving Tuesday and takes place today, Nov. 30!  For those looking to get involved and participate in the giving season this year, we have compiled a few organizations that provide convenient ways for Houstonians to donate their time and/or provide monetary gifts.  Houston Food Bank The Houston Food Bank fights food insecurity by distributing essentials to those in need as well as providing programs and services that help families achieve long-term stability. You can help the Houston Food Bank by giving funds, food or simply your time.  Donate - Every $1 provides a full day of meals to those in need Collect - Host a food drive to get your friends, family, business or organization involved Drop In the Red Barrel - Red Barrels can be found in grocery stores throughout the Houston area for fast, convenient donations. Click here for more ways to give Toys For Tots  When you donate to the U.S. Marine Corps’ Toys for Tots Foundation, you give children in need a reason to believe in their future. The organization distributes toys to low-income families throughout the entire country and directly contributes to the development of one of our nation’s most valuable resources – the next generation. The goal is not only to help children from low-income families experience a special holiday season, but to help them become responsible, productive and patriotic citizens. Click here to learn how you can positively impact a child’s holiday season  United Way  United Way of Greater Houston helps Houstonians overcome barriers to achieve success and thrive by providing tools, resources and educational support to individuals and families. United Way helps fund dozens of partner nonprofits that also directly serve the community. This can range anywhere from quality out-of-school programs to basic and immediate needs like food, shelter, clothing and transportation. Last year, United Way helped 2 million people in the Houston region. Partner with United Way by making a donation or joining their volunteer force to give back. Click here to donate today    Giving Tuesday is a perfect time to get involved in your community. However, the charitable spirit behind Giving Tuesday does not need to be confined to one day. Give back all year round by supporting causes and movements that help shape a better tomorrow. Learn more about how the Partnership is helping advance the region’s growth and creating opportunities for all.   
Read More
COVID-19

Statement on OSHA’s Emergency Temporary Standard Regarding Vaccination Requirements

11/4/21
Statement Attributable to Bob Harvey, President and CEO, Greater Houston Partnership “The Partnership continues to support companies requiring employees be vaccinated against COVID-19 and applauds steps that lead to improving our community’s vaccination rate, now hovering at 68 percent (Harris County, ages 12 and above, fully vaccinated). Businesses have a duty to maintain a safe work environment, and many have deemed vaccine requirements an important step to get back to business safely. When President Biden announced in September that employer vaccination requirement rules would be forthcoming for employers with over 100 employees, we were clear that the details of the rules mattered.  We believe the specifics outlined by OSHA this morning are sensitive to our concerns. While we believe that companies should have the right to set their own standards for employment, we respect the right of OSHA to set workplace safety standards and appreciate that the new OSHA rules allow for commonsense flexibility, including a frequent testing option that many companies have already chosen to provide their employees. We also appreciate the other areas of flexibility such as employees who exclusively work from home and or work outdoors not being subject to the vaccine requirement, along with the fact that companies are not required to pay for testing of those who choose not to be vaccinated when there are already many free options available in our community.  At the same time, we acknowledge the concerns of some companies that it may be difficult to sustain operations if a significant number of employees choose not to be vaccinated and seek employment elsewhere. Fortunately, experience to date of companies that have required vaccines is that the vast majority of employees will take the step of being vaccinated rather than face termination or seek employment elsewhere.  We acknowledge this is a difficult balance as companies seek to ramp up their operations as they recover from the pandemic-induced downturn. All this said, vaccinations are our path out of the pandemic, and the Partnership remains focused on supporting steps that lead to improving the rate of vaccination in our community.”  
Read More

Related Events

Membership

Partnership Week: Membership 101

Want to learn more about the Partnership and how to maximize your membership? Join us for Membership 101 to hear how the Partnership harnesses the expertise of our 900 member companies to make Houston greater and how…

Learn More
Learn More